I walked out of my house the other day and my daughter said, “It smells like spring!” She was right… spring has arrived and it’s amusing to see the excitement that a sunny day can bring to our Martha’s Vineyard community after a long, cold and gray winter. The enthusiasm in the air is contagious! Being a “southerner” by upbringing, my joy is unmatched to once again feel the sun’s warmth. Having lived in New England for more years than I need to share, I have learned to not watch the calendar and hold my breath for this annual occurrence. Some years we experience the joy of warming weather and burgeoning spring blossoms in March, and other years we seem to skip spring entirely and blast right into summer in late June.
Thankfully, this year seems to be following the first path and we are all relishing the early emergence of this celebrated season. What does one do on the island in spring? Ahhhh, I was hoping you would ask! The answers are as varied as the population, but here are some family friendly highlights:
When my family was young, our favorite spring ritual was to head to South Beach to “chase waves”. This is a spring tradition because it is too cold and windy in the winter when the kids inevitably get wet (the younger ones usually end up looking like they have been swimming) We usually find very few other people on the beach in the spring, and having an expanse of beach and ocean all to yourself is a very peaceful feeling… as long as you can’t hear my kids yelling at the waves! I also appreciate the spring at South Beach because the kids (usually!) are not tempted to go swimming. The surf and current can be very strong, so I recommend avoiding South Beach with young children for the warmer, swimming expeditions; but for wave chasing, it’s perfect!
One sign of spring that may be unique for Martha’s Vineyard is the much anticipated opening of Edgartown’s Dairy Queen. This year’s opening day, as usual, saw a line wrapped around the porch and into the parking lot! I personally do not think it is the quality of their soft serve that draws this kind of crowd (although it’s yummy). It may be the general absence of fast food or chain stores on the island, or the fact that they were closed all winter. The Dairy Queen is one of the first seasonal operations to reopen, and it is a sure sign of spring! Being a crank in crowds, I avoid “opening day”, but we did make our first obligatory spring pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard’s Dairy Queen the following weekend after they opened. Although there was a little chill in the air, we ate our ice cream at their picnic tables in the sunshine, and enjoyed every minute of it!
Another anticipated spring opening is the Flying Horse Carousel. My children are getting older, but I think a visit to the Carousel will continue to be an annual spring tradition until they have kids of their own to put on those gorgeous antique horses! This year the Flying Horses opened on Easter weekend for weekends, and will be open all week during the April school vacation week April 14-21. As I confessed earlier that I try to avoid crowds, making a visit in the spring usually means that I have an excuse to avoid the more popular summer months… I always have a strategy!
Also on the radar for family fun this week, is the annual re-opening of the Island Cove Adventures mini golf park. Even if there are family members who are not into mini golf, their rock climbing wall and BBQ snack bar with homemade ice cream (and all the fixings) is always a hit!
A trip to Felix Neck is another recommended spring pilgrimage. Felix Neck is an Audubon Sanctuary and open year round; but as I am a
wimp in the cold Southerner at heart, I tend to avoid outdoor activities in January and February. Spring is a great time to explore their four miles of nature trails and look for signs of new life. Along the way, some of us enjoy the impressive views of woodlands, meadows, and ponds, as well as a salt marsh and barrier beach. I say some of us, because younger visitors don’t seem to slow down from chasing wildlife long enough to enjoy the scenery. Everyone can enjoy the peace after the little ones are worn out, however! The Nature Center and Discovery Room at Felix Neck is also worth a visit. They now have an “owl cam” to see barn owls nesting in their barn dormer.
What are your favorite spring time traditions? I’d love to hear your ideas to add to the list and hope to see you spending some fun family time on Martha’s Vineyard soon!