One of the thoughts that goes through every vacationer’s mind as they’re packing their suitcases is, “God, I hope the weather is good.” When they say this, they almost universally mean sunny, warm, even hot. Now, there will be exceptions to the rule; when a client of mine was heading down to Antarctic to kayak with penguins, I’m sure she wasn’t hoping for sunny and hot, but I know for a fact she was hoping she would not get rain. Even those who are heading to tropical rainforests are hoping for sun and a bit of dryness here and there. Martha’s Vineyard travellers—you know who you are—are no different. Our island is definitely one which has the reputation of “fun in the sun”. When we picture ourselves on the Vineyard, we’re sailing, lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and sitting on decks drinking beer and Dirty Bananas! All of which require one thing—sunshine. I would be telling a boldfaced lie if I didn’t tell you that every time I head to the island, I hope for one or two days of rain. Wait! Wait! Wait! I have my reasons! Bear with me…
I’ve always liked taking pictures but as my trips to Martha’s Vineyard increased in their frequency, so did my love for photography. It’s just so damned beautiful! I’m up before the sun and I tend to be out all day. I take my camera with me everywhere I go and on more than one occasion in a twenty-four hour period, I have to tell myself, “Okay! that’s enough!” Especially if I’m taking photos of a sunrise or a sunset. They keep changing and I want to capture every moment. The same goes for fog and rain. An overcast sky adds atmosphere on top of atmosphere. It layers on different kinds of beauty that I rarely get to see. Under no circumstances can the rainy days in the big city be compared to the rainy days of Martha’s Vineyard. Big city rain leaves you with oil and pollution on your skin. It leaves dark grey streaks down cement apartment buildings.
A Martha’s Vineyard rain is altogether different. An island rain and fog envelopes sailboats in magical mist. It leaves you uncertain about how many boats you can see. The water can be so still that it merges with the fog until you can no longer tell where the horizon is. Rain drips or even streams off of four hundred year old grooves onto peonies and hydrangeas that never get enough no matter how much they absorb. Their colours all the richer because of it.
I wake up on a rainy day on Martha’s Vineyard and I will allow myself a moment to listen to the rain hitting the window for a moment. I will revel in it. Then, I get up, get dressed, throw on my slicker and head to The Black Dog for breakfast. The Black Dog is my favourite place to have breakfast—I have made no secret of that—but to have breakfast there in the rain is a real thrill. Vineyard Haven Harbor is wondrous in a fog. It has a magic that Harry Potter could not match. It is bright, it is light, yet almost nothing is discernible. You will hear ferries long before you see them. The masts of the Shenandoah schooner fade in and out of your vision. My bacon and eggs are real but beyond that… What was it that Edgar Allen Poe said about a dream?
Gimme A Break
When I’m on-island, I spend almost every waking moment outside. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I’m not a huge fan of being indoors when I’m back home either, truth be told. In fact I write a lot of my Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries sitting on my balcony if it’s a nice day. Last June, I spent more than half of the month on-island and what a fantastic month it was! Do you remember? Last summer was hot and sunny. I spent hours upon hours on beach after beach. Sometimes, I mixed it up and I was on a sailboat. I remember by the time we had a rainy day, my body wasn’t all that happy with me. “Gimme A Break!” it screamed. My skin and my brain were done. They wanted to crawl into the deepest darkest corner they could find. I knew that the rain was a good thing. Besides, it gave me perfect opportunity to take advantage of some of my favourite indoor spots.
The Newes From America
I’m not even kidding—how awesome is a fire on a rainy, chilly day? I would definitely have a rainy day just to light a fire in the hearth if I had the power to do so. On a chilly, wet evening, The Newes From America has a fire going and even if it doesn’t, the pub is welcoming and friendly. The building has been there for hundreds of years and it has that vibe. Once inside, you feel like you’re in an old pub in England and at any moment some local old timer will tell you to “Beware the moors!” but I digress. I love The Newes. Everyone is always in a good mood and the French Onion Soup is my favourite the world over. Okay, I don’t really travel all that much, but I love their soup. I’m also a big fan of their fish and chips and their chicken wings. Add a tall Guinness to that order and I’m your man! The Newes is a great spot to get out of the rain.
There are many other places to while away your time when it’s raining on Martha’s Vineyard. There are great spots like Martha’s Vineyard Museum or Edgartown Books, but at least for a little while, I strongly encourage you to stay outdoors. Grab a coffee and a blueberry tea biscuit—seriously get one—or the pastry of your choice at Espresso Love and hop on the bus. I have always said that the Vineyard Transit Authority is a great way to see the island. The bus drivers can be a wealth of information too if you feel like chatting.
Me, I like to sit back with my headphones on and listen to MVYRadio. I’ll watch the world go by all the way out to Menemsha. If there’s a prettier spot than Menemsha when it’s raining, I haven’t seen it. Menemsha has never been a village that was wont for atmosphere but hen it’s raining, it’s over the top. Stanley Larsen and his crew will be more than happy to feed you once you get there. I’ll let you decide for yourself whether the chill of the weather is best fought with Stanley’s seafood chowder or lobster bisque.
Rainy Island Days vs Sunny City Days
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ll take a rainy day on the island over a sunny day in the city anytime. Some say that it depends who you’re with. If you’re lucky enough, some will always tell you that they wish you were with them. Whatever the reasons, whatever the weather, in my opinion, there is no place better to be than Martha’s Vineyard. As I sit here writing this, I’m sipping my coffee from my Black Dog mug. I’m far away from my island home but I can here the rain hitting the Black dog window and feel the wooden bench wobble beneath me. I can hear the ferry too but I can’t quite see it. Don’t worry, give it time…it will be here.