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Oaks Framing Road

Assembling this volume has brought many pleasures. Foremost is the joy of discovery in walking, riding, and kayaking Island lands and waters and encountering new sights, uncovering leads in answering old questions, and appreciating the thoughtful care of the land I passed by many owners. There is no end of special places on the Vineyard—each one more intriguing than the last—and I owe much to the many people who have generously, and just as frequently unknowingly, opened the Island to me.

The strange rush of excitement that comes with intellectual discovery is a second joy, and one that appeared as often in musty basements, archives, and repositories of history as under open air.  While many institutions have provided key resources, the most welcoming and illuminating experiences have come at the Vineyard Gazette with its eclectic archive and embracing staff, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, the libraries in Vineyard Haven, Edgartown, and West Tisbury (with their archaic microfiche machines and carefully protected Island collections), the Polly Hill Arboretum, the archives at Harvard University, and the Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library.

Reworking text, photos, and materials for years in the quiet before early morning and then sharing the resulting insights, frustrations, and joys with family has been a key to progress.  I thank Marianne, Christian, and Ava for sharing that space and many tales.

Most critically, in the quest to know a living and lived landscape, there is no resource more fundamental or enjoyable than the people who call the place home. A few local guides have helped forge my major connections and understanding.  Through 5 a.m. emails, countless Black Dog woofers, and spontaneous as well as calculated introductions to people and places, Fritz Knight—banker, developer, and Oak Bluffs denizen—has revealed Vineyard qualities and personalities that are fundamental but easily overlooked.  Through our walks and exchanges of their great knowledge of natural and cultural history Steve Spongberg and John Flender have greatly enriched my perspectives.  For an encyclopedic knowledge of people, institutions, and views on Island life there can be no greater or generous source than Tom Dunlop. For our many ongoing exchanges I am extremely grateful. Finally, Tim Boland renewed my interest in the Vineyard in 2008 with his simple request that I examine those dead oaks in West Tisbury.  Tim, Tom Clark, Karin Stanley, and the Polly Hill Arboretum hosted many visits that led to our own permanent base and this project.

Many others have shared their deep knowledge readily, and often regularly: Edo and Bob Potter, John Varkonda, Dianna Doucette, Nancy Weaver, Brendan O’Neill, Adam Moore, Wes Ward, Bob Woodruff, Jon Previent, Tom Chase, Kate Scott, Rebecca Gilbert, Allan Keith, Robin Hyde, Duke Smith, Luanne Johnson, Jim Athearn, Chris Kennedy, Matt Pelikan, Steve Bernier, Dave Dandridge, Sarah McKay, Allen Healy, Caitlin Jones, Prudy Burt, Tweed Roosevelt, Chris Siedel, Hilary Wall, Bow Van Riper, and Matt Poole.

For access to property and insights to land that they know well I owe many thanks to Burt Fischer, Gerry Jeffers, Lisina Hoch, Charlie Pachico, Bob and Anne Ganz, Dick Leahy, Allen Norton, Wes Nagy, Arlene Conroy, Nik and Pauline Scott, Joan Smith, Matthew and Martha Stackpole, Matthew Dix, Rick Schifter, Eric Peters, Tom Flynn, Tucker Hubbell, John Scherlis, Suzann Bellancampi, Peter Knight, Dick Burt, Martha Cohan, Peter Goodale, Soo Whiting, Mitch Posin and Clarissa Allen, James Lengyel, Julie Russell, Chuck and Martha Schmidt, the Kloss family, Bil Dillon, Lily Walter, the Dunkls, Sam Stevenson, Jay Lagerman, Eric Glasgow, Claudia Miller, and Mark London.

The research underlying the volume was funded by the A.W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research program and Ecology program, Highstead Foundation, Harvard University, and the Beech Tree Trust on Naushon Island.  Great thanks to the Edey Foundation, Gus Daniels Wildlife Trust, and Elisabeth Dudley for supporting the production of the book.

Many people have contributed many hours reviewing small to entire chunks of the book as it developed.  These include Nancy Weaver, Steve Spongberg, Steve Hurley, Jim Athearn, Ed Faison, John McDonald, Dianna Doucette, John Flender, Fritz Knight, Mark London, Jonathan Thompson, Thomas Millette, Adam Moore, Bryan Oakley, Brendan O’Neill, Dick Burt, Jim Richardson, Prudy Burt, Kristin Fauteux, Jim Tuck, Emery Boose, and James Lengyel.  My greatest thanks go to Steve Long, writer, editor, friend, and conservationist who worked closely with me in improving every aspect of the text. Jean Thompson Black, Senior Executive Editor at Yale University Press has offered invaluable insight and support aided by Samantha Ostrowski and others in New Haven.

Over the years many others have opened our eyes to different parts of this coastal landscape: Wendy Breiby, Tina Conroy, Bea Phear, Mait Edey, Ann Fielder, Pam and Clark Goff, Paul Goldstein, Will Hersey, Dick Johnson, Erin Largay, Jim Lentowski, Jane Varkonda, Steve Masterson, George Mathiesen, Bob Mill, Chris Neill, Bill Patterson, Lloyd Raleigh, Megan Sargent, George David, Tim Simmons, Tom Rawinski, Sundy Smith, Linsey Lee, Maria McFarland, Peter Dunwiddie, Ernie Steinauer, Wes Tiffney, JoAnn Taylor, Rob Cimino, Margaret Curtin, Russ Hopping, Jocelyn Forbush, Barbara Erickson, John Vasconcellos, Becky Brown, Bob Childs, Happy Spongberg, Karen Ogden, Penny Uhlendorf, Kelly McClintock, Peter Van Tassel, Peter Fletcher, Keith Wilda, Max McCreery, Jon Atwood, Ed Jerome, Ginny Dautreuil, Paul Cavanaugh, David Stainbrook, Brian Hawthorne, Bill Rivers, Henry Woolsey, Mark Diabaise, and Tess and Kib Bramhall.

I thank Ted Stanley for piloting and patience with my efforts to obtain aerial photographs of the coastal landscape and to Michael Kidder for the use of his plane.

At the Harvard Forest three people have been invaluable:  Glenn Motzkin for sharing early explorations of the coast and the State Forest, Brian Hall for endless help with historical research, field studies, and the creation of a novel set of maps and figures, and Jenny Hobson for support with tasks large and small, and insightful assistance with the photographs.  I have also been greatly aided by Wyatt Oswald, Elaine Doughty, Bryan Shuman, Emery Boose, Aaron Ellison, Edythe Ellin, Laurie Chiasson, Linda Hampson, Jonathan Thompson, John Wisnewski, Roland Meunier, Julie Pallant, Kathy Lambert, Audrey Barker Plotkin, Neil Pederson, Jim Tang, Debby Kaspari, Tim Parshall, Art Allen, Posy Busby, Erik Jorgensen, Ava Foster, Rob Eberhardt, Dana McDonald, Jon Harrod, Erin Largay, Natalie Drake, Susan Clayden, Sylvia Barry Musielewicz, Lindsey Day, Sara Trube, Danica Doroski, and Michael Lawrence.

My understanding and access to the archaeological landscape has been greatly expanded by Elizabeth Chilton, Dianna Doucette, Deena Duranleau, Mitch Mulholland, Dick Burt, Jim Richardson, Jim Tuck, Katie Kirakosian, Evan Taylor, and Brian Jones. My growing appreciation for the landscape at Naushon Island was made possible through the hospitality and illuminating excursions with Gon, Holly, and Ren Leon, Paul Elias, Bruce Bagley, Jodie Frothingham, Narain Schroeder, Brandon McElroy, and David Gregg.

Finally, many organizations have provided information, access, and inspiration: Polly Hill Arboretum, Sherriff’s Meadow Foundation, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, The Trustees of Reservations, The Nature Conservancy, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission, Martha’s Vineyard Commission, Vineyard Conservation Society, Massachusetts Audubon Society, National Park Service, Chicama Vineyards, Farm Neck Golf Course, Red Gate Farm, Morning Glory Farm, Mermaid Farm, and the Island Grown Initiative.

-David R. Foster