It’s been a while!
Last night was Illumination here in the campground. All the adorable houses, the Little Pink House included, got decked out with paper lanterns and at dark, they all got lit up. Colorful, magical and cute, the neighborhood reminded me of something out of the ‘It’s a Small World‘ ride at Disney World – my personal favorite growing up.
A 2007 article in the Martha’s Vineyard Times recalls the first ever Illumination:
It was on Saturday evening, August 14, 1869, in the midst of this bustle that the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company sponsored the first Illumination Night. The Vineyard Gazette reported the events, “The illumination and fireworks at ‘Oak Bluffs,’ on Saturday evening last, was a very fine affair. Chinese and Japanese lanterns were displayed in abundance, suspended from cottages and trees. There was a good variety in the pieces at the fireworks. The Foxboro Brass Band, brought here by the liberality of E.P. Carpenter, Esq., of Foxboro, discoursed fine music for the occasion. Several thousands of people of both sexes were out to see and hear.” The initial festivity was called Governor’s Day in honor of Governor William Claflin who was on hand for the fete. Over the ensuing years, the Gazette referred to the annual event as the “Illumination,” and the identification remains to this day.
Today, the night is a celebration of the end of the summer, that in my opinion is sneaking up on me WAY too quickly. Kevin, my cousin Eric, his girlfriend Christianna and I decorated the house with lanterns (like one I painted when I was five bearing my tiny hand print and what I think are pictures of a sailboat and a dragon), string lights and pink luminary bags with cutout hearts.
The four of us, plus my co-intern Tim, sat on the porch eating, drinking and being merry, rocking some pretty fabulous t-shirts with a photo of the house on it and flashing finger bling, compliments of Nana.
The Cape Cod Times article published today put it just right. “Either way, as a soft rain fell on the neighborhood, the lanterns glowed in pastel glory,” the article stated. “For a couple of hours, they turned these tiny gingerbread cottages into a wonderland of light. Then, they were extinguished and put away for next year.”
America is stressed out.
According to survey results published in February by the American Psychological Association, more than half of working adults and 47 percent of all Americans say they are concerned with the amount of stress in their lives. That’s a lot of stress.
Recently, Dr Robert Sapolsky, a neuroscience professor at Stanford, has been making headlines publishing research he said could lead to a vaccine somewhere down the line that would cure stress, according to a CBS News report.
If work and your busy life have got you pulling out your hair, and you’re not interested in this sci-fi sounding cure, try a more down-to-Earth approach. Yoga has been around since before 3000 B.C. and is a tried and true natural form of stress relief – and there’s certainly no lack of classes to choose from on Martha’s Vineyard.
“Doing yoga we stretch everything out, open everything up and let everything return to it’s natural alignment,” said Fae Kontje-Gibbs, who has been teaching yoga since 1999.
Kontje-Gibbs lives on the island year-round and teaches are very unique and refreshing class at the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven four times a week.
I found myself at the Mansion House one morning at 6:15 for Sunrise Yoga, stretching and bending my body doing Sun Salutations (a typical yoga sequence), at the closest venue to the sun on the island- the rooftop at the Mansion House overlooking the Vineyard Haven harbor.
I’m not typically used to waking up in the dark, but Sunrise Yoga may have just converted me to a morning person. The morning was picturesque with a light pink sunrise peeking through thin strips of cirrus clouds, beckoning me to let go of any of the stress from the past few days.
Yoga has a number of benefits in general, but yoga in the morning is particularly beneficial to the mind and body.
“The great thing about doing morning yoga is it’s like booting up a computer in a way,” Kontje-Gibbs said. “It’s just that setup for stretching everything out after you’ve been sleeping and getting your energy going and helping people be aware so that as they move into the day they move in with a centered awareness.”
I can attest to that. Not only was I able to get more done that day because I had been awake longer than usual, but I was able to focus on my tasks much more efficiently.
The yoga Kontje-Gibbs teaches at this particular class is very therapeutic and is suitable for people with any level of yoga experience, including no experience at all. She focuses on deep breathing and breathing awareness, as well as moves that align the body and correct imbalances from daily stressors, like sitting at a desk.
“Our breath is the fuel for all of the energy in the body,” Kontj-Gibbs said. “The more we breathe and the more we use our lungs, not just to take in oxygen but also to get rid of old stale air, the more energy we have.”
With that much energy, the island’s best activities will be yours for the conquering. For a full schedule of yoga classes on Martha’s Vineyard, visit http://www.marthasvineyardyoga.com/.
Sunrise Yoga at the Mansion House
9 Main Street, Vineyard Haven
Wednesday and Friday at 6:15 a.m.
For anyone not on Martha’s Vineyard or not interested in going to a yoga studio or gym, ABC-of-Yoga is a really great site to get started with the practice of yoga from home. A fun little animated man shows you exactly how to do some of the more popular yoga poses. You’ll be feeling stress-free in no time!
[Photos by Tim Leinhart.]
People on Martha’s Vineyard are really great. Saturday, upon my long awaited return to the Little Pink House, I found I didn’t have my key to get in. Remembering that Nana had told me a man up the street has a spare, I sighed a sigh of relief thinking how great it is to have such nice neighbors. Turns out, this guy would be off-island for the rest of the week. AH! So what did I do? Cry? Stomp my feet and pout a little? Stomp one foot and pout a lot (like a certain girl who might be named Meaghan Griffin does when she’s upset)? I will admit, I was pretty close to doing all those things, but I didn’t have to!
Enter the best neighbors and their visitors ever. Two men got a ladder, another a butter knife, and what ensued was a little like Ocean’s Eleven. At one point there were three men, one in his eighties, standing on my roof pondering the break-in logistics. After a couple minutes, there were onlookers staring up at the roof, silently cheering on my saviors.
Don’t get any ideas. This brought some unexpected entertainment to my afternoon, and to the quietest, most pleasant neighborhood I’ve ever seen. I feel like this would only happen on a street of brightly painted gingerbread houses with people two generations older than myself. Isn’t it nice to have neighbors? Cue Mr. Rogers…
My life is really hard. I spent last week hopping from one paradise island to THE Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I’ll call it my vacation from vacation. What I took away from the trip: If you were able to move the crystal blue and very warm ocean from the Bahamas to surround Martha’s Vineyard, you would have created a place as holy as Mecca.
Here’s a rundown of my vacation:
Brittany and Chelsey Corsetti are twin sisters from Connecticut who are whisked away to Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas by their parents for winter break. Initially, the sisters are disappointed that they didn’t get to go to Hawaii with their friends, but overcome it by enjoying their newly-earned freedom in the form of their own suite, as well as the pristine beaches of the Caribbean. Brittany falls for “hottie” Jordan, a worker at the resort. She’s not the only one with her eye on Jordan – the spoiled heiress Meredith Gebel is also after him, and plays dirty to get her way. The other Chelsea, meanwhile, is being wooed by cute, but brainless, Scott, who in turn is being coached behind the scenes by Griffen, a childhood friend of Meredith’s with a not-so-subtle crush, to talk to Chelsea and eventually get her under his thumb. The sisters’ holiday of fun in the sun is interrupted when they cross paths with a man smuggling stolen artifacts. Though their parents are keeping a close eye on them, the sisters and Griffen must find a way to clear Jordan’s name when their friend is wrongfully arrested for the crime. Together, they overcome everything and understand the true meaning of sisterhood, along with having a great vacation.
If you believed that story then I feel really bad for you for you in general, but especially for not spending your preteen years as an avid Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen marathon watcher. So what if I stole that description directly from the “Holiday in the Sun” Wikipedia page and inserted my friends’ names? So. What.
In summary, here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip, none of which I deserve credit for.
Last night, I got the chance to go out and report on my most exciting assignment for This Week thus far. I jumped at the opportunity to write about Island Spirit Kayak, thinking “Hey, I like kayaking, why not?” I figured I’d just be paddling around one of the salt water lakes on the island for an hour or something, but I never imagined I would get out of it what I did last night during my sunset kayak tour.
My night began by driving to Vineyard Haven to a boat launch at Lake Tashmoo where I met up with my guide, Jessie, who was really energetic and fun, and the rest of the group. I was instructed how to use a ruddered kayak with foot pedals to help turn, which made navigating much easier than in other kayaks I’ve been in. We paddled around the lake, passing by an Osprey nest that had two baby birds in it. Although we weren’t really that close, and the nest is up really high, Mamma Osprey was not pleased and was squawking at us, so we moved on.
We paddled under a dock and to these big cages in the lake that Jessie told us were for bay scallop spawning. Since shellfishing is many islanders’ bread and butter, the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group works to maintain the population of these creatures.
As the sunset was nearing, it was time to cross the channel dividing Lake Tashmoo from the Vineyard Sound. We were instructed to stay toward the right side of the channel, near the jetty, where the current wasn’t as strong. A couple who was on the trip decided they were going to go up the middle of the channel, and it was really hilarious watching them flail around in their tandem kayak as I nonchalantly paddled my way up the proper side of the channel, into the Vineyard Sound and onto Tashmoo beach. This is the same beach I blogged about taking Kevin to- the one that requires you to drive down a ridiculous dirt road. Getting there by boat was so much better! We drank champagne on the beach while watching the sunset, and although it was amazing and everyone I have met on Martha’s Vineyard has been really friendly, this is something I would enjoy so much more with all my wonderful friends (Save up $65 and come take the tour with me in August, anyone?).
After the sun had completely set, we all put on glow stick bracelets for the paddle back. I was a little nervous about the idea of being in a kayak in the dark, but once I was out on the water, it was absolutely amazing. My spidey-vision kicked in and it was just me, my boat, and the stars. I felt so in control, so relaxed, and so free as my oars cut through the water, setting off glowing bursts from phosphorescent algae in my path.