Letter From the Vineyard May 17, 2021 Lest we forget…

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Picture courtesy of Paul Doherty

Letter from the Vineyard

May 17, 2021

Let us not forget…

It is spring on the Vineyard, days have ricocheted between beautiful and sullen, though the last four days have been impeccable in their beauty — warm, succulent, island basking in springtime beauty, perfect Vineyard days, low 70’s, blue skies, sun kissed moments.  Friday, I walked out onto the store’s porch, looked up Main Street, traffic seemed like July.  Mask guidelines have been revised by the CDC, setting vaccinated people free from masks, though state guidelines vary, including those in Massachusetts.  Just more confusion in a confusing time. 

            Giddiness is in the air.  We feel we’re turning a corner, moving back to normality.  Grandparents rush to see grandchildren not on Zoom but in person. The bookstore is filled with folks who have come to the island for a respite, from Boston, New York, Washington, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut. It’s a place to which they could drive and a place that felt different.

            The island is coming to life. Flowers are beginning to bloom, trees budding green, smiles everywhere; we feel hope.

This is my second spring on the Vineyard, settling in, I guess, long term, a thought which makes me smile, unexpected, a playful thing the universe has done.

            Some friends feel I am living their dream, on the Vineyard, running a bookstore. Who knew so many media mavens had this fantasy?  Certainly I didn’t, until I was here; heard a chorus of colleagues say loudly: you are living my dream!

            The reality, of course, is a bit more complex. 

Currently, I seem to be the person people come to when they can’t find some book — the difficult to find, the out of print, the book which is only sold in Ireland. In most cases I can find what’s being sought.  It’s a pleasant challenge.

            Back in America, the world is riven. Liz Cheney, the oh so conservative Liz Cheney, was stripped of her position as third most powerful Republican in the House because she refuses to acknowledge that Trump didn’t lose, that the election wasn’t fairly won by Biden.  

            As someone who grew up in a Republican household, I have watched, with growing appall, as Republicans slowly swerved away from reality beginning with the election of Reagan, reaching near complete reality denial under Trump. 

Who are these people who profess “The Big Lie,” that somehow Trump won the election?  They now seem to own the Republican party.  Non-Trump Republicans are wrestling for the soul of the party, saying they will form a third party if the Republican Party does not repudiate Trump, which I doubt will happen.

            As I stare out into the almost preternatural beauty of the world blossoming green, the word on the climate change front is dire.  Each day these past weeks, there seems to be a new story warning us climate change is here; we have moved from theoretical to reality.

            Laurie David, Californian and Vineyarder, has written a new book, “Imagine It: A Handbook for a Happier Planet,” chockablock with ways to do something practical to make a difference.  It’s become a favorite of mine.  I interviewed her for the store’s Facebook page.  If you’re interested, you can see it here:

            It made me think we need a handbook for a happier political environment. The planet is toxic, and certainly the political environment here is, as in the U.K., India, other countries toxified, so much so we are not wrong to fear for democracy’s future.  

It is a fragile thing, strained here by four years of Trump’s presidency, his ongoing refusal to acknowledge he lost the election.  It is strained in India, where Modi presses down on truth.  Putin has returned Russia to the autocracy of the Tsars, even if he does not wear a crown.  Erdogan, Viktor Orban, the nascent German Far Right…

            Let us, in this glorious spring, in our celebration of a receding pandemic, not fall asleep to the challenges we need to face.

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