I L L U M I N A T I O N N I G H T
One of the things I fell most in love with when I moved to Martha’s Vineyard and began to experience island life, is the way they hold dear and celebrate longtime traditions. ♥ (one of our favorite traditions is listening to this islander sing . . .)
Illumination Night is another favorite. There’s a neighborhood in Oak Bluffs called The Campground where, in around 1840, Methodists began having “meetings” every summer. They brought their families and camped out for weeks, setting up tents in a field about a block from the sea. After a while, they started replacing the tents with tiny wooden cottages, built very close together, with almost no space between them. The Tabernacle (above) was constructed in the 1870’s, and is at the center of the Campground; the cottages circle it, with narrow walkways and “roads” spoking off in all directions, just the right size for a horse and buggy, and most of them too narrow for cars.
The little cottages are dripping with history (and gingerbread!). Illumination Night began at about the same time the Tabernacle was built, when they began lighting up the Campground with candles and oil lamps. These days the tradition is that on one summer night each year, the cottages are decked out with paper lanterns. The evening begins with a community sing with the town band in the Tabernacle; there are picnic dinners on the lawn; at 9 pm, the street lights go out; the cottages light up; and everyone strolls round and round the Tabernacle and down the lanes to oooh and aah at the colors. It happens every year and I thought you’d like to see what it looks like . . . Ready? We’re going to get there early and get a good parking space.
I almost don’t know where to start! Every cottage in this little enclave is different, each is a little work of art, and some have been in the same family since they were built. They’re all painted in the most imaginative ways, and they all have porches. Look at that little detail on the screen! And the curtains! Someone loves this house.
Gingerbread, porches, paint, and rocking chairs . . . pride of place.
I really wouldn’t want to see Joe’s face if I came up with this paint scheme for our house. But I sure do love it when someone else does it!
Peeks at simple elegant cottage life. New is not as popular as old is here.
The furniture, like the cottages, very big on charm. Where less is more.
And more is fun. But wait! Even more . . . .
This is where the truly festive people live! Makes you feel normal doesn’t it? So let’s go join everyone at the Tabernacle and sing “It’s a Grand Old Flag” along with the band!
On our way there, we pass these two adorable people. Campground residents representing small town life at its best. ♥
Just so you know where you are now . . .
You’re in there, under the tabernacle, singing your heart out . . . or you’re outside, playing on the lawn, throwing lightsticks around. You know all the words to I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah, Yankee Doodle Dandy; you sing B – I – N – G – O, and you’re doing stand-up-sit-down songs with the leader of the band.
I think I see you! And then . . . . . . the lights go off! Everyone out of their chairs for the promenade past the little houses, enjoying a warm summer night of celebration that’s been going on for over 100 years.
Can you hear the crickets? Listen; the dog’s name is Rupert and someone’s going to say Hi to him . . . Up and down the narrow winding streets everyone goes . . .
The people on the porches love it as much as we do, they enjoy us enjoying them!
People go all out, it’s a gift! We love them for it! ♥
Do you believe in magic?
On and on it goes, and then there are the little details . . .
Porches and pillows, screen doors and candlelight, lace curtains and wine glasses. Glimpses into lamplit living rooms and kitchens, cooking smells and clattering dishes.
And I will close with that. I’d do more, but a.) you need to get back to work, and b.) I’m a little worried. How many photos and videos one post can handle? I don’t know. How is this loading for you? Do you have to wait forever? Let me know. Hope you enjoyed Illumination Night; pretty soon you’ll have the whole picture of life on Martha’s Vineyard! Where the elves run ahead setting up little scenes just for your enjoyment, and the BIG elf, comes along behind and takes pictures of it. ♥ xoxo