Summertime on the Vineyard is a special time in this special place. Yet sometimes we let ourselves be distracted by all the other people who have come here to appreciate the Island. The traffic and crowds, the too-too conspicuous consumption and, above all, the crazy questions we get asked. Sometimes we forget just how special this place is.
I spent last week in Nancy Aronie’s Chilmark Writing Workshop and got back in touch with the Island, with myself and with someone whom I’d met in a workshop a couple of years ago.
Nancy’s workshop operates on a simple premise: trust. She makes her sacred circle safe so that trust can build upon it. We trust our fellow workshop writers with our innermost secrets, our most intimate truths. We write from the heart on topics like, “My mother never told me…” “What I meant to say was…” and “Where does it hurt?” Like magic, like love, like butter melting on warm bread fresh from the oven. It flows from us in the presence of Nancy, her irreverent wit and her warm and gentle spirit, coaxing us to share with through own shared intimacies, usually accompanied by hurricanes of laughter. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always from the heart.
Joyce Wagner is a freelance writer currently finishing an historic novel set in New York and France during World War II. She was recently published on Salon. And she was part of Nancy’s workshop last week. She shared with the group this short piece about how special the Vineyard is to her, and she gave me her permission to publish it here.
Nancy’s writing prompt for this assignment was “Sunday Morning.” I think you’ll see why I wanted to share it with you. Thanks, Joyce, for this reminder. Sometimes we forget how special Martha’s Vineyard is.
On Sunday Morning
by Joyce Wagner
On Sunday morning, I’ll wake up in New Hampshire. If I’m very good, I’ll rise early and write until noon. After a week on the Island, I need to resume my practice, get back to my routine.
But I’ll be in New Hampshire. The woods surrounding my house will just be trees. My lilies will be in bloom, but they’re not rosa rugosa and their feet won’t sit in sand.
My tomatoes will preach in orangey red from across the yard. The heirlooms, the old parishioners, will chant their quiet amens in darker skins. I’ve looked forward to biting into my vegetable bounty since planting on the prescribed Memorial Day weekend, but now I think it will lose its luster without sea air.
After writing, I’ll shower in a sterile, tiled bathroom where the sun slants in from two low windows instead of from overhead.
Then maybe I’ll hike. The path behind our house will crunch softly under my feet, but will lack the aroma of sweet fern.
On Sunday afternoon, perhaps I’ll drive and drive and drive to replenish groceries at a reasonable price at a too-big store.
Or maybe I’ll spend the afternoon with friends who will ask, out of obligation, what’s new with the novel, but we won’t have those conversations – the Island discussions about the problems of finding the right agent and whether rejection letters should be displayed or burned. We’ll talk about football and gardens and putting the harvest up and nothing that touches the heart.
But I’ll be with my husband, the one who keeps me grounded in my too flighty world. The one who tugs me just enough to a safe altitude when the wax begins to glisten on my wings. The one who teaches children to make music and honor themselves.
When I awake on Sunday morning, I will have left my home for my house, my community for my neighborhood, my life for my existence.
On Sunday morning, I will wake up with the man I love in the place I hate.
Joyce Wagner is a free-lance writer, teacher, and editor. She is married to the venerable Mr. Holland and enjoys dual citizenship on Martha's Vineyard and Cardigan Mountain.