The Elizabeth Islands are a partially submerged morainal chain of hills which were left by our last glacial period. They are found to the southwest of Woods Hole. Buzzards Bay is to their north, Vineyard Sound to their south. The Elizabeths are privately owned. Access is by boat or small ferry. Since the nineteenth century these islands, with the exception of Cuttyhunk, have been in the hands of an elite group of New England families. Permission to be on these islands comes only from privilege or by invitation of the privileged.

You get a good view of the eastern Elizabeths when you take the ferry to or from Martha’s Vineyard.

 Easternmost of these islands is Nonamessett. Nonamesset is the land which first greets you as you enter the Woods Hole area. One of my favorite sights from the deck of the boat is this silhouetted view of the trees on Nonamessett.

Below: beetlebung silhouettes. Beetlebung like wet feet, so there’s likely some water where these are growing.
For many years, the rolling contours of these islands were kept in field by sheep. The return of the coyote to the Elizabeths has made life difficult for sheep farming. The sheep now have to be carefully enclosed, and no longer have the free run of the place. Once consequence is that blueberry, bayberry, dog rose, wild cherry, cedar, oak, beetlebung, sassafrass, smilax and others are squeezing out formerly extensive pastures.
When you inspect more carefully this at-first-glance-drab landscape, colors begin to emerge.
Reds of buds.
Greens of smilax stem.
Golds of little bluestem stems.
Dusty grays of bayberries.
Browns of oaken scrublands.

Many people like to play with their food. Sometimes photographers play with their images. The picture below is presented with apologies in advance to any who prefer their photos “neat”.


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