Martha’s Vineyard

When the mile high sheets of ice from the recent ice age melted about 18,000 years ago, they left behind piles of rock and dirt that they had scraped and pushed along and pressed down upon. The furthest of these are called the terminal moraines, which Evan fondly calls “terminal morons”. The island of Martha’s Vineyard, separated by about five miles of sea from Cape Cod, is one of these glacial terminal moraines. In geological terms, the island is a newborn. The oldest rocks ever found on earth are almost four and half billion years old by comparison. Martha’s Vineyard was formed after humans first migrated from Asia to the Americas across the glacial ice bridges over what is today the Bering sea. Eventually the descendants of those early people settled the island. They are the Wampanoags. Then 420 years ago an English explorer “found” the island and named it after his mother-in-law or his daughter (apparently were both Martha). Here is a photo of the end of the terminal moraines near the Gay Head lighthouse (that’s the real name) at the south western end of the island on a foggy afternoon.

Our trip to Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t what we had planned. Michelle and Jo couldn’t make it, both taking care of urgent family matters. So it was Alu and me the the kids in a beautiful six bedroom Victorian in Oak Bluffs. We spread out over the house and its immaculate grounds and I let the kids sleep in and go crazy on their devices. Some days I didn’t see them till late afternoon. Martha’s Vineyard and particularly the town of Oak Bluffs isn’t like Austin. Black kids flew kites in the parks alongside white families. Black men and women sunbathed on the beaches and rode bicycles and rocked on porches that wrapped around beachside bungalows. The house we stayed at may have been owned by a Black family – the beautiful art on the walls depicted Blacks. The strange thing about all this is that we noticed it right away. It is different from “normal”. When people say that American history and identity is one in which whiteness is normalized, this is what they mean.

When I did see the kids once a while we walked a lot of beaches and played a short game of 2 v 2 soccer and ate ice cream and oohed and aahed at the island’s lovely homes and gardens and made good memories. One afternoon we left the perfectly sunny town of Oak Bluffs and by the time we arrived at Katama beach on the southern end of the island 15 minutes later, we were engulfed in fog. The breakers crashed on the beach but we couldn’t see them rolling in. Evan and Vivian found it a bit eerie but they chased each other around in the fog.

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