shade in Martha's Vineyard

by Rick Conti

In my last post, I espoused the abundant virtues of the sun.  It’s one of the reasons we all flock to the Vineyard, on or off-season.  The fact that it is a necessity of life is just icing on the proverbial cake.

Even the most die-hard sun worshipers need a break from time to time.  When the perspiration epoxies your Black Dog T-shirt to your back, a solar headache flares, or your face takes on the hue of a bin of Macintosh apples at Morning Glory Farm, it’s time to seek shelter: shade.  Though it seems like a precious commodity on some sweaty summer days in August, it’s there as your reward if you know where to look.

As I see it, there are two valid ways to escape the relentless panini-press of the summer sun: trees and porches.  (Did you say air-conditioning?  Go directly to Woods Hole, do not pass “Go”, do not collect Steamship tickets!)

My favorite of the non-porch variety is described in a previous post from a few years back.  That all still applies.  For my money (since it’s free) it’s the gold standard for Edgartown, but there are plenty of other options all over the island.

Though geographically near the baked earth of Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs, the MV Camp Meeting grounds couldn’t be further away climatically.  Beyond the obvious charm of the homes there, the area seems to be zoned to exclude the overbearing heat and sun just a block away.  Find a bench under its leafy canopy (or even inside the tabernacle itself) for a while and you’ll soon be sufficiently revived to brave the mobs of Circuit Ave once more.

The interior of the island overflows with au natural options, from the State Forest to Polly Hill Arboretum.  Just get off the main drags and you’re likely to drive right into a suitable respite.

The great thing about the porch option is that those structures are invariably connected to something cool, temperature and vibe-wise.  It could be a retail/food outlet such as Alley’s or the Chilmark General store or lodging like Vineyard Square or the Harborview (am I allowed to say that?).  Such haunts are spread far and wide over MV, allowing you to chill while you chill.

Beyond shade, porches offer a community ambiance that is without parallel.  Where else can you converse with friends and not-yet-friends, wave greetings to passersby, and consume a drink or slice of pizza all at the same time?

So have your choice: sun, shade, or a zebra-striped smattering of both.  Since you’re on the Vineyard, you can’t lose either way.

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