Creative Monikers for Collections of Creatures

As an ilk of Islanders, we have developed some strange habits. We almost never go on a trip alone. Most significant voyages require us to gather together, a muddled mass starting at a designated time and place to join others trying to accomplish the same thing. Luckily we are helped by a stack of deckhands that guide us aboard a boatload of ferries. One of them, with any luck, has space for you and your carful of clutter.

Some of us never leave the Island. The townies among us find solidarity with an abundance of abutters: a clutch of Chilmarkers, a klatch of Chappaquiddickers (or Chappy chaps for short), an exaltation of Edgartownians, a terrarium of Tisburians, or an order of Oak Bluffers. Each insists they have their own issues, and they don’t always cooperate on everything.

If you are not loyal to your locale, perhaps your vocation or hobby brings you together with like-minded folks. To take care of business, you may be one of a selection of selectmen or a cabaret of county commissioners. Those who are very vocal about protecting the natural features of the Island tend to join up with a cackle of conservationists. Fighting for more solar power and wind turbines is a battery of alternative-energy supporters. I sometimes run with these groups, and our time might be spent speaking of species, proselytizing about protection, or singing out about sustainable strategies.

Like to get your hands dirty? You could join up with a knot of carpenters, find solidarity with a yard of landscapers, or spend time with a spackling of plasterers.

For the complainers among us, there are lots of options: The newspapers make space for a pen of op-ed’ers and a litter of letter-to-the-editor writers, while online newspaper comments appeal more to the anonymous annotator or the nameless nudge.

Those who enjoy finding their own food could hang out with a hoard of hunters, a muck of clammers, a cast of anglers, or a network of net workers. Spend time with these groups and you are sure to eat well! A kettle of clambakers seems like a nice group to party with.

Mother Nature has her own associations of similar species. Birds of a feather flock together. There is a gaggle of geese, a colony of gulls, and a murder of crows. On Island roadways, a rafter of turkeys might tame traffic. At bird feeders, find a party of jays, a descent of woodpeckers, a charm of hummingbirds, or a host of sparrows. During daylight hours look to the sky for a kettle of hawks, a cast of falcons, a convocation of eagles, or a charm of finches. Around our ponds, focus your binoculars on a siege of herons, a badelynge of ducks, a flush of mallards, or a bevy of swans. By night you might hear a parliament of owls. So much to see, hear, and keep track of!

Our waters hold congregating crowds too. Swimmers may think they are just out for a day at the beach, but beware of the wonders of the deep. A smack of jellyfish, a pod of dolphins, or a shiver of sharks might be keeping bathers company.

Wildlife congregate for safety and security, of course, but that doesn’t tell us why Islanders do. Vineyarders find strength in numbers, but perhaps for different reasons.

The great crowds of folks who join us on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer could easily find their own clusters. One-time guests would be a detonation of day-trippers. Depending on your perspective, those who grace our shores might be considered a terror of tourists, a tide of wash-ashores, or a victory of visitors. The masses might succumb to a beckoning of beacons (i.e., lighthouses) or simply become a band on the beaches. At night on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, look for a mingle of singles, a batch of bachelors, or a make-up of maidens. A bustle of shoppers always makes the business-district folks smile.

No matter how you do it, find your friends – and give them a name. Solidarity helps us all. So whether you’re here for a week or for every day of your life, keep in mind the ubiquitous bumper sticker that bring us all together as one: Vineyarders.