From the Editor

Someone apparently forgot to tell the titmice about social distancing. They are cheek by jowl at the feeder like morning anglers at the Dock Street diner at Derby time. The finches, too, all yellowed up and proud for the summer, are apparently unruffled by the turmoil engulfing the world of the wingless. The poor wingless, who cannot fly away and so plod down to SBS wondering how many other wingless may have – GASP! – touched the bag of meaty sunflower seeds between whenever the sunflowers, rooted in their fields, were turning their faces toward the sun for a season and today. The poor wingless and rootless, masked and gloved and wondering, perhaps for the first time ever, if somewhere along the way their species might have been better off trading some cleverness for feathers. Or bartering some grasping ambition for ever more of everything for the simple satisfaction of a season in the sun.

Not that birds, too, don’t occasionally go full speed toward openings in life that they are certain are a portal leading to prosperity and happiness, only to hit the glass and find themselves, if they are lucky, flat on the deck thinking, “Shit, I hope this is cyclical.” I heard a tremendous crash not long ago and found a bird on the ground beside my house. Dead, as wingless and rootless now as any of the rest of us. It was a flicker, a large thing of crazy beauty, and I carried it down to the edge of the woods near to where a long time ago we buried the best dog known to history.

I found myself sad for the bird and the dog, of course, but also strangely grateful for the opportunity to witness up close something so spectacular, and to be a part of its transition into whatever flickers become when life moves on without them.

It is an irony of life that one of the principal human reactions to the seemingly unending supply of woe and misery that the world can throw down is gratitude. It’s a theme as old as Job and Socrates, Buddha and Confucius, and as new as CAT scans and evolutionary psychology. Gratefulness, it turns out, may be one of the things we picked up around the time we stopped dragging our knuckles on the savannah, or even earlier.

On the Vineyard, a spirit of thankfulness has bubbled and gurgled through the past few months like the sourdough starter that everyone seems to suddenly have begun growing in their kitchens. Oh, sure, there have been plenty of loud and sour voices of fear and loathing in the usual arenas where the bitter gather to proclaim their own purity and trade misinformation and blame. But in between the squawks and howls can be heard a steady underlying harmony of everyday people thanking other everyday people for simply showing up. To sell groceries or pump gas. To keep the hospital and post office going. To figure out how to keep their enterprises alive even while closed so they can keep their employees employed. To plant their farms. Or fix your tires. Or sell you birdseed.

Once again we are celebrating the annual Best of the Vineyard awards. And more than ever we at Martha’s Vineyard Magazine are filled with gratitude to be a part of the community of small businesses and big hearts that make this other Eden the envy of less happier lands.