August 22, 2014 - Sonny Boy and Max - taken last year at the 2013 Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair
In memory of Sonny Boy who died this past winter, and a little history on his breed for those who might be curious.
Sonny Boy has the classic look and coat color of a Percheron draft horse, although there are many that are grey also. It is said that all modern Percherons originated out of the the province of La Perche in France, and can be traced back to just one stud, Jean le Blanc, but earlier types go way back in history.
They are intelligent and of a gentle nature. Their average height at the withers is 6’ with the head towering over that, and can weigh 2600lbs or more. All these attributes are what led them throughout history to be used as war horses to pull heavy artillery, and in medieval times to carry armor-clad knights riding into battle, and for many other things.
They played a very crucial role in transportation of all kinds, hauling freight, pulling omnibuses, stage coaches, mail coaches, and carriages. In the 19th century, the Percherons with a grey coat were preferred for pulling fancy carriages, as can be seen in many paintings from that time.
They were absolutely essential for agriculture everywhere they were found, pulling plows and farming equipment and clearing land. The first Percheron was brought to the US in 1839, and thousands more were imported from France over the rest of the 19th century. They became one of the most popular draft horses for farmers in the US. I read that by the 1930’s over 70% of all draft horses in the United States were Percherons.
As a Percheron, Sonny Boy carried a lot of history through his lineage. Over centuries the Percheron draft horse and its ancestors worked closely with man. They went to war with men, carried knights into battle, hauled people and goods to their destinations in both cities and towns, cleared land for people to build homes, and cleared fields and plowed them for people to raise food. They played a very crucial, and absolutely essential role here in the early development of the United States, and we owe them a lot.
Sonny Boy was breathtaking in size, and gentle in nature. The Fair will not be the same without him. He will be missed by me, and no doubt many others who got to meet him at the Fair.
August 21, 2014
Today is the opening day of the annual Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair which runs through Sunday.
Each year The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society asks artists to send in art work to be considered for that year’s poster for the Fair. A selection is made, and then the theme for the Fair that year is chosen. The artwork chosen this year for the poster is the one you see above here on the Fair booklet, and based on that image the theme chosen this year is “Sharing Fair Memories”.
I really like the image they chose this year, and was curious as to who painted it. I found out the name of the artist, but also found out that there is a story behind this particular image which makes it even more meaningful. The image was taken from an oil painting done by the artist Omar Rayyan. The horse in the painting is the large black Percheron draft horse, Sonny, who was owned by Bruce Marchard here on the Island.
Sonny Boy, and his companion draft horse, Max, have been a big part of the Fair for years, at least it seems that way to me. I have taken quite a few photos of them over the years.
The sad part of this story is that during one of the fierce snowstorms of this past year’s brutally cold, miserable winter, Sonny Boy had a heart attack and died. However, that sad event was followed by a touchingly warm gesture towards Sonny Boy’s owner, Bruce, by the artist who painted Sonny’s image so many years before. At the horse’s burial, Omar Rayyan gave the painting, as a gift of remembrance of this beautiful horse, to Bruce, who apparently was incredibly moved by this gesture, and very happy to have it.
When the call this year went out for artists to start sending in artwork to be considered for this year’s Fair poster, Sonny’s owner Bruce thought that an image of Omar’s painting might make a great Fair poster, and after conferring with Omar, it was sent in, and was chosen to be the image for this year. It is a really wonderful image, and I think one of the best Fair posters I have seen.
It was really sad to hear about what happened to Sonny Boy, and sad that for the first time in years he will missing at this year’s Fair, but I was touched by the story behind this image, and by the thoughtful and kind gesture of the artist towards Sonny’s owner. And besides..it makes a great Fair poster.
In few minutes I will be on my way up to the Fair with my little nieces to check out the things that are happening up there today, and also to see if any of us have won anything with our entries.
Of course, all the kids are talking about are the rides :)
Aug 9, 2014
The sky over the Vineyard went suddenly quiet at around 11:45am, in anticipation of the President’s arrival today with his family, sometime after noon. The quietness was startling and welcome since on a weekends there tends to be a lot of air traffic flying in and out of here. You really notice how much when suddenly it stops.
The silence was broken a little while later by a large jet crossing over the Island at a lower altitude than most jets of that size, which most likely was Air Force One heading over to Otis Air Force base on Cape Cod. They then take a Marine helicopter over to the Island. Sometimes they fly in loud formation right over my house, but that is easy to do because the Island is small. Very dramatic though when it happens. From now until Aug 24, there will be a temporary 30 nautical mile air restriction over the Island, which will bring a lot of welcome quiet to the summer skies of August.
Aug 4, 2014 - Casa Blanca lilies just off my front porch -it had been raining and the sun had just come out
I am not sure what got into these lilies this year but they grew to almost 6’, with anywhere from 8-10 large white blossoms on each stalk. They are way out of proportion to anything else in this flower border at the moment, but are amazing to look at, and give off the most extraordinary scent which permeates the air all around them, and being so close to the house the scent drifts in there too.