Letter from the Vineyard 03 11 2023

Photo courtesy of Paul Doherty

The other night the last full moon of the winter lorded over the night sky; I went to the head of the driveway to soak in its beauty for a moment, basking in the white night light of our moon, overwhelmed, just a bit, by the serenity of the moment.

It is March on the Vineyard, seesawing between spring moments and winter wraiths, days clouded, days sun kissed.

For the first time in four years, I went on vacation, a Caribbean cruise, gone for two weeks, sailing from Port Canaveral, eleven days at sea, a buffer couple of days on either side, an undemanding itinerary, which is what I wanted, on a cruise line I’d never heard of, MSC, which, turns out, is the fourth largest cruise line in the world though just beginning to enter the North American market.

One of the things I love about cruises is they can be undemanding. And I ached for undemanding.

My reading was beach read level, THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO, a monstrous bestseller over the last couple of years, so much so last summer you couldn’t get a copy to save your soul.

Also read THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB, best British mystery I have read in a long time, clever, accessible, full of great characters, the first in a four-part series; can’t wait to start the second.

One of the things I like about cruises is it gives you time to think, loving the days at sea, sitting on the balcony, watching the warm waters of the Caribbean slip by while you assess your world.

My world is now the bookstore. As once other things anchored me in life, Edgartown Books now anchors me in this part of my life. Edgartown, a place where I never expected to be a resident.

These are the wonders and wonderful moments of life.

While delighted in my life here, I am aware when I left on my cruise, the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was nearly surrounded, fighting to stay free.  When I returned, it was the same.  Every day I am astounded by the Ukrainians, who are showing so much mettle.

There was an article I stumbled upon while cruising, though attempting to avoid news, indicating we Americans are tiring of the Ukrainians. This is what Putin is counting on, we grow bored, a terrible stain on us if we did.

In the meantime, it’s getting difficult for Putin to hide the cost of his adventure; too many bodies piling up. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Not that I see a regime change happening.  Though Putin becomes a bit more bizarre every day.  The most recent rumors have him sleeping in a pod which infuses oxygen, not unlike the one Michael Jackson used.

If you look at Putin’s face these days, I’m guessing a lot of steroids are in play.

Xi Jinping has taken China in a strange direction, cuddling up to Putin, seeing the two countries as the new balance to the west.  It’s, and I am not a Sinophile, a radical change from the direction China was taking before him.

Even if you’re having a wonderful afternoon, reading good books on the balcony of your cabin, overlooking the Caribbean, these global issues seep into your mind.

As do the bitter issues of our own politics.  President Trump keeps railing about his stolen election. It was a talking point for all of Fox’s lead hosts, except that none of them believed it. But they were worried about ratings and the stock price. Tucker Carlson, really? You worried more about the stock price than the truth. What a surprise!

Fox has been exposed. It is not a news network. It is driven by catering to an audience created under the brilliant, malevolent force of Roger Ailes, driving viewers to the right by spewing untruths, day after day after day.

It’s my hope Dominion prevails in its lawsuits against Fox as it has been unveiled in its exorable reality, a “news” organization not driven by news but by a political agenda, a propaganda machine for the right, a money-making machine for the Murdoch family.  Should I make allusions to the Krupps?

Night has settled on the Vineyard, we leap forward this evening, an annual ritual leaving most of us cranky, certainly me.  Out there in the night, Ukrainian soldiers are still cling to Bakhmut, ships are sailing, trains are running, planes land and take off, people cook dinner, we go on, because that’s what we do, we go on.  As I grow older, I understand Mother Courage more – and less.

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