Daily Archives: October 25, 2015

Martha’s Vineyard

My blogging output has slowed to a crawl in Massachusetts – after spending the days seeing things, I  spend the evenings talking with old friends.  But I will make an effort to not fall further behind, and  so start off with Martha’s Vineyard.

The Vineyard has always been one of my favorite places, ever since visiting for the first time as a kid. What I always found most appealing was the incredible variety of towns and landscapes, each of which is beautiful in its own right, with the particularity of each heightened by the contrast with the others.  I think I’m especially susceptible to the qualities of the Vineyard from having gone there when I was young (when everything seems magical) and having returned from time to time, with each of these trips being memorable in its own way.  As we now spend our summers on a very different island in Washington, I wanted Greta to see what a New England island is like, how different and how similar. We spent a couple of days there with Jenny Young, our colleague and good friend from Eugene.

Arriving in Vineyard Haven, with a line-up of stellar boats behind the breakwater.  I’m used to the fine wooden boats in Port Townsend, but I had forgotten what a harbor full of classic boats in New England can look like.DSCF2978

Oak Bluffs is home to an array of crazy small cottages, built around the Methodist revival campground area.  DSCF2987 DSCF2997 DSCF3001 DSCF3003 DSCF3031

Edgartown, with its houses of whaling ship captains and small streets.  It is a beautiful town that hasn’t changed much, except for the price of real estate, having been discovered by the absurdly rich a while back, who have displaced the merely affluent.  After traveling across the country and getting used to the crazy juxtapositions of the built landscape, the consistency and quality of the town is a shock.  DSCF3094

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South Water Street

South Water Street

the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor, where I learned to sail many decades ago

the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor, where I learned to sail many decades ago

North Water St., with its array of captain's houses

North Water St., with its array of captain’s houses

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the imported pagoda tree, purportedly the largest in the country

the imported pagoda tree, purportedly the largest in the country

symmetry is greatly overrated

symmetry is greatly overrated

Eel Pond

Eel Pond

Aquinnah is the peninsula of colored clay cliffs at the southwest end of the island.  It used to be called Gay Head, and you used to be able to climb down the cliffs, until they realized that this was a very bad idea, contributing to the inevitable erosion.  DSCF3135 DSCF3138 DSCF3142

We didn’t have time to get to Menemsha, or spend any time in Vineyard Have or the inland places, but it was a nice break from the cities we’d been visiting.  And when Greta went to touch the ocean, I realized that we had really arrived at the other end of the country from where we started.

Cider and Donuts on Martha’s Vineyard

The cider stand on a street in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard smelled so good, there was no way we couldn’t stop our bikes and get some. The stand was operated by the Behind the Bookstore Cafe, and served coffee, fresh mulled cider, and homemade donuts. Neither the cider nor the donuts were overly sweet, counting on rich flavors instead of sugar to make it enjoyable. Which they both succeeded admirably in doing. The donut was the softest thing I have ever had in my mouth besides cotton candy. It was salted, which really brought out the sweetness of it. Any more flavor would have been overwhelming.

The mulled cider almost was overwhelming, and it looked almost as awesome as it tasted. It had little bits of apple floating in it, that rose to the surface then cooled and sank like a delicious lava lamp. Its taste was so intense that I couldn’t finish my whole cup then, I had to save it for later. A million spices I couldn’t even begin to identify covered my palate, in every taste except umami.P1040963

The stand is going to be open until December, so if you’re in the area, and can handle rich flavors, go get some cider. Seriously, even if you don’t like cider or are on a no-sugar diet, do it anyway. It is fantastic.