On Friday, the Joes and I spent the day exploring Martha’s Vineyard. Readers of this blog will surely know that Joe and I go there often; it’s one of our favorite spots. What might be less obvious was that it was our son’s first time on the island. He loved it. The next day he told our friend Kate that it’s like no place he’s ever been.
We began the day by exploring the collection of 19th-century Gothic cottages that make up the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. I explained to Little Joe that the cottages and large tabernacle replaced the tents erected by revivalists during the early camp meetings. Most of the cottages were constructed around the same time as the house we live in, which helped give him a better sense of chronology.
From there we drove to Aquinnah, where we had a wonderful picnic lunch. There were lots of potential annoyances for Little Joe to complain about: the long walk from the parking lot down the Moshup trail to the beach, the chill in the air, the fact that the beach was almost entirely covered in stones, which made walking difficult. He never complained once. He was immediately enchanted by the beauty of the place, how serene it is, and how majestic the cliffs are.
After lunch we dozed a bit and then went for a walk. We picked up some shells and rocks and talked about the clay, how the cliffs were formed, and why they are sacred to the Wampanoag people. Joe already knows why they are sacred to us. He knows that when his social worker asked us to write a letter introducing ourselves to Joe last fall right after we were matched with him, we wrote that letter in the shadow of Moshup’s cliffs. With the letter we enclosed a few bits of wampum that we found on the beach, and explained that the Wampanoag people often gave wampum when entering into covenants with one another and that we were giving wampum to him because of the covenant that we were entering together.
After a brief stop at Chilmark Chocolates, we drove to Edgartown, which is much more enjoyable in the off-season. We strolled along the waterfront to the Chappaquidick ferry crossing, where we explained to Joe that the tiny span of sea before him had once cost a man the presidency. I also explained that there had once been a bridge, but that the locals believed it cursed and replaced it with a ferry.
As we drove back to Vineyard Haven to catch the ferry back to Woods Hole, we stopped at the East Chop light house for a few quick photos. We told Little Joe that we’d be back several times before the end of the year. He seemed delighted. Grant it, until we get a sidecar for the motorcycle, we we’ll have to retire that means of transportaion; and without the motorcycle, it’s a longer trip and we’ll need to rely on the island’s bus system. We’ve done it without the motorcycle before, however. We might revive our old pattern of camping in Falmouth in order to avoid the long ride back to Boston after a day at the beach. Whatever we decide, we’ll be back there soon enough.
The top picture shows Aquinnah’s clay cliffs; the middle picture, the steeple of Edgartown’s Federated Church (1828); and the bottom picture, the East Chop light house.