SEVENTHE ISLANDFrom Growth to Sufficiency

I hold the e-mailed printout of directions in one hand as I steer with the other. Left after Kingdom Hall, three-tenths of a mile on a dirt road, left at the Red Arrow Road sign on the tree. Turning onto the dirt road, I find myself driving through a forest that feels odd, but it takes me a moment to realize why. This stand of oak trees is clearly not young, but the trees have not grown tall. They retain the height of perpetual youth, yet bear the gnarled, wizened countenance of age—their adaptation, my host will later tell me, to the winds on this island of Martha’s Vineyard and to the sandy soil in which they grow.

“Our house is the last one on the left next to the pond,” the note says. I pull into ...

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