Our Staff & Contributors Share Their Favorite Vineyard Flora and Fauna

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Wineberries! I discovered wineberries back in late July 2006, during the early years of Island Grown Initiative. I saw this hairy, burgundy, tall multi-cane stalk in the background, and was intrigued. Their flavor — similar to a raspberry, but a little bit tarter and a little bit juicier — is delightful. The following year I uprooted a dozen canes or more from a friend’s dirt road and planted them. I look forward to their sweet, sour taste and slightly sticky, viscous texture every July. I have never seen them anywhere else in my travels.” Randi Baird (photographer, “Kelp,”)

“Forget your pinkletinks and robins; nothing says spring to me like those first showy shadbush blossoms lighting up the woodlands. I even gave a shadbush to my wife for her birthday one year.” Geoff Currier (writer, “Cruising with Currier,” “No Nukes”)

“I now love the lowly shadbush, otherwise known as serviceberry! After reading that this native bush that is so important for the birds and bees is now in short supply in many backyards, I recently planted a bunch!” Laurie David (excerpt from Imagine It!, and Geoff Currier’s “Cruisin” partner)

“I love rambles daily with Stevie, my 10-pound mutt. While Stevie enjoys chasing deer, squirrels, rabbits, and the occasional osprey, I appreciate the never-ending change — oak trees masting, purple mushrooms pushing up, the brilliant appearance of a lady-slipper.” Mollie Doyle (Bluedot contributing editor and writer “Right at Home with the Robinsons,” “Room for Change”)

“Deer come into our yard from time to time, and it’s as though creatures from another world are paying us a visit. Their beauty and grace are magical.” Jeremy Driesen (photographer “Cruising,” “Carbon,” “Robinsons”)

“My favorite for July — the saltmarsh sparrow; they nest in the grasses in salt marshes, and manage to hatch and raise their chicks with the tides flooding just below their nests. If you are patient and quiet, you might see this little sparrow with orange markings on its face peer out from a clump of spartina before it flies low across the marsh in search of insects, or hear one singing its buzzy song from a tall clump of grass, or an old fence post in the marsh.” Luanne Johnson (Wildlife biologist “Field Notes”)

“Go terns! Their pure white quickness. The clear angles of their wings and beak and tail. Watching them glide so effortlessly over the water. Their cry.” Fae Kontje-Gibbs (illustrator,Citizen Science”)

“Tree swallows are a favorite presence on the Vineyard. The flash of their glossy blue backs as they fly aerial encounters, and the sight of scruffy fledglings near a nest box in summer are signs of their tenacity, and often of thoughtful stewardship from the people who build and maintain places for the birds to nest.” Sam Moore (Writer and photographer, “Farley Built a Small House,” “M.V. Atlas of Life”)

“Some of my favorite Vineyard memories are of rowing on the Tisbury Great Pond at night and watching the paddles churn up bioluminescence. So I have to give a shout-out to the little dinoflagellates that make those light shows possible!” Kelsey Perrett (writer, “Citizen Science”)

“My favorite animal on the Island is the turkey. I love watching the look on people’s faces as they wait for them to cross a busy thoroughfare. Turkeys also love to eat ticks, which is a plus in my book!” Lucas Thors (writer, “Local Heroes”)

“Look for the edible wild fruit autumn olives in the fall. It’s a tart-sweet red berry (nothing related to olives) with telltale tiny white spots. Kids love them, and they make a beautiful Vineyard cordial.” Catherine Walthers (writer, “Kelp”)

“No surprise: the dogs of MV” Barbara Davis, proofreader

“Deer, without question.  A doe and tiny fawn were standing on our driveway entrance when we brought guests home from the airport last week. It was pure magic.” Irene Ziebarth, proofreader

“My favorite critter on MV is a horse named Nettie. She lives at White Stone Equestrian in West Tisbury where nearly every morning I walk her out to her paddock. On our walk together, if I am feeling anxious or happy I sing to her, other days I just talk to her, I’ve told her all about Bluedot Living magazine.” Nicole Jackson, production

“There are so many birds I love where I live on Farm Pond, but for now, I’ll choose the River Otter who scampers across the street and frolics in the pond, delighting us all when we see him or her, maybe once a year.” Jamie Kageleiry, co-editor

“Whales. I grew up on one of the Great Lakes so the ocean seems both familiar and mysterious to me. Admittedly, I’ve never seen a whale when I’ve been on the Vineyard (though, as a newcomer, I hold out hope it will happen) but I am awed just knowing these leviathans are moving through the same waters that surround me.” Leslie Garrett (co-editor, writer, “What’s So Bad about Carbon”) 

“The firefly. Makes every night magical.” Tara Kenny, creative director

“I love terns. I admired them as a child growing up in Iceland.” Kristofer Rabasca, art director

“Growing up in the hollers of East Tennessee, summer meant ice cold watermelon, tomatoes big enough to have surnames, and, once the late afternoon thunderstorms headed off to their homes presumably in Virginia and the skies began to darken on their own terms, it meant woods that would come alive with the determined winking of lightning bugs. Here, I’m told, they’re called fireflies, and a pair of them down by Watcha Pond brought back a raft of childhood memories.” Walt McGraw, co-founder

“As a one-time city girl, I never knew the “little joys” of nature. The milkweed just beyond my driveway was covered over with a dirt pile so I cleared it away and cordoned off the area. An explosion of milkweed plants, waiting for the butterflies.” Victoria Riskin, co-founder

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Bluedot Living
Bluedot Living magazine is published quarterly (three times in 2021) by The Martha’s Vineyard Times, publishers of The Martha’s Vineyard Times weekly newspaper, Martha’s Vineyard Arts & Ideas Magazine, Edible Vineyard Magazine, The Local, The Minute daily newsletter, Vineyard Visitor, & the websites MVTimes.com, VineyardVisitor.com, & MVArtsandIdeas.com.

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