The Allure of Island Life

Feel like life is moving too fast?  Take a few moments to slow down while I have fun explaining, as best I can, the allure of Martha’s Vineyard . . .

I am not alone in this feeling; it is very easy to understand why people from everywhere love this island so much . . .

. . . and like to tell everyone about it . . . because when they’re here, time stops — they feel like they are coming home.  And if the island could sing (which it actually does in its own way), it would sound like this.

People love the small town life they find here . . . they leave their hearts and then they dream of coming back to retrieve them . . .

. . . they like to show their lyalty . . . they like to wave at kindred spirits when they see them on the road . . .

. . . it’s like a secret code, only they understand . . .

. . . Those that know, know; they know they know, and that’s all that matters . . .

. . .  they really don’t care what people think . . .

Because that’s how love is.  It’s totally understandable from my point of view . . . over-the-top love for the island of Martha’s Vineyard has been going on a long time; here are a few reasons why . . .

For most people, this has always been the way they get there . . .

. . . the old-fashioned way; you drive your car onto the ferry for the forty-five minute ride to the island; you can bring your dog and sit on the top deck, with the water and the wind and seagulls flying alongside trying to grab donuts out of your hand; usually you are in love by the time you arrive … it’s already too late, you are smitten …. you go home and get a new license plate.

If you come at night, you’re in even more trouble . . . clanging buoys saying hello, ocean smell and lights along the shore weave a spell . . .

Alone time in quiet places is addictive . . . it’s the little things, like slowing down . . . listening to the waves . . . and watching turtles cross the road . . .

People come here to escape real life and begin to notice things, like sweet gingerbread trim on old houses, for no reason, just because they can  . . . and do . . .

. . .  people come to commune with nature . . . they like to share the space . . .

. . . they come to see interesting monuments to the past . . . and understand island history . . .

They come because they like to smell the roses . . .

They come to steam up the place . . .

The all come looking for something; for some, it’s heart-shaped rocks . . .

They like to have their lunch in a room with a view . . .

They come because they like the roofline in downtown metropolitan Vineyard Haven…

They come for the long sunsets….

They come to go fishing . . .

They come to light candles on the beach and forget the days . . .

They come to look for shooting stars . . . and they find them . . .

They come to hear the music of a different drummer . . .

And they come because they like porches . . . and people who know how to decorate . . .

They come to watch the moon rise . . .

They come to shop . . .

Many come for summer . . .

Some like the fall . . .

And some who come here

Never leave at all. 

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553 Responses to The Allure of Island Life

  1. Balisha says:

    I have always thought it would be wonderful to live on an island. A note of caution…after reading this glowing description of island life…your population may increase:)

  2. Terry says:

    Hi, Susan!

    That was a beautiful post! Martha’s Vineyard is not too far of a drive from NJ. I think I have to put it on my bucket list.


  3. Yes, I totally agree with Balisha! After reading this, your population is going to go way up – and I mean WAYYYYYYY up!!!
    I have lots of places that I want to visit right here in the United States (like the Grand Canyon) and now you made Martha’s Vinyard one of the top places on my list.♥ Thanks, Susan!

  4. Jan says:

    What is that blooming behind your roses? They look blue in the picture, but are they white? Gorgeous. Your island is beautiful, but your artwork is the more beautiful of the two. The birthday cake and hydrangeas from Anticipation are just amazing. Your talent is endless.

  5. Jenny says:

    I’m on my way . . .

  6. Janice Gregoire says:

    The pictures of Martha’s Vineyard are absolutely beautiful! I live on Prince Edward Island, Canada from May until October and I feel the same way about PEI that you and many others do about MV. Isn’t life just wonderful on these small islands? It just makes you stop and think about the important things in life… taking time to enjoy every minute! Thanks for the pictures and your reflections! Although there are many beautiful places to visit in the United States, you will have to check out PEI someday!


    • sbranch says:

      I’ve always wanted to!

      • Janice Gregoire says:

        Put it on your bucket list! We have gorgeous beaches and sunsets there too!

        • sbranch says:


          • Susie in Dewitt Michigan says:

            Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables – my very favorite book(s). I would love to go to PEI to walk where Anne might have. Since I doubt I ever will, how about considering a diary from your trip to PEI? And since we have to wait for your England diary to hear the rest of your and Joe’s story, how about telling us about this ship you own. The Susan B I believe it’s called ; ) ss

          • sbranch says:

            I’ll do that one of these days . . .

  7. Julie says:

    Just occurred to me-
    your “Love on the Rocks” photo,
    overlooking the ocean, from the Vineyard
    bears a striking, melancholy resemblance to the photos
    of a young Beatrix Potter overlooking her inspirational Lake District…
    uncanny, profound & almost interchangeable.

    Such creative energy, kind souls & kindred spirits-
    would love to see both similar photos grace a page, together.

    I’d say, your shattered but resolute heart
    relocated, rebound & reshaped itself to find amazing love
    and a very well-purposed life.

    I remember, when the “Prairie” look overlapped the Annie Hall look.
    It was charming & individually, amusing & witty.
    One could mix & mish-mash everything.
    I swear my sister had the same exact striped top, as in your photo.
    I KNOW she had that same sweater vest.

    No “borrowing” from her closet, everything had a price.
    She charged 10 cents for a top & a whopping 25 cents for a skirt.
    No balking-
    she would quickly & astutely remind me,
    that….after all, she WAS a “Business Major”.

    She did offer up a daily “two-fer” deal-
    if I went for a top & a skirt, she’d knock a nickel off the total
    & steal 30 cents from my babysitting, knee sock-
    Sweet, Little Miser !

    Hope you still have those clothes-
    by the looks of things,
    that winsome, dreamy “Prairie” look is making a comeback.
    The person who said, “Everything old is new again”,
    definitely HAD to be in the fashion industry !

    Have yourself….a glorious afternoon & a wonderful, stargazing evening !

    • sbranch says:

      How’s your sister’s business life now? She was a tough cookie! I had a brother like that!

      • Julie says:

        Ha !
        As you well know, Susan, that in a family of eight kids,
        there’s always at least one
        money grubbin’ mobster OR mobsterette
        in the litter.
        We called her “Bossypants” & with good reason !

    • judi says:

      I have two older sisters. When I was a junior and senior in high school …I was the best dressed around. Hint…they left for work before I left for school:)

  8. Kathy Fletcher says:

    Can you tell me if i am correct? the last Willard i have is from April- well i was reading thru some post and saw where you had put that it comes out every month- i know you couldn’t do it in June- because you were traveling….but did i miss May? I resigned up for it- and i hope i am not bothering you by asking- but want to make sure i haven’t missed any…….i bought the Willard book from you- love it…….love all your things….just wish i could buy one of each- or maybe two.
    Have a wonderful day- your last blog just makes me want to come live there so bad….love all the areas-and things you show us. Thank You!@!@

    • sbranch says:

      No, I haven’t done one in a few months, since we went away. But I will soon! Thanks for asking Kathy!

  9. Joey says:

    Maybe some day…. the lure of ‘getting away from it all’ is pretty strong these days… sounds like an opportunity to me!!

  10. Nikki says:

    I’ve lived on two islands in my life – Key West, FL and Provincetown, MA but I actually don;t think that is technically an island though it sort of feels like one. I lived in Key West for eight years though and that was definitely an island though we were connected by the 7 mile bridge.

    I’m still a New Englander at heart though and I long to go back to the Cape (where I spent the summers of my youth).The next time I am back that way to go to P-twon I think we will take a side-trip to MV. My mother has been and she loved it.

  11. Angie B in Oregon says:

    Wow! How beautiful!

  12. Pat Johnson of Paso Robles says:

    What a great sample of MV! Again you sent me the ability to smile and feel good. THANKS! This is the way I feel when I journey from Paso Robles to Newport, Washington and the cabin. I am in a different world with the beauty of nature all around. Enjoy……XXXXOOOO Pat

  13. Lorna W. says:

    Hi Susan, since reading your blog I’ve wondered how you found MV and why & how you were able to stay on island? Not the easiest thing to do! It is one of my favorite places to be. We have gone every summer for a few weeks for years but not this summer. I’m missing MV already but your wonderful pictures are just like being there……..OK, all most. Thank You again for just an amazing blog, it is just such a gift.
    All the best to you!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m going to write that story someday, it always seems like a bit of a miracle to me!

      • Marianne says:

        Lorna beat me to the question I was going to ask you. I received your Willards by snail-mail almost from the beginning I think, but it’s been off and on that I check into your website the past few of years – and I’m not on facebook, and rarely ever on Twitter – so I’ve absolutely been enjoying your blog so much! So – I thought maybe I had missed the story of how you found Martha’s Vineyard from California. And I’ve wondered if you and your parents and siblings went there for a vacation when you were young? Or if you became intrigued because you read an article in a magazine? Or book? We will all look forward to hearing that story.

        • sbranch says:

          I will love to tell that story too, as I think it’s all such a big surprise that I found my way here, 3000 miles from home!

  14. Gail from Hingham, Mass. says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your beautiful blog about Martha’s Vineyard reminds me of the many summers our family spent on Nantucket (for those of you who might not know it’s the sister island to MV). You have capured the essence of that elusive magical pull that keeps people coming back there year after year. I so LOVE your photo – you were and still are adorable! Thanks so much for tugging on my hearstrings and bringing me back to a wonderful time and place. Wishing you and Joe a lovely evening under Vineyard stars. xoxoGail

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Gail, in the beautiful city of Hingham!

      • Gail from Hingham, Mass. says:

        I forgot to mention that my parents spent their honeymoon on Martha’s Vineyard., juat after the war in 1946! Can you imagine what it must have been like then?

  15. Michelle in Ohio says:

    We were on MV at the beginning of the month and I still can’t get it out of my head! Even with the crazy 4th of July traffic it was beautiful.

  16. Gloria Howard says:

    Oooh. I’m trying to adjust to the fact that this is the first summer in 23 years that I’m NOT going to the Vineyard. After reading this blog, I know that next year I’m staying for two weeks!!!!!

  17. Donna Ackermann says:

    We were there for a short time 44 years ago. Made the mistake of not taking car on the ferry. We rented bicycles. That was a joke. I soooooooo loved your blogging on the trip and had a hard time when you got back home. This post made of for it. Thanks. Most days I check your blog before Facebook !

  18. kary gonyer says:

    what a DARLING post….my friend, julie whitmore told me this morning…get over to susan’s blog A.S.A.P. !!!!! oh…the house with the lanterns !!!!

    what they heck am i doing out here in california….i guess i can “pretend”.

    kary and teddy

  19. Kari says:

    Ahhh, the perfect afternoon break. Your photo is just stunning and so is the island! I love that you put the chickens in the picture, too!


  20. pat addison says:

    susan i just have ask a question, after seeing that lovely lobster dinner, are they seeing the multi-colored lobsters i was reading about that are appearing up and down the east coast in Martha’s Vineyard, like the blue, or the golden lobsters or the calico ones????

  21. barbara miller says:

    your words about mv were lovely. as a new englander transplanted in the northwest i can wax poetic about home. it seems the sand on the beaches is never as soft. i miss the smell of low tide and even the screams of the gulls and the lap of the water. today i sit a bit melancoly. my 97 yr old father-in-law has died. his remains will be shipped to nova scotia where he will rest with his wife of 69 years. they are by the shore of fundy bay. the gulls will sing to them. the water will lap against the rocks.and they will be missed.

    • sbranch says:

      Beautiful Barbara . . . I’m so sorry for your loss, your writing about it put tears in my eyes.

      • Janet says:

        I had the same reaction, Barbara, in reading this, but then I was thinking too…. Wow, how many of us would feel the loss of a father-in-law this deeply? A great tribute to him and to your relationship… I know you know this but – as sad as you are – take joy in how lucky and blessed you were to have had a father-in-law so wonderful that you’ll miss him this much… All my sympathy to you and your family.

  22. linda says:


    I love your handwriting when you do your journals and books! Are there books that show your style so it can be practiced? I know there are calligraphy books but not sure if there is a name to your style.

    • sbranch says:

      No there really isn’t, it’s just my handwriting, which I’ve never made into a font.

      • I’m glad you haven’t made your handwriting into a font. It is uniquely YOURS and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be able to use it (not even me 🙂 ) And besides, I think there is an energy that rests on the handwritten page that you can’t get from a typed page. Even though your readers only have a printed copy, it’s at least one less mechanization. I can only imagine what your original copies must “feel” like!

  23. Debra V. says:

    Some who come here, never leave at all ! That’s you! How old were you in this photo? Was it when you came to the Island to relocate after things went bad with your marrage? When you were ready for recouperating and needed healing? It looks like you are in your late teens or early early 20’s. But you know it’s a great picture of you. ***I went to Idaho when my marrage went south many many years ago and when I went there to visit – I never left…at least not for 7 years. Until my father died and I had to come back to care for my elderly mother here in Southern California. ***I think sometimes we find a place that just suits us like a glove and it becomes our “home”. It was that way for me, and it sounds like it was that way for you too.***Thank you for sharing your beautiful poetic side and your awesome photos too. ***I will put Martha’s Vineyard on my schedule to visit within the next two years. ***Meanwhile I enjoy our visits via the etheral waves (the internet). I know that I will read this blog over and over and enjoy the photos, thanks again.
    Sincerely, Debra V from sunny Southern California (LA County)

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, this photo was taken when I was 33 and had just moved to the island — and it fit me like a glove! Thank you Debra!

  24. Joan B says:

    Just Gorgeous, Susan.
    You have captured the essence of MV / Cape Cod / island life.
    God bless.
    Joan B.

  25. Beth says:

    Oh what a lovely, magical place! You are definitely increasing my Places to Visit List with your blog! I love it! 🙂 You spread joy…what a wonderful life’s work. Thank you! <3

  26. Susie in Dewitt Michigan says:

    Hi Susan I’m sure you have your share of trials and tribulations in your life just like the rest of your girlfriends, but you sure make it seem like Island Life is always good, and relaxed, and just fun! And, for some reason, this post has really made me want to know the rest of your and Joe’s story. Come on! Tell us now! Please : ) Hugs, Susie

    • sbranch says:

      I will, I put the whole story of how I met Joe in the Diary!

      • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

        Ooooh! Your English Diary just keeps getting better and better!
        Can’t wait to savor every word!

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          How fun! This is really a true diary….will it come with
          lock and key?! Susan, you know how I love your
          lamb painting? I printed and cut her out for a book
          mark, so when I’m at class I can think “happy!” I’m
          almost done (yay) and then “lambie” will wait for my
          copy of “the Diary” where she will be pasted on the
          front page and if we should ever meet ….could you make my name look cute too?

  27. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Your pictures of summertime at Martha’s Vineyard took my breath away!!! It’s better than any travel brochure!!! (Can you tell us how old you were in the last photo……..if we promise not to tell any one else????????)

  28. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Good Evening Susan * Hi…

    I just L O V E your new post celebrating “Martha’s Vineyard”.

    Can your island be any more charming? I think not. After reading all of the girlfriends’ posts, I, too, would love to live on Martha’s Vineyard and be swept away by its beautiful landscapes, flowers, cottage-homes, and the fact that it’s a 45 minute ferry ride from civilization.

    Oh! I can almost picture my husband, Ron’s and my license plate…
    And if you see it, you’ll know we’re there!
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  29. Tawni urrutia says:

    So sweet and full of summer cheer! Your island reminds me of the charles wysocki prints from back in the day. BUT, that picture of you on the rocks…arrow to the heart! I want to bring that girl a big bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough, throw my arms around her and tell her, not only are things going to be fine…they’re going to be MARVELOUS! Ugh, the best metal is fire tested, you are pure gold!
    Thank you for sharing!
    XOXO tawni

  30. judi says:

    Not sure if anyone else asked but, do you know the history of the grave with the chickens? Very interesting.

  31. Kelly J. says:

    What a beautiful place to live, play & work! I can see how you fell in love with the island and never wanted to leave. I spent a very brief time there a few years back and it’s on my ‘bucket list’ to get back again sometime….here’s to the rest of the summer! Kelly from Northeastern PA

  32. Brenda says:

    Just one word…Beautiful!!!

  33. chris says:

    My little sis has a big birthday coming up next year and we are planning a visit to the island. She came once before for a short stay and promised to come back bringing me with her. Its a place I have always wanted to visit so cant wait for it to happen and these photos and your comments are really making me want the time to go quickly till next year. so if some strange enlish ladies come knocking on your door its only us.

    • sbranch says:

      You are going to love the island! England to Martha’s Vineyard and the other way around works really well!

      • Gaynor says:


        Don’t forget your Brummie/New England friend is coming too! Miss you lots!

        • chris says:

          Well it just wouldnt be the same without Gaynor there 🙂
          Oh happy happy days to look forward to

          Lots of love

          Chris xxx

  34. Dianne says:

    LOVE the post on Martha’s Vineyard! While I have never visited, your description is exactly how I think of it, just from the books I’ve looked at! I hope to come visit someday, however I think I will not want to leave. Keep posting pictures..its like a mini vacation for all your readers!:)

  35. Jack says:

    Do you and Joe still have your Ship — The Susan B. ?

  36. suzk says:

    I’m a life-long New Englander who has never been to the Vineyard! I think a fall trip is something I need to do. I have an October vacation scheduled with nothing special planned…. yup, think I just filled some of that time up!

  37. Barbara says:

    What beautiful pictures of Martha’s Vineyard. I too have been there but in the summer when it was sooo crowded. My next trip back will be in late Sept or early Oct when the crowds die down. Theres a calmness to the island thats worth exploring.

  38. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    dear Susan,
    Thoughts of YoU and Joe, together, on martha’s vineyard always make my heart the happiest. Your home is with each other. But, on the island……m a g i c !
    Your post had a way of soothing my soul, reminding me to never give up on
    my dreams….even the daydreams, and that your peasant skirt was way cuter
    than my peasant skirt!!! But, oh, how I loved my peasant blouse that I wore
    with my peasant skirt! And then, I started getting all nostalgic with James
    Taylor…………do you remember the song, Turn,Turn,Turn sung by the Byrds?…..
    It goes good with the skirt 😉 Susan, I see you on that big rock with dreams just waiting over your shoulder (I love to just sit and stare at the water… to dream). You look so small on that rock …. perhaps, some monkey was off your back? I bet, at that time….you never knew what a heroine you were…… 🙂
    “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim” -Nora Ephron
    YoU will always be a Hero to me. And, all the GOOD that you put out into this world……might just save it! 🙂 XoXDawn

    • sbranch says:

      Me and you and everyone else, we just need to be a little more banded together. xoxo

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        Yes, it can happen! “Many hands, make heavy work…light.”
        I hope you have a wonderful evening with Joe…..full of peace and love and maybe Kimmie too?! :} sure sounds good to me!

  39. Gini Gould says:

    It is so easy to turn from the world and focus on your life-giving posts, Susan. You so have my attention. I fly away to Windsor NY where raised, and Jones Beach Long Island, latter part of childhood. There I taste, feel, see, reminisce, reflect on years, family, friends gone forever. Life was simplier then. I can almost touch it. I hold on to your every word and tear up.

  40. mary spring says:

    ……kindred spirits, indeed !!..thank goodness..and P.S. ,Gini, I did so appreciate the heart-felt birthday wish you sent my way a few days ago…it meant so much to me !!!..thank you sincerely…

    • Gini Gould says:

      I hope you have a wonderful day today Mary, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…….

  41. Sheryl from Chico,CA says:

    Hi Girlfriend,
    I think we all knew this blog would end this way. It brought a tear to my eye…so sentimental…all of it. I think you are content to be home for a while.
    Love You,

  42. What a poignant post! There’s something about island life; I lived on an island, for a short time, and loved it. Never did get rock fever, only felt pain when I had to leave. I consider my farm my island now; a balm in Gilead to soothe my soul.

  43. Terry Golson says:

    I just had to tell you that I recently bought that very same plastic chicken (as seen on the chicken lady’s grave) at the Brimfield Flea Market. Perhaps she would appreciate that it was originally part of an arcade game and the top of the game said, “FUN CHICKEN.”

  44. Anne says:

    Awww…I love the picture of you Susan – you look like Annie Hall! MV is very special – I visited for the first time in 1998. I remember it well because I had a very hard time getting off the island – there was a huge Nor’easter! It was quite an adventure! I stayed in Oak Bluffs by the harbor and rented a bike and road all over. I couldn’t get over how charming and pretty everything was – just like you’ve been describing for all these years in your books. I loved it and was on a high for weeks when I returned home. I have a confession to make – I took a picture of your house when I was there! I couldn’t resist! No stalking – I took it from down the street:-) It was early June and your flowers were gorgeous! Thanks for the lovely reminder of your beautiful island.

  45. Cindy Tuning says:

    You are such a brave soul! Life works out exactly how it’s supposed to I think. Long ago, in my very early 20’s I saw a picture of Annapolis MD and just new that’s where I was supposed to be. There were many clues that were drawing me there but I wasn’t a brave soul and and stayed close to home. Thirty five years, 3 kids and 2 grandchildren later I’m still here. There’s probably a handsome Naval Officer with gold on his shoulders and a sailboat just waiting! Do ya think?

    • sbranch says:

      I think it could very well be . . . I think those heart magnets that draw us places are there for a reason. Life is so interesting, with all the choices we make, and who knows how they’re going to go! Those kids you love, they’re because of that choice, so it must have been a good one!

  46. Cindy Tuning says:

    You are such a brave soul! Life works out exactly how it’s supposed to I think. Long ago, in my very early 20’s, I saw a picture of Annapolis MD and just knew that’s where I was supposed to be. There were many clues that were drawing me there but I wasn’t a brave soul and stayed close to home. Thirtyfive years, 3 kids and 2 grandchildren later I’m still here. There’s probably a handsome Naval Officer with gold on his shoulders and a sailboat just waiting! Do ya think?

  47. Elaine says:

    Gosh, yes, that is why I visit and love the Vineyard. The sunsets, illumination night, lazing on the porch of the Oak Bluffs Inn eating freshly baked cookies and drinking lemonade infused with mint, and photographing the most gorgeous place on earth! Would love to live there and not just visit, someday!

  48. Georgie says:

    Oh Susan!

    After my past 3 days at work I found myself returning to your blog to immerse myself in the island life of MV. I was ready to jump in the GEJO van with only the clothes on my back, kidnap my Joe, grab my phone and my purse and head north!!! Until the time when I can get away, I will keep dreaming. 😉


  49. Michelle says:

    Oh! Can I be your sister? Then I could come visit you every Summer on your oh-so-perfect island! Or I cold just go on trips with you… hahaha… Have a great day!

  50. Julie says:

    Oh dear-
    God bless, Judi, she had luck on her side……..not I !

    I only tried the “borrowing without asking” method just once.
    Had put my “Tiger Beat” subscription on hold,
    so I could cash in two weeks worth of babysittin’ wampum
    on one of those big, sloppy, fuzzy, mohair sweaters,
    knowing the perfect accompaniment was
    hanging in my sister’s closet-
    a plaid kilt with one of those great big, shiny gold, “diaper” pins.

    I was a freshman, she was at University and didn’t get home til’ late.
    It was Autumn, didn’t need a coat but wore a trenchcoat to & fro
    to cover up the crime.
    Could never be too cautious-
    in a big family, there were too many snitches & tattlers.

    What a great day, new sweater, “new” kilt,
    my hair was sprayed with a fresh new can of Yardley “Hair Shiner”
    & that cute senior in study hall smiled & held the door for me.

    Ahhhh…….nothing could spoil this day-
    I stepped off the school bus & spied the sister’s car,
    coming ’round the corner-
    the professor had cancelled her afternoon class.
    WHAT ?

    I can still feel my heart doin’ the bongo beat,
    raced into the house & up the stairs, rippin’ the kilt off.
    I hit the top landing & could hear her footsteps below.
    I knew I could get into her room & clip the kilt back onto the hanger
    but I wasn’t sure I could make it out of there in time.
    Caught wearing her kilt was bad enough,
    caught in HER room was like kissing a guillotine.

    Other than diving out, of her 2nd floor window, my options were limited.
    As I heard her feet hit the stairwell, I flung myself out of her doorway,
    still in my trenchcoat, covering my half-slip
    & landed on the hallway floor, where I had dropped my pile of school books.

    She, nonchalantly, kicked my books out of her way,
    gave me that “oddball” look & said, “Going somewhere” ?

    I was an emotional wreck-
    NEVER ever again, did I sneak anything from her closet.
    Literally, I would get the shakes & heebie-jeebies
    every time I saw her wearing that kilt
    or to this day…..any time I see or hear a Scottish bagpiper.

    Was it worth it……..heck NO !

    • But what a great story it made. Enjoyed reading it.

      Did your sister ever find out? Does she read this blog? lol.

      • Julie says:

        Hopefully, everyone reads Susan’s blog…except that sister.
        No, i never told her-
        Can’t you tell, I was sweating bullets just writing about it ?

        Yeah, we all grow up & get over things but some things are better left unsaid.
        Besides she tried to convince my mother that I was playing my Beatles music so loud
        that it was effecting her “Poli-Sci” grades-
        now c’mon, that right there is unforgivable !

        • sbranch says:

          I have to agree with you!!! And I do hope she doesn’t read this blog! 🙂 She might have to get you for this!

    • Tawni urrutia says:


    • judi says:

      Oh Julie 🙂 did you ever tell her? I’m the youngest of 3 girls – all 3 years apart. Oh, the drama some days:) when we were teenagers. All love each other now.

      • Julie says:


        If confession is good for the soul,
        it can also dig a deeper hole.
        I’m still suffering aftershock-
        No way did I confess, not then, not almost 50 years later !
        That photo of young Susan on the rocks unleashed all kinds of memories….
        thanks, Susan…..I think ?

        Out of 5 girls & 3 boys, I was the shy, quiet, sensitive one, stuck in the middle…an easy mark.
        Forget the bossy, sister thing, the moral of the story
        is to never go ANYWHERE without a long coat-
        a trench coat, a granny coat, a boiled wool coat or a Gorton’s fish, vinyl slicker.
        It will protect you from lots of mishaps.

        Another sister visited & forgot to pack her
        black “wrap-a-round” skirt & gave me permission to wear it.
        While walking from work during rush hour one day,
        I was unaware, the belt came untied
        I felt like I was walking in quick sand,
        could hardly move my feet.
        This little, italian gardener,
        who looked like an organ grinder & manicured the grounds
        of a stately mansion kept yelling to me.
        I couldn’t understand his accent-
        then he pointed to my feet
        & said, “Honey, I think you dropped something”.
        I looked down & the wrap-a-round skirt
        was now wrapped around my ankles.

        By then, traffic was jammed & horns were tooting & pointing.
        I wanted to die, luckily I had on a “long coat” to compensate.
        I thought about just stepping out of the tangled mess & leaving it on the sidewalk, as if nothing had happened,
        but it belonged to my sister,
        so I scooped it up & went into a full gallop-
        never so happy to get inside my apartment…
        away from the rest of the world.

        Yes, I did tell that sister, mainly to warn her about the
        malfunctioning skirt
        & we did have a belly-laugh because that’s all one can do,
        but the horror of the moment stays with you forever,

        Every day, i’d pass that little, italian gardener & he’d say,
        “And how are WE doing today” ?
        I’d give him a wave & say, “Good” & he would wink, in return.
        Out of all the drama comes such sweetness.

        After all those close calls-
        I didn’t borrow anyone’s clothes
        & my trench coat was always within reach.

  51. Jody says:

    How can you NOT LOVE James Taylor, then and now. Thanks Susan for posting….I have never been to Martha’s Vineyard, but have always loved the island, reading anything about the island I could get my hands on. Especially loved the series of books by Philip R. Craig. Thank you so much for posting pictures and videos. I hope to one day get there, but if I don’t, I pray that heaven is Martha’s Vineyard.

  52. Karen Saunders says:

    Reading through the previous entries I saw where Nora Ephron was mentioned and read that she had died. I was sad because she really knew how to do a wonderful visual movie. Like in the old days when all the movie sets were beautiful and houses were over the top. She will be sadly missed.

  53. Well, Susan and Girlfriends are we all ready to head back over the pond to watch the Olympics starting with the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow…by now we all should be rested up and ready to see the lovely countryside once again!! GOOD LUCK U.S.A. Bring home that GOLD!!!!

  54. Barbara Vatcher says:

    Your wonderful pictures and writing transport me to place I would surely
    love to visit. I lived on a very crowded little island in southern California
    absolutely nothing compared to MV but just being an island and reaching it
    on a ferry made it special. But your

    ultimate wonderful island is indeed
    being fully enjoyed on my computer screen joyously! thank you susan

  55. Doreen Strain (from Florida) says:

    Hi Sue,
    I was just sitting here catching up on the girlfriends posts when it dawned on me while reading them, that when we all come here we allow that women from within us all to come out and share herself with all of those here on your blog. We all have that inner connection to each other and there are certain posts it comes out in more than others. I think this post worked for all of us because we all dare to dream of a life of peace, one where we can have our dreams become reality just like you did. We find inspiration in your posts to us and you share the happiness you have so we too can feel it along with you when our worlds may be a little different than we planned. Holding onto a friendship with someone that you really connect with is a gift in itself. I had tears in my eyes just reading through some of the posts here today. Boy, we’d have one heck of a party if we all got together in one room. I think we’d all act as if we’ve known each other since grade school. I just got the warm fuzzy’s from this post and thought I’d share that because I know we’re all kindred spirits and I’m not alone in saying that. Have a great summer evening! FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

    • Gini Gould says:

      Hello Florida! What a sweet note you left for me earlier today, Doreen! Thank you. I feel your friendship, and love your idea of having a FOSB party in a (large?) room. (That’s much better than to have partied in those suitcases on board ship.) So glad we restrained ourselves then; Susan would have insisted on our ladylike behavior. Enjoy having you on board now.!

  56. Hello!
    What an inspiring post! This is one of the places I want to visit! Didn’t I read they filmed the Jaws movie from here too! I know- you’ve probably heard that one before! I love the special treatments on the homes. I just visited Mackinac Island which isn’t far from me. It’s always a treat to go there. Looks like you’ve embraced life there and have been rewarded with a beautiful place to live!

  57. Laurie Walt-Illinois says:

    I’ll be there in the fall!

  58. Kate Beecher says:

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. It is so cheerful – it takes me back to my dreamy childhood!
    The flower you think may be Dame’s Rocket looks like Phlox to me?? My wild Phlox does not take over, though – I actually have been having a hard time keeping it from dying off completely here in CT. Maybe it is due to the type of Winters we have been having lately. Thank you for all of the beautiful pictures – they make me feel like I am on vacation!! 🙂


  59. Ruth Thomas says:

    I grew up in Newport, RI – a small island. My dad was in the Navy and we lived there until I was 13. My dad retired and we moved to California – Burbank. I hated it – I missed RI so much. To live in a small (very small) island is such a blessing. I lived on Spring St. for most of my time in RI. To be able to go to the beach daily in the summer months and to enjoy the wonderful, full snows in the winter. We lived 2 blocks from Narragansett Bay and could see the bay every morning was invigorating – the smell of the ocean and the sand; the taste of bologna sandwiches, potato chips and Kool Aid, even if there was sand in them – incredible. I went back to visit in 2003 – 40 years after I left – and it had hardly changed. I remembered every street and lane, the houses we lived in were still there, the schools, the stores – oh how I miss it still. 24 years ago, we left California for Indiana and I’ve not missed a minute of California, but I would move to Newport in a minute. There is nothing like it – I’d love to visit Vineyard Haven some day – thank you, Susan, for sharing your island with us and bringing back such wonderful memories for me.

  60. Lynn says:

    September 9 – 1:15 ferry – can’t wait. I hope our week goes as slow as the past year waiting for our vacation. Your pictures were wonderful – I felt like I was already there!

  61. Sherri Fabbri says:

    Wish I could visit MV! You’re so lucky to live there! I do get to Arroyo Grande once a year when I visit my parents in SLO, and my brother & wife (Brent and Eileen Dill). I think you know them. When will you be there next? I’m going next week! I’d love to meet you sometime!

    • sbranch says:

      Not sure when I’ll be out in CA next time, want to finish my book first! Miss it though!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Dear Sweet Sue I’m looking forward to your book signings – my chances of meeting you in CA are much higher than your chances of meeting me on the East Coast, if I were a betting woman!!! Although, “A dream is a wish….” that some day I’ll get to the East Coast & meet you!!! Happy Friday & weekend everyone! Oh, gotta tell you garden lover GFs, yesterday my 3Bs (Bridgeless Bridge Babes – now we do field trips instead of play bridge!) GFs went to Big Springs Gardens at Sierra City CA (has a website), gorgeous High Sierra gardens a devoted gardener has been working on for over 30 years (he’s 88 now, charming, handsome, delightful man), gorgeous gardens, & fabulous lunch under the pines with beautiful music! A truly heavenly day!! Some days are just overflowing with blessings! xoxoxo

  62. Deb '51 says:

    This is amazing – I can hear the island calling me right now! I must answer…

  63. JFETZ says:

    My best friend and I have come to your island every year for 26 years – through marriages, divorces, children, job changes… doesn’t matter… matter what, it is a tradition we both cherish – – – – for ALL the reasons you mentioned. The last picture of you is precious….you had the same “life is wonderful” smile then as you have now….thank you for reminding us how special the Vineyard is and how special everyday joys are!

  64. Corey says:

    Lovely beautiful fantastic post! I’m ready to move to MV!

  65. Cindy says:

    Surely, I would never leave if I came to your island! 🙂

  66. Lori from Maine says:

    Hi Susan ~ I can understand your love of Martha’s Vineyard ~ I feel the same way about MY island – Mount Desert Island, Maine. For the girlfriends who don’t know, that’s where Acadia Nat’l. Park and Bar Harbor are located. Sometimes I look at the tourists walking around pointing at this and that and think how very, very lucky I am to live here. I look at things through their eyes and, although I appreciate living here, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routines and forget just exactly where I live. Hubby and I are also fortunate to have a small camp on a lake off the Island where we can escape the hustle and bustle of the Island during the tourist season. Right now as I sit at my computer, I can smell the ocean breeze and the wild roses growing in my yard. Lobster is pretty inexpensive right now – I plan on buying a few tomorrow and making a big dish of lobster salad (YUM). Have a great weekend Sue and girlfriends!
    xoxxoooxxx from SW Hbr., ME

    ps. Hi to Dorothy Ann from Cougar Mtn. – it was great to hear from you tonight! xo

  67. Did you visit MV first before deciding to move there or did you pack your belongings and just go?

  68. Frances Fowler says:

    I love the last picture most of all! In the meantime, in a very humid north Georgia, I’m thinking FALL!!

  69. Joan in TX says:

    It all looks so wholesome Americana like what you would see in a Norman Rockwell painting. (Since we are on the subject of moving to MV – is the cute drawing that is across from page 9 in your Vineyard Season’s book the cottage that you lived in when you moved to MV?)
    Would love to see pictures of your first cottage on MV. Is it still there? (If yes, I get first dibs!!)

  70. Miriam says:

    LOVE your outfit!!! 😉 A wonderful post……so want to visit MV someday!! xoxox

  71. Katy Noelle says:

    Can I just go on by without stopping to tell you what a wonderful post? Apparently, NO! Thank you so much for it!


  72. I love how you wrote this post like a poem. The picture of you is adorable. Were you this your when you moved to MV? or was it just taken here another time? I’m on the west coast but I read a book about MV and have always been curious. For now I can see what it’s like, living there, through your posts. Thanks for blogging!

  73. barbzie says:

    You touched many a heart while sharing your thoughts in this post, Susan. How rewarding it must be for you to see how much others love and benefit from your generousity of spirit. You just capture our imaginations and whisk us away from the mundane. But really….what’s so cool about your outlook, Susan, is that I think you’d see magic in most settings. I feel the same way. I mean, I too have my need for the pretty in life, and the charming. But depending on how you look at your surroundings, that magic can be right in front of your eyes. I’m really thankful for that gift, to see life in this way. It makes every day a chapter just waiting to unfold. I love reading about this attitude in your life, Susan. Doesn’t it make you feel just so rich?

    • sbranch says:

      SO grateful, every single day, that I have the life I have … just saying to Joe last night, we’d gone for a long walk out to the water, such a beautiful evening, we were back home, door was open, garden growing, I was knitting, he was puttering in the kitchen, and I just felt so lucky to be alive here in peace. I definitely don’t take these simple days for granted.

  74. Gaynor says:

    Hi Chris,

    I can hear MV calling us already!!

    Love ya lots,

    Gaynor x

    • chris says:

      Hi Gaynor

      I can hear it as well 🙂 cant wait.

      Hope Susan and MV will be ready for us.

      Love you too

      Chris xx

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