Letter from the Vineyard 28 October 2019 Island perspective…


“It was a dark and stormy night,” wrote Bulwer-Lytton, opening his 1830 novel, “Paul Clifford.”  It has since become a synonym for bad writing, but some nights are dark and stormy, such as last night, when gale force gusts of wind bent young trees to their will, rain slashing down as I drove home, obscuring both the road and vicious puddles.  It was a night to be huddled indoors, with a good book, curled up with a blanket tucked around oneself.

On Sunday, trick or treaters invaded the store in gangs from 10 to 1, a time moved up from noon to three because of the threatening storm.  My favorite was a little girl, barely walking, dressed as a unicorn. It was, I think, her very first Halloween and she was doing her best to figure it out.  Another favorite was a very young man who had a skeleton’s costume with a mask that made it difficult to see; he literally flung himself into the store, followed by his father, guarding him from tumbles.

It was wonderful.

Good thing they moved the time as, by two, the rain was pelting ferociously and people now flung themselves into the bookstore, looking for refuge and amusement.  Some were biding time until they could get on stand-by for the ferries.  All said there were worse places to be stranded than Martha’s Vineyard, to which I heartily agreed, not stranded here though somewhat plumped here by events, for which I have no regret.

A local writer wrote “Goats in A Time of Love,” which I accepted in June.  We have now sold over a hundred copies, which means it is on the top of our list of best sellers for our bookstore and it keeps walking out the door.  It’s an island phenomenon.  I told Tracey, the author, I feel a bit like an editor who discovered someone.

Yesterday, I mentioned to a customer at the store it was a day to curl up with a cozy mystery, for which there is a category: Cozy Mysteries. And it is, because a cozy mystery is so preferable to the din of the outside world.

When I look beyond this island, I see a world tumbling in chaos.  In Hong Kong, Santiago, Baghdad, there are violent protests raging.  My friend Catherine was to have left for Santiago for a conference, which has now been moved to a time TBD because of the violence.

Al Baghdadi, head of ISIS, blew himself up, along with three of his children, as U.S. forces cornered him.  Ironically, it happened with the help of the Kurds, who feel abandoned by the U.S.

President Trump suggested an alliance with ExxonMobil, or some company, to exploit Syrian oil, which, when I saw it flash across my mobile screen, brought me to the retort in 2003, as were invading Iraq, “No blood for oil.”  It was a comment that left me staggered – though I was not the only one, thank goodness.

Currently, after that comment, the Kurds think we have abandoned them for oil.  But, for whatever reason, we have abandoned them.  The BBC reports from the region are heartbreaking.

Now, we have BREXIT, too, a drama that goes on and on and on.  When I have British customers in the store, I occasionally ask them what they think.  Most are horrified.  One lady was very much in favor of it, and I must admit, she was the first individual from Britain who has expressed support.  My British friends, and I have more than a few, are horrified.

So it is we live in a terribly complicated world which is why, in this moment, it feels so good to be on this currently windswept island, called by Susan Branch, “Isle of Dreams,” which it is to many, a place where, as a visitor, you can forget the turmoil behind, and, as a resident, rejoice there is a slice of water protecting you, a bit, from the madness back there.

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