Gone wild for blueberries

I realise I out up the post “it was just what we did” with no actual post. Oops. Epic Fail on the multitasking on holiday.  

So what did we do? My kids and their friends picked wild blueberries from the bushes around our summer house and made a blueberry pie from scratch with them. Technically lots of them were huckleberries (smaller than blueberries) but why be persnickety?  It was delicious. 

It was good wholesome fun. I felt very Martha Stewart meets The Brady Bunch.  

There are wild berries and beach plums everywhere on Martha’s Vineyard.  You’d think it would be grapes but no.  Beach plums are an acquired taste and make better preserves than pies. 

  
 

It’s Morning Glory in Edgartown Anytime

Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown is a bit of an institution on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.  Although billed as a humble farm stand, Morning Glory has the reputation and faithful clientele that would make any high-end gourmet food store proud.

Morning Glory farm farm stand
The barn/farm stand

The farm was started in 1975 on land owned by the Athearn family who have lived on the Vineyard since the 19th century.  Starting off with a farm stand, by 2010 business was thriving enough that a newly-built barn replaced the original structure.  They farm over 120 acres over several sites on the island.  The farm produces a wide variety of crops, herbs and cut flowers.

Morning Glory flowers
Rustic chic flowers

We are lucky we live near Morning Glory Farm and stop by the farm stand often.  I am in the habit of getting their ice tea and a muffin for breakfast after I drop my children off at horse-riding camp nearby. My favourite are the corn muffins followed closely by the peach muffins (in case you are wondering).

Martha’s Vineyard is such a small island that the farm where my children take their riding lessons is located near some of the Athearn family land in West Tisbury.  The horse farm sends off its manure to fertilise the Morning Glory farm crops.

The farm stand’s zucchini bread is deservedly famous for being delicious.  You can find the zucchini bread recipe here at Cape Cod Magazine if you feel inclined to try it out.  I heard grumbling in line in front of me the other day when one woman was complaining to another that the zucchini bread was not as good as it used to be.  Definitely, first world problems.

Morning Glory farm stand
Branded merchandise and books

I thought the best way to introduce Morning Glory Farm to you was with a vlog. It’ll give you a short tour of the farm stand and all the delicious products inside.

Morning Glory Farm is located on the corner of Meshacket Road and the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.  It is open 7 days a week.

Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard sells the best farm fresh produce on the island

Road Trip USA: Martha’s Vineyard

NYLon Living

When many people think of Martha’s Vineyard, they automatically think of it as a celebrity vacation spot.  Yes, lots of rich and famous people spend their summer vacation here, among them the Obamas.  The Vineyard, however, is so much more than the occasional celebrity that passes through.

My children love their summers in the Vineyard.  They are outdoors and active all the time — biking, hiking, swimming, body boarding, kayaking, fishing, playing tennis etc.  On the beach, they love collecting shells, searching for moon jellies, building sand castles, digging tunnels and skipping stones.  The farms provide edutainment such as horseback riding and  berry picking.  Unlike our London house, our Vineyard home has a large yard where they can play with water guns, skipping ropes etc.

Every year, our house is full of friends and family who come to visit.  Living abroad for so long, we spend summers catching up with…

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A Home for Hansel & Gretel

NYLon Living

Ever wanted to live in a gingerbread house?  The Cottage City neighbourhood in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard gives you an entire gingerbread neighbourhood.  Hansel & Gretel wouldn’t have known where to start.

cottage city porch

Cottage City dates back to the 19th century when Methodists gathered together each summer for religious meetings.  After the first meeting in 1835, the same families would return each year and pitch their tents.  Eventually by the 1870’s, the tents gave way to little cottages packed in together around a central wooden structure, The Tabernacle, which held community events.

tabernacle sign

The cottages were not only decorated with elaborate scrollwork, porches etc but also were brightly painted.   This architectural style, called “Carpenter’s Gothic”, makes the houses look like something out of a fairy tale.

cottage city

Added to the sensory overload, are the profusion of colourful flowers spilling out of window boxes, hanging baskets and gardens.   And, let’s not forget…

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Homes Fit for Hansel and Gretel on Martha’s Vineyard

Ever wanted to live in a gingerbread house?  The Cottage City neighbourhood in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard gives you an entire gingerbread neighbourhood.  Hansel & Gretel wouldn’t have known where to start.

cottage city porch

Cottage City dates back to the 19th century when Methodists gathered together each summer for religious meetings.  After the first meeting in 1835, the same families would return each year and pitch their tents.  Eventually by the 1870’s, the tents gave way to little cottages packed in together around a central wooden structure, The Tabernacle, which held community events.

tabernacle sign

The cottages were not only decorated with elaborate scrollwork, porches etc but also were brightly painted.   This architectural style, called “Carpenter’s Gothic”, makes the houses look like something out of a fairy tale.

cottage city

Added to the sensory overload, are the profusion of colourful flowers spilling out of window boxes, hanging baskets and gardens.   And, let’s not forget all the adornments around the houses – seashells, wind chimes, signs, garden gnomes etc.  One house even has a miniature dollhouse replica of itself set out on its porch.  A minimalist would probably have a fit of the vapors within 5 minutes of entering the neighbourhood.

Around 300 cottages have survived to the present.  In 2005, the grounds and buildings were named a National Historic Landmark which will help preserve them for years to come.  Many cottages have been owned by the same family for generations.  They do come up occasionally for sale or rent. The prices are exorbitant considering the cottages are minuscule.  So, what price history you ask?  Apparently, averaging about $2000/week.

flowers

Cottage City, however, never feels like a museum.  The residents sit on their porches and their children play in the gardens.  I’d find it difficult to be constantly gawked at but they seem to take it in their stride.

drinks on the porch

Cottage City has its own summer event in August, Grand Illumination Night, when the residents hang brightly coloured Chinese and Japanese lanterns from their porches.  This event started over a 100 years ago as a way to mark the visit of the Governor of Massachusetts.  It became more popular every year thereafter.  Initially, the Cottage City residents disliked this secular event which didn’t jive with their conservative religious tendencies.

photo:  MVCMA
photo: MVCMA

Prior to the lanterns being turned on in unison in the dark, people hang around eating and drinking.  The residents are lucky to have porches on which to sit while visitors bring picnic blankets.

pre-lighting lanterns

The variety of lanterns is amazing – old, new, floral, patriotic etc.   The lanterns are up for the night only and get returned to storage the next day.  One homeowner told us packing and unpacking her lanterns took 3 days.  We had a lot of fun spotting new and different lanterns.  Of the hundreds of lanterns, I did not see one repeat!  Some of the lanterns are incredibly fragile because, traditionally, the lanterns were included in a house sale.

The Vineyard Haven band plays old favourites for the crowd before and during Illumination Night.  Our children sang to the songs for The Sound of Music even though they were really tired and way past their bedtime.

choir

The Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association also run a small museum on the grounds which is very informative.

My children loved Illumination Night.  They got to stay up past bedtime and made a game of who could spot the next cool lantern.  The event is crowded but very family friendly.  Even without Illumination Night, I think Cottage City is worth seeing.  It’s a testament to a bygone way of life of prayer meetings, community sing-alongs and leisurely chats with your neighbours on the porch.

Road Trip USA: Martha’s Vineyard

When many people think of Martha’s Vineyard, they automatically think of it as a celebrity vacation spot.  Yes, lots of rich and famous people spend their summer vacation here, among them the Obamas.  The Vineyard, however, is so much more than the occasional celebrity that passes through.

Edgartown harbor fisheye lens
Edgartown harbor fisheye lens

My children love their summers in the Vineyard.  They are outdoors and active all the time — biking, hiking, swimming, body boarding, kayaking, fishing, playing tennis etc.  On the beach, they love collecting shells, searching for moon jellies, building sand castles, digging tunnels and skipping stones.  The farms provide edutainment such as horseback riding and  berry picking.  Unlike our London house, our Vineyard home has a large yard where they can play with water guns, skipping ropes etc.

collecting shells
collecting shells

Every year, our house is full of friends and family who come to visit.  Living abroad for so long, we spend summers catching up with our American friends.  Renowned American broadcaster, Mike Wallace sums it up for me:

“Even as I talk, I can see it and smell it and feel it.  It’s a special, insular, quiet, healing, glorious place.  And year after year after year, you not only see your kids and your grandchildren grow, but you see everybody else’s kids, the same people, grow.  There is a strange continuity to life in the Vineyard.”

I love the feeling that nothing really changes on the Vineyard.  It’s a comfortable feeling to return here every summer, like slipping into a worn sweatshirt.  Life in the real world is unpredictable — our summers, thankfully, aren’t.

family in a canoe
family in a canoe

Full-time residents work hard to make sure that change is kept to the minimum.  The island has no chain stores, no malls and no traffic lights.  Many people still grumble about a rotary (roundabout) installed last year.  I feel occasionally that I have stepped back into 1950’s America – a kinder, gentler place where people cycle to the shops, roads are not congested, houses and cars are left unlocked and America is sure of its place in the world.  Although my children think I am ‘ancient’, I am not actually old enough to have experienced the 1950’s.   I expect this carefully maintained sense of nostalgia is probably as artificial as a Disney theme park.

Edgartown Main Street
Edgartown Main Street

I know the continuity in lifestyle can be frustrating for the younger Islanders – my babysitter grew up on the Island and finds it beyond boring.  She admits, though, that she will probably bring her children back for the idyllic summers.

The Vineyard is able to maintain itself apart from the mainland because you can only get on the island by air or by ferry.  In the summer, flights and ferries get booked up quickly.  If you want to bring a car onto the island, you need to plan well in advance.

Steamship Authority ferry
Steamship Authority ferry

For an idyllic reality-show version of Vineyard life, check out ABC Family’s reality show, The Vineyard.  The show follows a group of attractive, straight-from- Abercrombie-casting, college students working at the ubiquitous Black Dog stores and food establishments.  The show, itself, is fairly standard, somewhat anodyne, reality-fare (the tangled love lives of the participants).  The scenery, however, is spectacular.

Menemsha Harbour
Menemsha Harbour

Islanders are used to the occasional celebrity sighting.  The rich and famous seem to mingle into the crowd.  We were standing in line behind the Obama girls in this tiny over-crowded ice cream store three years ago.  The Secret Service agents, who were getting restless, asked at the counter if the girls could jump the queue.  We were astounded when they were politely refused.  The servers later told us that they have seen a number of famous people and no one gets special service.

sailboats

The Vineyard is also one of the most racially integrated places in the United States.  Historically, the Island has welcomed African-Americans both as land-owners and vacationers dating back to pre-Revolutionary times.  Check out this New York Times article New York Times for a brief review.   I like that my rainbow family fits right in.

jumping off a boat
jumping off a boat

Like many other families, our family comes to the Vineyard for sunshine, rest and relaxation.  As a child, I remember feeling summer was endless.  Each lazy, hot day of messing around with my friends and cousins merged into another.  I hope my children have the same feeling about their summers.  It’s nice to feel that the more things change, the more the stay the same.