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South Beach

Daddy and his Shadow girls
By Pink Sherbet Photography

Diversity is a buzzword people like to throw around, referring mostly to people who look or behave differently from one another.  Rarely does it refer to anything much beyond the surface.  The fact is that true diversity occurs deep within.  It can rarely be seen from the outside but must be experienced personally.  I contend that Martha’s Vineyard offers a variety unlike other places.   There are so many different things to do for so many different kinds of people in so many different types of places.

A diversity of places…

The terrain, dwellings, and sights on the island are so varied that you might be tempted to think you are in more than one place at the same time.  Hills, farms, beaches, forests, busy streets, and quiet parks are among the habitats available to enjoy.  If you have a change of mood, a change of environment is only a short drive, walk, bike ride, or bus trip away.  In fact, you could become disoriented just by turning around in some locales.

There is even variety in similar ecosystems: State Beach can be as calm as a lake while South Beach can be so tempestuous that it can toss you like so much dirty laundry..

…with a diversity of activities…

From the serenity of kayaking in a placid lagoon to the insanity of parasailing on the turbulent air currents above State Beach, there is truly something for everyone here.  I like to sit on South Beach and read, but if I decide to soar silently over that beach, gliders await at nearby Katama airfield offering that option.  I can bike on the flat paths around the airport or challenge the hills of Aquinnah.

What youngster can resist the lure of the brass ring on the Flying Horses?  (What parent can resist helping said child?)  If that’s too tame for the older kids, they can take real horse rides through the fields and trails of West Tisbury.  The Aggie is a blast while neighboring Polly Hill Arboretum is a tranquil refuge.

Dining offers the same variety.  The Quarterdeck, a classic walk-up clam shack, is mere steps away from the upscale L’Etoile, but don’t try wearing the same apparel to both.

…for a diversity of people.

Families, singles, infants, and elders will all find appropriate diversions.  The crazies and the lazies will similarly find their niches.  Rich retirees from New Jersey coexist with newlyweds from Chicago.  The acclaimed and the obscure can rub elbows in shops and bars.  During the summer, you might be served ice cream by a college senior from Bulgaria or buy a drink from a senior citizen native islander.

I love many things about the Vineyard, but high on the list is that I feel as if I can visit many different places with a single visit to the Island.

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

At the beginning of every month, I set about writing a post for this blog.  I don’t get paid – it’s truly a labor of love.  There are plenty of wonderful things about Martha’s Vineyard, so there is no shortage of topics to write about.  Still, I often find myself conflicted about what my subject matter will be from month to month.

At the start of 2011 (one’s are wild as I write this – it’s 1/1/11) you’d think that the anxiety would be intensified, what with this being the commencement of a new year and all.  Yet because of today’s unusual events, it became one of my easiest tasks to date.

My family and I spent several days of the Christmas/New Year holiday break on Martha’s Vineyard, enjoying our home at the Edgartown Residence Club.  Thankfully, we arrived after the “Blizzard of 2010”, which turned out to be more of a bust than a blizzard where I live.  Each day after our arrival, the temperature increased.  I was able to spend several hours out on the deck reading in the sunshine.  Bliss.  But it was about to get better.

By Saturday, New Year’s Day, the virtual mercury had soared to the sunny mid-50’s.  Unable to resist the lure of the unseasonably high temperatures, our crew headed – where else – for South Beach.  As we approached the coast, the temperature dropped by a degree every few hundred feet we drove.  By the time we hit sand, it was downright brisk, but our excitement had not cooled off at all.

This was an exceptional opportunity.  I took advantage of the moment by removing my shoes and walking barefoot in the cool sand.  Near the dunes, the sand was warm and the wind was blocked, but as always the action was nearer the water.  The surf was agitated and high.  It was all I could do to keep my feet on solid ground.  I think it was that darn sense of self-preservation that prevented me.

We were not the only ones who had the same design.  South Beach, while not overrun as it is in the summer, still had a number of frolickers, most human but a few canine, drawn to a fleeting dream of summer.

One doesn’t often get the chance to ring in the new year in such spectacular fashion.  Not more than once a year anyway.

We carved the date in the sand as a reminder of a very special day at a very special place.

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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

Purple Spring Flower by NoahqI walked out of my house the other day and my daughter said “It smells like spring!”  She was right… spring has arrived and it’s amusing to see the excitement that a sunny day can bring to our Martha’s Vineyard community after a long, cold and gray winter.  The enthusiasm in the air is contagious!  Personally, being a southerner by upbringing, my joy is unmatched to once again feel the sun’s warmth.  Having lived in New England for more years than I need to share, I have learned that I can’t watch the calendar and hold my breath for this annual occurrence.  Some years we experience the joy of warming weather and burgeoning spring blossoms in March, and other years we seem to skip spring entirely and blast right into summer in late June.

Thankfully, this year seems to be following the first path and we are all relishing the early emergence of this celebrated season.  What does one do on the island in spring?  Ahhhh, I was hoping you would ask!  The answers are as varied as the population, but here are some family friendly highlights:

My family’s favorite spring ritual is to head to South Beach to “chase waves”.  This is a spring tradition because it is too cold and windy in the winter when the kids inevitably get wet (my 8 year old usually ends up looking like he has been swimming…) I usually find very few other people on the beach in the spring, and having an expanse of beach and ocean all to yourself is a very peaceful feeling…  as long as you cant hear my kids yelling at the waves!  I also appreciate the spring at South Beach because the kids (other than the 8 year old) are not tempted to go swimming.  The surf and current can be very strong, so I avoid South Beach for the warmer, swimming expeditions; but for wave chasing, it’s perfect!

One sign of spring that may be unique for Martha’s Vineyard is the much anticipated opening of Edgartown’s Dairy Queen.  This year’s opening day saw a line wrapped around the porch and into the parking lot!  I personally do not think it is the quality of their soft serve that draws this kind of crowd (although it’s yummy).  It may be the general absence of fast food or chain stores on the island, or the fact that they were closed all winter.  The Dairy Queen is one of the first seasonal operations to reopen, and it is a sure sign of spring!  Being a crank in crowds, I avoid “opening day”, but we did make our first obligatory spring pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard’s Dairy Queen the following weekend.  Although there was a little chill in the air, we ate our ice cream at their picnic tables in the sunshine, and enjoyed every minute of it!

Another anticipated spring opening is the Flying Horse Carousel.  My children are getting older, but I think a visit to the Carousel will continue to be an annual spring tradition until they have kids of their own to put on those beautiful antique horses!  This year the Flying Horses opened on Easter weekend for weekends, and will be open all week during the April school vacation week April 19-23.   As I confessed earlier that I try to avoid crowds, you can probably guess why I like to visit the Flying Horses in the spring.  A spring visit usually buys me a “pass” with the kids during the more popular summer months…  I always have a strategy!

A pilgrimage to Felix Neck is another spring tradition.  Felix Neck is an Audubon Sanctuary and open year round; but as I am a wimp in the cold Southerner at heart, I tend to avoid outdoor activities in January and February.  Spring is a great time to explore their four miles of nature trails and look for signs of new life.  Along the way, some of us enjoy the impressive views of woodlands, meadows, and ponds, as well as the salt marsh and barrier beach.  I say some of us, because my 8 year old doesn’t slow down from chasing wildlife long enough to enjoy the scenery.  But everyone enjoys the peace after he is worn out!  I am sure that some of the other parents out there can relate!  The Nature Center and Discovery Room at Felix Neck is also worth a visit.  They now have an “owl cam” to see barn owls nesting in their barn dormer.

If that’s not enough reasons to come for a visit this spring, The Colonial Inn is offering really attractive spring rates that are sure to convince you that you shouldn’t wait to come explore Martha’s Vineyard!  What are your favorite spring time traditions?  I’d love to hear your ideas and hope to see you spending some fun family time on Martha’s Vineyard soon!

Photo by Noahg

 

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

wasqueSouth Beach is anything but cool. It’s crowded, cacophonous and constantly in motion. To be really cool, you’ve gotta be seen at Lucy Vincent, Wasque, Moshup or one of the other more exclusive spots. But exclusivity is the problem for me. I don’t want to have to be a resident, I don’t want to have to take a boat (ferry) to the beach and I sure as shootin’ don’t want to pay!

Beaches should be a populist affair. Liberty and justice, everyone created equal, power to the people, all for one and one for all and all that. South Beach fits that bill to a capital “T”. The ocean there is no respecter of persons. The waves at Katama (a.k.a. South Beach) will slap you around mercilessly, be you pauper or prince, president or peon. When it dunks you under, it doesn’t ask first if you’re a year-rounder, a Yankee fan or a Cabot.

Just a few miles from downtown Edgartown, there is no fee for parking, although you might have to fight for your vehicle’s place in the sun. The bike path leads right up to the sand. Life guards in classic bright red. Kites in the sky chasing sight-seeing biplanes and gliders. Entire families embroiled in full contact Frisbee battles. Every shape, size and color of sun-bather. This is the real deal!

Yet, South Beach does have its touches of gentility as well. The houses overlooking the sea from the far side of Atlantic Drive are nothing short of awe-inspiring. And the porta-potties are really first rate. These are not your run-of-the-mill construction site denizens. These beauties set the standard for functionality and cleanliness. (OK, maybe I’ve gone too far with that one.)

Actually, it’s the surf that does it for me. South Beach has the most awesome surf (or “waves of the sea” as my kids called them when they were little). I don’t even have to get in it. (Sometimes, I prefer not to!) I just have to watch it, breakers eternally rushing in then sliding back into their own oncoming successors. No, I just have to hear it. The crashing surf is a natural symphony to my ears, with its own fascinatin’ rhythm and melody. It’s truly a rhapsody in blue, green and many other hues as well.

So there you have it. Take your Lambert’s Cove and your wildlife refuges. The life at Katama is wild enough for me! Give me liberty or give me… Well, give me South Beach and I’ll be happy.

Image courtesy of Trustees of Reservations

 

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

sandcastlesHello friends. It’s hard to believe that the busy month of August is almost upon us. Those of you who are August regulars know that the BIG activities and events all occur in fast succession at the end of the season. Being a bit of a recluse myself, I have always admired our end of summer visitors. I figure they are happy people who, more than anything else, love being around other happy people. Sometimes the crowds can be a little overwhelming, but there is not one event in August that isn’t worth the inconvenience of having your toes stepped on occasionally.

So many things of note occur in August, that I believe I’ll have to commit myself to at least two blog posts, beginning with the first couple weeks of this extraordinary month.

Everything kicks off on the third of August with the annual Possible Dreams Auction. This wonderful event is in its 31st year and has become a legend in its own time. All benefits go directly to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, which provides accessible education and health and human services for islanders. We are eternally grateful to all the seasonal and year round celebrities and high-profile executives who generously donate their time and personal talents and gifts to this great cause. Not to mention the army of auction volunteers who knock themselves out making the entire event run smooth as silk.

I  am not talking about bidding on Aunt Agnes’s vintage pearls, or Uncle John’s antique tool collection here. This year, you can bid on an opportunity to bring along 17 of your closest friends to enjoy a private suite at the Garden for the Celtics game of your choice, including a pregame dinner with managing partner Wyc Grousbeck and Celtics legend JoJo White.

The more hands-on bidders can try for a private kitesurfing lesson with Black Dog CEO Rob Douglas and actor Lenny Clark, finish with a Black Dog catered picnic on the beach, and go home with the kite.

Perhaps you’d prefer 18 holes and lunch at Farm Neck Golf Club with presidential pal Vernon Jordan.

Or moms and dads might like to treat your kids to a picnic with Clifford, the big Red Dog and his creator Norman Birdwell and take home an original painting of Clifford in a Vineyard setting.

These are only several of the Dreams offered this year. And there are always lots of surprises. True, the auction is not quite the same without dear Art Buchwald at the podium, and there will be an extra air of sadness that our beloved Walter Cronkite, a regular at the auction, is no longer with us. But it will not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants of 2009. We are all very excited about the new venue, two large tents on Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs, where even more people than before can enjoy the fun. The action starts at 3:30 PM. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re not there to bid. Spend the $25 admission fee just for the fun, or give yourself a special treat and go for the $300 post auction dinner. It’s all for an incredible cause, that you’ll be proud to have been a part of. For more information, the Possible Dreams website.

And if that’s not enough excitement for you, on the fifth, enter the 5th annual Sand and Sculpture Contest on South Beach from 10 AM until 3 PM. Then clean the sand from between your toes by the 10th, put on your casual best, and go to the Hospice Summer Soiree and Auction at 5:30 PM at Farm Neck Golf Club.

Phew! Wait until I get to the last two weeks of August and tell you about Grand Illumination Night, Oak Bluffs Fireworks, and the Agricultural Fair!  Coming soon…

Image courtesy of hrh_23

 

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