This is my inaugural blog post! If this were a boat, I'd call it the S.S. It's About Time! and break a bottle of champagne on her hull. That is to say - I've been meaning to do this for a loooong time. Well, I'm finally here!
Let's make the introductions, shall we? :)
M, my name is Maggie, my store is Beach Plum Cottage. I live in Massachusetts - Martha's Vineyard to be exact. A lot of people have intense reactions to the words MV. They conjure up images of the rich and famous, a presidential playground for the summer season. And that's not entirely false - there are a good number of wealthy, and celebrities who come to visit us, but they give the island a bad rep.
This place is, at its core, a farming and fishing community. When the summer ends and all the rich and famous go back to their homes in New York and California, the rest of us hunker down and get work done. Islanders go back to herding sheep, bringing in crab and lobster traps, they busy themselves in their winter studios painting, creating, working their trades... trying to make a living the way that they have done since the 1600's. Yep, we were settled loooong before most of the rest of the country, and some of the byways and farms are still named after their original inhabitants.
We are an island of honest, hard-working folks who definitely did not grow up with a silver spoon in mouth. We live relatively simple lives, free of any chain stores and fast food restaurants. Heck, we don't even have a stop light! I haven't seen a freeway on-ramp or heard a car horn in three months... since I was last on the main-land, of course. Life around here moves reaaaaal slow, the way it probably did in the olden days. We stop to smell the roses, we stop traffic for families of guinea hens crossing the road.
A sailboat lazily bobs up and down just offshore in Aquinnah
But because of our tourism-based nature, high cost of real estate, most of us live a pretty intense life. The cost of living here is 60% higher than the national average - as all of our goods have to be ferried over on a boat. Housing here is 96% above the national average and gas is steady around $4.50/gallon. Fine for the vacationing folks who come here from the Jersey Shore to spend their money on a summer vacation, but for whose of us who try to eke out a living year-round, it gets tough, so you have to get creative. Many people who own beautiful homes will move out, and live out of their car or a friend's bedroom for four months, just to rent our their house to tourists during the "high season". We lovingly refer to this as "the Island Shuffle" - trying to make the most of what you've got, while you can.
As a result of all of these things, island living has made me into a very simplistic person. If I don't need to drive somewhere, I don't. If I can get there by walking, I use my Chevro-legs. We cook all of our meals at home instead of going out to eat or grabbing a burger - simply because there ARE no burger joints! And OH BOY, is crafting is an adventure...
Instead of going to A.C. Moore, Michael's or Jo-Ann Fabrics like many of you all do, there is not a craft store on Martha's Vineyard. Instead, I order EVERYTHING online, especially my supplies for my Etsy store.
I "window shop" by making online shopping bags full of stuff. I go to the company site for Red Heart, and end up with about $200 worth of various colors of yarn and crochet thread in my basket. Of course, I can't afford to buy everything I see, but its nice to dream, right?
I end up buying a lot of yarn at once and then parceling it out as I go. I try not to break into a new skein until I've found a purpose for every bit of the last color. I up-cycle fabric, I re-use scraps and I invent new homes for found buttons and other tid-bits.
Where some people see a lost random button, I see the feature for a new flower headband.
Where someone sees a colorful bit of leftover yarn, I see a new shell for snail friend.
Since I order just about everything online and I live on a rural route where the postman doesn't leave packages, I get lots of little orange notifications. I walk the half-mile down the dusty dirt lane to the main road where my mailbox is. I open it and see a little orange slip of paper with my name on it! Happy day - this means that something I've ordered online is coming in today! *clicks heels together*
As I drive to the post office, passing rolling green sheep pastures overlooking a briny pond next to the sea, I wonder what I'll be picking up today. A box of yarn? Hot glue sticks? That order of ribbons that I placed in April? I drive to the Chilmark Post Office and I have to brake and wait for a group of wild turkeys to pass.
Hydrangeas frame an old cedar shingle Cape style house... Quintessential Vineyard
This is my little island life. I live. I craft. I take pictures of wild turkeys and trees and flowers.
And now, I share it with you. :)
Come visit me at my Etsy shop, won't you?