From past Gazette spring editorials:
Fog is our closest companion in these early days of spring when the air is warm and the water still cold. Fog conceals a message in the mist and in the tapestry it weaves. It tells us spring is trying to burst the barriers of these cloudy banks, that the season is struggling to slip in edgewise. And the barriers will burst in time.
We think sometimes of those who live in sunny, dry climates and wonder of their lives without fog. It is both a friend and a mystery. Without fog, writers and poets would be much the poorer. Fog travels the Vineyard in many different ways and it seems to come from anywhere, or nowhere in particular that we can distinguish.
It idles and eddies over the Island. It moves across our landscape in no form at all and then retreats into distinct cloud banks, clearly defined by blue sky above and the glitter of water beneath. You may also choose your own description of Island fog in any season. Fog is an element and a part of nature’s most poetic expression.
Fog hides behind its mystique. Vineyarders talk about it, never in the same way. Fog closes in, it rolls and swirls, it mists and drips from every spile on the Island. Fog is any color, from the pastel shadings of pink to pea soup to Quaker gray.
Our fogs on the Vineyard, and these past days prove the point, form their own landscape, one that bears little resemblance to the way the Island looks when clear of this fellow traveler, this never distant companion by the sea. Fog fools the eye. It distorts and exaggerates the landscape. Small trees loom large, hedgerows along the rolling moors of up-Island turn to great walls and the smallest of shacks pass for country manors.
And all the Island sounds, they also fall prey to the tricks of fog. Sounds are muffled, softer, somehow strange when carried across the shrouded aisles of distance. Listen to the solemn tolling of lighthouse bells, the ringing of buoys, the uneasy warning of foghorns, haunting in its drone of caution.
We are impatient for the spring fog to clear, but when it does we will miss the wonder and the mystique of its misty mission and will welcome its return, a certainty when living on the Vineyard by seaside.
Perhaps the most precious piece of property on the entire Vineyard is the State Forest. It is a protected 4,000 acre reservation. It lies at the center of the Island, at the heart of this community. It is the Island’s heart. The State Forest shields our only source of drinking water, our single aquifer. It is a treasured island within this Island, a supreme symbol of conservation, a pocket of sanity in a time of rampaging development that threatens the character of the Vineyard.
But as much as the State Forest protects our environment and often our own destructive nature, it also needs protection. For 57 years, first as a worker and later as superintendent of the State Forest, Manuel F. (Manny) Correllus provided that protection. But Manny retired in March and left his home on the reservation even earlier. The state knew long before Mr. Correllus retired that there was urgent need to replace him.
Now there are reports, some expressed in a letter elsewhere on this page, of trash piling up, of private access roads cut into the State Forest and even of discarded appliances, a major source of water contamination. The state’s failure to act is inexcusable, unacceptable and a poor farewell salute to the more than half century of loving supervision Mr. Correllus devoted to the State Forest.
Vineyarders spend a lot of time worrying about Vineyard problems, agonizing about the future, analyzing themselves and their communities, fighting about it, and finally wondering if the Island’s burden is so heavy, special and unique that there are no solutions after all. That may be a recipe for disaster, or at least paralysis. And if that is too strong, the Vineyard’s preoccupation with itself, sometimes more than the circumstances can bear, is enough to divert Island attention away from solutions being tried in other communities faced with similar problems.
The crisis of rampant and unchecked growth is a case in point. So also is the issue of affordable housing. These and so many other points of pressure raise one central question: does the Vineyard, or any community, have the right to protect its most precious resources, clean air and pure water, for example? Other communities, many in more serious trouble than the Vineyard, believe they have the right to protect the future against destructive development forces. And while the Vineyard sometimes fights and fusses and loses its way in soaring political rhetoric, other communities are at least reaching for answers, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
The Vineyard needs less battle, more unity and an occasional outside look at what other communities with similar problems are doing, other than fussing the future away.
Compiled by Alison L. Mead