Letter From A Vagabond 06 12 2019 Island thoughts…


There has been a struggle going on to get out a “letter.” My thoughts have been Hodge Podge and I couldn’t quite bring anything together.  It’s been frustrating but, well, so is life and the frustration of word smithing is mild compared to the frustrations of living in Syria.

There was an evening that was filled with quiet and the brilliant opalescence of sunset, a slow fade of light into the night, a beauty to be relished as I sat at my makeshift desk in the little Edgartown cottage where I am spending the summer.  Upbeat jazz was playing, and I was tired, a good, having exerted myself a bit kind of tired.

It was sweet.

That was the night, I started writing.  And then something happened out there in the world that interrupted the Zen of my island living and I couldn’t get out a word.  I would flip open my laptop, open the document and stare at the cursor.  Nothing.

Last Thursday and Friday, I did a quick trip to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with WETA, with my friend Dalton, about a project, and then back to the Vineyard.

And I am grateful for the sweetness of these Vineyard days.

There was a morning when I woke before the alarm to a slightly foggy early Vineyard day, watching it blossom to into the best Vineyard day since I have arrived, crystalline clear, warm but not too warm, a Goldilocks kind of day.

Driving back, another day, from picking up my laundry, up in Vineyard Haven, the opposite side of the island, I was thinking about how sweet it was to be on an island.  Martha’s Vineyard is not a small island, but it is an island, cut off in a way, in a very nice way; the way islands are.

For millennia, I was thinking that morning, artists, writers, politicians have sought islands to find perspective. Sappho found Lesbos.  Tiberius lived on Capri.  Gaugin had Martinique, and then Tahiti. Clinton, then Obama, retreated here during and after their presidencies.

For generations, writers have found Martha’s Vineyard a refuge for thought.  The wonderful Geraldine Brooks, whose novel, “Caleb’s Crossing” is an amazing story, based on true events, of the first Native American to attend Harvard, lives on the island.

Her husband, Tony Horowitz, a Pulitzer Prize winner, lived here, and, while on tour for his new book, “Spying on the South,” dropped dead of a major cardiac event, the kind they call “The Widow Maker.”  Historian David McCollough lives here.

Islands give us an opportunity for perspective. And I am so glad I am on an island this summer, as this is a time when perspective is needed.

On the last leg of the journey, flying towards the Vineyard, returning from DC, I was glad to be coming back, to be cossetted on the Vineyard for the summer, with a sense of safety from the madness on the mainland.

For this bit of time, I have found refuge on Martha’s Vineyard, where there is no vineyard, an island, a little bit out of the mainstream, though terribly much a part of the mainstream in that it attracts movers and shakers but where I am distanced, just a bit, from the idiocy around us.




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