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North Water Street

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No matter how much we love the Vineyard, there are times when it becomes so hectic that we need a break from the break we took here.  Crowds, heat, and noise conspire to drive us into sensory overload thus unraveling our reasons for coming here in the first place.  Edgartown, as much as I love it, is as prone to this phenomenon as any town on the Island.  (Though Five Corners at unloading time still sets the standard for MV insanity.)

 

While genuine isolation can be found up-island, on Chappy, and a few other places even during high season, there are times when I don’t want to travel that far to escape the hustle, bustle and tussle.  Fortunately, I know of the perfect outdoor oasis.  I share it here at the risk of exposing my secret.  (Let’s keep it to ourselves, shall we?)

 

Sequestered nicely between North Water Street, Summer Street, Winter Street and MainStreet, there is a block of quiet, calm and cool to be found right in the center of otherwise frantic Edgartown.  Behind the shops on those streets, a grassy respite awaits the overheated, overindulged tourist.

It’s just a small park with the usual accoutrements: grass, trees, benches and brick walkways.  Somehow, though, even on the steamiest of days, the shading oak trees keep this park cool and the surrounding buildings filter out the tumult of the streets.

 

This space has everything you’d need for a picnic… including ants.  (Nothing is perfect.)  My tastes, however, lean toward the decidedly more quiescent.  An ice cream cone or bag of “penny” candy is the perfect repast for me while I lounge in the shade.

 

Birds sing in the trees, oblivious to the craziness just a few flaps of the wing away.  A passing squirrel may shyly scamper by seeking his own shelter.  There are no bikes to dodge or mopeds to lag behind.  Just an occasional pedestrian passing through. There are no souvenirs, no food for sale – nothing to spend money on at all.  In other words, it has everything I need for a fleeting vacation from my vacation.

 

I never linger too long in this park.  Somehow, that would spoil the effect for me.  I simply sit or lie on the lawn, cool down, recharge, then head out to do battle once more with the madding throng.

 

I require an extra long break if I’m coming from Five Corners, though.

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
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Eisenhauer Gallery

Like most people who live on Martha’s Vineyard, I wear more than one hat. I love my job here with our guests at the Colonial Inn & Edgartown Residence Club, but I also would not feel like a whole person if I ever gave up my identity as a freelance illustrator. Those of us with an artist’s eye seem to be drawn to the island, which I blame on the truly magical quality of the light, whose beauty seems to reach its pinnacle in September and October. My theory has always been that this is caused by some mystical reflection off of all the water that surrounds us. No matter the reason, I’m sure all of you who have spent time here have lost yourselves in the beauty of the island also. But have you ever considered taking some of it home with you? The multitude of local and visiting artists make it possible for you to do just that. Stroll our countless galleries to take in the love of Martha’s Vineyard that covers the canvases of these incredibly talented men and women. There are far too many to name in one blog, so I will start right here in Edgartown.

You don’t even have to leave the Colonial Inn to visit one of the most versatile galleries in town, the Eisenhauer Gallery. Here you can find beautiful pastoral and seaside landscapes, classic still-lifes, and whimsical character studies, not to mention unique sculptures, one of a kind antiques, and an exquisite collection of jewelry.

Exit our back door and enter the Debra M. Gaines Gallery in Nevin Square. You won’t be able to resist taking home some of her reasonably priced, breathtaking island photography and/or her husband’s lovely Vineyard paintings.

Next, turn left and walk half a block to the Christina Gallery on the corner of Winter and North Water Streets to take in the ample collection of Impressionist oil landscapes and florals, still-lifes, and antique prints and maps.

Just across North Water Street, the North Water Gallery shows some of the islands most noted and respected artists. Feast your eyes and senses on some of the most exquisite landscapes and nautical oil paintings on Martha’s Vineyard.

For a completely different offering, turn right out the door and right again on Kelley Street, past the municipal lot, and into the Belushi Pisano Gallery, which honored us by moving to Edgartown from Vineyard Haven this year. The bright, happy interior is the perfect backdrop for the contemporary paintings and ceramics on display here.

Turn left on Dock Street and finish your art walk at the historic Old Sculpin Gallery and see their permanent collection of made-on-the-Vineyard art from 1879 to the present. If your walk has inspired your artistic abilities, you can sign up here for classes and workshops!

That’s enough of a stroll for one day, but keep your artistic juices flowing, because I haven’t even touched Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven or the very special up island galleries yet!

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
4th-of-July-by-CitySteph
4th of July by City Steph

You can’t come to Martha’s Vineyard without noticing the vast number of different accents you encounter in your day – the girl at the coffee shop is Russian, the guy who drives the cab is from Bulgaria, your housekeeper is Jamaican and thishotel manager is Scottish. To many, it’s part of what makes the Vineyard so special – almost everyone is from somewhere else and bring with them their own traditions and perspectives while adopting a good measure of the local culture.

This weekend will be my 11th July 4th celebration – 10th on Martha’s Vineyard. In Scotland, holidays are still mostly the old Christian calendar holidays with a couple of ‘Bank Holidays’ thrown in (basically an administrative day off for the whole country), so I have come to love my American holidays – Memorial Day to celebrate those who protect and have protected, Labor Day for the workers, Thanksgiving reminds us all how lucky we are, but my favorite of all has to be 4th of July!

On my 1st July 4th on Martha’s Vineyard I was lucky enough to be swept up by my American colleague, “Let me show you all the fun of a real July 4th!” Well, I’m pretty game for an adventure, so I put myself in her hands and boy am I glad that I did!

The 1st stop was the lawn of the Old Whaling Church for a good old fashioned BBQ. Burgers, dogs with all the fixins’, kids screaming and laughing, parents chasing, grandparents sitting back and enjoying – good old family fun!

Down to North Water Street next for ice cream from my favorite spot, Mad Martha’s – voted the Best of the Vineyard for several years, and in the Top 10 in the USA Today a few years ago – it really is a fantastic place – cones, cups, sundaes, toppings – everything a dessert lover could wish for.

So, ice cream in one hand and flag in the other, we found a perch on the steps of theColonial Inn courtyard to watch the parade – and oh, what a parade it is! Having never seen a big city parade, my frame of reference is limited, but I am assured it is small town Americana at its best. The parade starts at 5ish (remember – you’re on Vineyard Time) and confuses many by looping through town in the opposite direction to the usual traffic flow. It starts at Edgartown Elementary School, takes a Left at Pease Point Way and loops behind the town center to head along North Water Street in the ‘opposite’ direction and then UP Main Street.

The Selectmen from all the towns lead off in antique vehicles, many local businesses decorate floats with many varied themes, lots of kids sports teams and other non-profits have tons of fun entertaining the crowds – skaters, dancers, musicians, gymnasts and many others besides. The towns’ fire trucks are decked out, the Island Veterans always get a huge cheer and imagine my surprise when a group of men in kilts and ladies in tartan processed by followed by a Bagpipe Band – did they do this just to make me feel a part of the fun? Alas no, it’s the local Scottish Society (although it sure did make it all feel a bit more familiar).

After the fun of the parade we took a break, enjoyed the great atmosphere in town and then headed up to Lighthouse Beach to stake out our spot for the fireworks. They are set off from a barge just off-shore of the Lighthouse, in the outer harbor, so the beach is really the best vantage point, although you can see them from other locations a bit farther out. They usually start around 8.30 – 9pm (once it’s dark enough) and the show never disappoints.

Who wouldn’t love this holiday!! The events continue this year, in the same way they did on my 1st year here – will we see you? What are you doing for the 4th?

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

There have been discussions around the Colonial Inn since we started posting blog articles. Several of us have realized that…our hotel guests often see more of the Island than we, who live here, do!

Now, in our defense, hotel guests are here to visit. They have the freedom to meander and see the sights during their time of leisure. A large part of my job is to send them to lovely places. I have been to many places on the Island that are lovely, but I may not have been there recently.

Yesterday I took a very looong walk with my daughter. It started out as a quick trip to the library but as we exited, my toddler hung a hard left and strode with Purpose down Water Street. She was a trooper. She walked on her own until a half block from the end of the street and then said “Dada, up, please” which of course is my only task on this journey. (Sherpa…a father’s job anywhere on the planet!)

Here’s what I found: I have worked on North Water Street for five and a half years now and I hardly SEE it anymore. I scamper about the property during the summer trying to keep all the bells and whistles running, all the hula-hoops turning that a hotel requires. (Curse Bob Newhart, with his sweater vest and coffee mug. He makes running an Inn look so easy!)

Well, at full toddler speed, which alternates between full sprint and spiraling drift, I was able to look more closely at Water Street than I have in years. It truly is lovely. The old whaling captain’s houses, some of which are dated from as early as 1850, are in various states of disrepair and undergoing repair as we pass. The white picket fences are overwhelmed with greenery and blooms from all the rain. I was afraid to let Kate lean too heavily on some as there were several that may not have supported her, but we did stop to smell the roses.

There are tiny gates on many of the fences with thick green lawn behind. Some of those have paths that run back into trellises, dark little tunnels that look magical. We could not venture back there, although with a toddler I could have explained away the trespassing with ease.

My Little Adventurer rallied when we reached the path to the lighthouse. (There is nothing better than a crushed shell path to regain the energy in little legs…and the flowers are spectacular. We liberated a black-eyed Susan, which sadly was too well loved to finish the journey with us.) Boats and waves, gulls and shells, with Kate so fascinated with them all, I found myself viewing them with new wonder myself.

In an area that gets so busy with tourism and keeps me hopping during the summer months, I appreciate the time walking with my little one and looking at things in a fresh way.

By the time I carried her all the way back to the Colonial Inn, I needed a nap myself, but what a way to spend a rare sunny afternoon. She charted a course and swept me along. It was not the white edges of the map where there ‘be dragons’, but it was a good start for an 18 month old.

I want to teach her to love adventure, but it seems I’ll learn from her too. That’s a fair trade!

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown