A lot of things changed for me in 2016. Since 2012, I had been going to Martha’s Vineyard once a year in September. My friends and I had started renting a house and we always had a really good time. That September there weren’t enough of us to rent a house, so my friend Dave and I stayed at The Edgartown Inn. I brought a friend from Toronto who had listened to me go on and on about Martha’s Vineyard for over forty years, and finally decided to find out for herself what all of the fuss was about. We had a great time. My trips to Martha’s Vineyard kept getting better and better. This one was no exception. This trip was notable as it was the first time that I went sailing with Catboat Charters and we all know what I fan of theirs I turned out to be! Like all good things, the trip came to an end, and we all went home. This is where the big change took place. I went home and I crashed…hard.
On the second or third day home from my trip to The Vineyard, I had a complete freak out. I had too good of a time and made a lot of really good friends. There was just no way I was going to be able to wait a whole year until I went back again! It just wasn’t going to happen! I panicked. I got an email from Porter Airlines telling me just how cheap it was going to be for me to fly back to Boston if I booked right away. So, I did.
I booked my flight to the Vineyard for my very first Christmas In Edgartown! The flight was paid for, but didn’t know how I was going to pay for the rest of the trip. I didn’t even know where I was going to stay! My usual places were closed in the off-season! I didn’t know anything but I knew I was going. Just having the flight booked made me breathe easier. I did go. I did sort it out. That was when I realized just how easy it was for me to go to Martha’s Vineyard every couple of months. It was an exciting revelation! Christmas In Edgartown was an incredible experience, but more about that later. That will be a post all its own. As soon as I got home, I started looking at when I could go back. My birthday was at the end of April. That seemed like the perfect time to go back again. Every three or four months sounded perfect.
And so it begins…
I flew into Boston’s Logan Airport on April 21st, 2017. Just to make my birthday trip extra special, one of my best friends, Kurt, picked me up at the airport. I really like the bus trip, but who wouldn’t prefer a ninety minute car ride with a good friend full of lively conversation and a lot of laughter? My birthday trip was off to a wonderful start! He dropped me at Woods Hole, as he had some things to do on The Cape, and I got on the ferry. I couldn’t believe that this was my third trip to the island in seven months! There would be no going back to one annual trip now. I knew that for certain.
My friend Dave from Connecticut had come to stay with me at The Edgartown Inn. We had plans to meet up with a few of our local friends for a birthday supper—Kurt was coming back for that too—on my actual birthday, but other than that, the weekend was pretty much open…for now.
Lisa Belcastro, a dear friend of mine, is also a writer of Martha’s Vineyard based novels. Lisa and I had first met when she reached out to me to ask whether of not I would like to be involved in the MVCS Possible Dreams Auction. I was thrilled to be considered and have been honoured to help out ever since. They do such excellent work.
Anyway, Lisa and I were meeting for breakfast at The Black Dog Tavern and it came up that I was a big fan of Cynthia Riggs—huge fan! Cynthia Riggs is a Martha’s Vineyard mystery writer who is held in very high regard. I’ve read all of her books. If you’re a Vineyard fan, you’ve probably read at least some of them. I don’t think that I am being overly dramatic when I say that she is something of a hero of mine. Lisa was thrilled to hear this as it turns out Cynthia is Lisa’s best friend. Lisa looked at me with her trademark smile—a smile that would cure anyone’s blues—and said, “I’ll call her right now. You’re going to meet her!”
One of my friends could not make the birthday celebration on my actual birthday, so she asked if I would have supper with her the day before. Of course, I said, yes! Who doesn’t want to spread their birthday into birthdays or birth weeks? This would turn out to be a very memorable supper as it was my first time eating at Rockfish in Edgartown—now, one of my favourite restaurants on the island.
Rockfish is on North Water Street in Edgartown Village. Its signage is not ostentatious, in fact, if you’re not looking for it, you could easily miss it even though it’s two storeys. The first floor is a bar while the second floor is more geared toward sit-down dining. It has become a regular spot for me and my friends. In fact, more often than not, one particular friend and I can be found on their second floor, splitting the veggie platter and a flatbread for which they are famous! Their flatbreads are amazing and the variety is always changing, which I love. That first night we had an incredible meal—and it wasn’t even my birthday yet! I have been back several times and I’ve never been disappointed.
I woke up on April 24th, 2017 in Edgartown. It was my birthday. I jumped out of bed like a five-year-old on Christmas morning. I never like to miss a sunrise on the island, and I certainly didn’t want to miss the sunrise on my birthday. It didn’t disappoint. I started out with a walk up North Water Street to the Edgartown Lighthouse. The morning was fresh and bright. I was meeting Lisa for breakfast in a couple of hours and then she was taking me to meet Cynthia Riggs. It was all set. Cynthia had invited us over for coffee and homemade birthday blueberry muffins! From the lighthouse, I walked back toward town and down to the Chappy Ferry. If there is a way to start your birthday that is better than a six a.m. Chappy Ferry ride watching the sunrise, I don’t know what it is.
After a typically delicious breakfast at The Black Dog, Lisa took me out to Cynthia’s farmhouse in West Tisbury. It’s a beautiful home in which her family has lived for nine generations! She was a truly gracious hostess. The sky was cloudless and the sun was warm. The three of us drank coffee, ate freshly baked blueberry muffins, and talked writing in Cynthia’s backyard. Cynthia gave me an autographed copy of her latest book and I gave her a copy of my fourth novel Pretty Vineyard Girls! This birthday was already fantastic and it wasn’t even half over!
That afternoon, Dave and I were driving across the island, when he said that there was somewhere that he wanted to go before supper, and he was pretty sure I had never been. I’m always game for anything on Martha’s Vineyard especially if it is something new. This did not disappoint. Dave took me to Island Alpaca Company! I had walked by Island Alpaca on my many crazy long walks, but I hadn’t actually walked up their long driveway to see what’s what. The alpacas are awesome and the products they sell are great! Alpaca wool is hypoallergenic, softer than sheep wool, and softer too! I definitely encourage everyone to visit the farm and grab a blanket and some socks!
Dinner came next. We were a small group—Donna, Christina, Hali, Dave, Kurt, and I—and we met at The Wharf in Edgartown. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole occasion. I know this because I barely remember a thing and I didn’t think to take any pictures! You know I’m excited when I don’t think to take photos. I think that might be the best example of irony that I’ve ever committed to print. My friends were far too generous. I was given JAWS memorabilia—of course I was—and a beautiful green sweatshirt from Slip77. I was also given a beautiful book about Martha’s Vineyard with a very touching inscription. That really meant a lot to me. I took a picture of the inscription, in fact, and it is in my favourites folder on my phone. I can read it when I’m feeling blue. Dave gave me one of those wooden maps of Martha’s Vineyard with the elevation/depth markings. Have you seen those? They’re amazing. He knew I had been pining for one for a very long time. I was blown away. Lastly, Kurt painted a painting of his catboat, Tigress, for me. It’s one of my prize possessions. I’m looking at it right now. There is no end to Kurt’s talents. He’s just one of those people—he can do anything.
I’ve probably had half of the birthdays that I’m ever going to have. If I have yet to have my best birthday ever, then this is the one to beat. Yes, it was the only birthday that I’ve had on Martha’s Vineyard so far, but it was the people who were with me that made it so special. What makes a good birthday is what makes a good life though, right? Just surround yourself with the right people…and eat lots of cake.