Friday, July 20, 2012

Lake Tashmoo, Vineyard Haven

There are so many things to do in Martha's Vineyard that it's often difficult to make a choice. My friends, MaryAnn and Charlie live on the island and often have the inside scoop on some of the more interesting options. Prior to arriving at our anchoring destination in Lake Tashmoo I emailed MaryAnn updating her on our ETA. As usual she had an array of possible activities planned for us.

One option was a private garden tour of several historic sea-captain's homes in Edgartown. MaryAnn was recently elected vice president of the Martha's Vineyard Garden Club and as a member invited me to join the walking tour. Garden club members with names such as Winky and Sunny greeted attendees at each home and provided historical tidbits regarding the homes and gardens. It was a pleasure and a privilege to see these lovely historic homes and manicured flower gardens that overflowed with native and exotic blooms.

Lobster dinner on the beach at Menemsha was on the itinerary the following evening at sunset. Charlie and MaryAnn picked us up at the dinghy dock at Lake Tashmoo and drove out to Menemsha.

Each evening at sunset locals and visitors gather on the beach to celebrate sundown. At first glance it appears to be a subdued gathering of groups of families and friends dipping in the water and having picnic dinners on the beach. Much like the revelers at Mallory Square in Key West groups soon evolved into guitar strumming, blues harmonica playing, off key singing, dancing merrymakers. There was a palpable excitement in the air before sunset. Unfortunately, clouds moved in obscuring the sunset. It was beginning to get dark and people began packing up and preparing to leave. We and a handful of others remained on the beach.

Nearby on a jetty a group of a dozen or so young women were gathering. It was almost dark and they were working simultaneously at a task of lighting large white luminaries that were being held by one or two girls. Flames were lit beneath each semi elliptical shape while one or two girls attempted to hold it outstretched. Amazingly, the "balloons" would expand and begin rising from their grip. When released the glowing orbs tenuously lifted from the outstretched arms of the girls and floated one after another over Vineyard Sound. Everyone watched in amazement as they rose thousands of feet into the sky only to be carried away from shore by gentle off shore breezes. As each orb floated off the jetty I heard several girls ask others if they made a wish while cheers and applause erupted on the beach. We went in for a closer look and to inquire about the nature of these magical floating luminaries. One girl explained that they were called wish lanterns and that the tradition originated long ago in China where for centuries lanterns have been lit and released into the heavens along with positive wishes for happy couples on their wedding day.

When the final lantern was lit and lifted skyward young girls' secret wishes were sent along along their way.There was no sunset to speak of that evening yet all who stayed on the beach anticipating something special at Menemsha were not disappointed.

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Location:Martha's Vineyard