Selected from nature writings published on the Gazette editorial page in 2012:
No winter to speak of — at least so far — at least not what we have steeled ourselves for with the harsh weather conditions in the last few years.
The most striking thing about this winter is not the lack of snow or ice, but the abundant sunshine. The Island is awash in winter light this year; it illuminates bare tree lines and casts deep shadows across tawny fields in early morning and late afternoon. The Vineyard landscape this winter is fit for an Edward Hopper painting.
As May days begin this week, the mayflowers have gone by and lilacs are already in bloom. Confusion reigns in the natural world this year. Will we have blueberries in June?
Likely not; cool temperatures and a much-needed misty rain blanketed the Vineyard and the pale pink blossoms on wild apple trees that dot fields, and wildlife sanctuaries looked fat and happy.
This must be May after all.
It’s a glorious year for roses, perhaps due to the drenching late spring rains and misty cool temperatures that have alternated with brilliant warm sunshine this year. Picket fences in downtown Edgartown are no longer visible beneath layers and layers of roses. They nod at streetwalkers, pose a distraction for drivers and practically command those with iPhones: Stop and take a picture. Now, while the light is just right.
The June air is scented with roses that lift our spirits all the way to July.
Summer’s on the wane, outgoing ferries are full, incoming ferries less so, and the sun sets earlier these days. It’s time to look around and say where did the summer go? It went the way all summers do, too fast.
But like footprints in the sand, the memories stay, at least for a little while. Long walks on the beach in June before the water had warmed enough to take the plunge, berry-picking in the dry heat of July, fish dinners with corn on the cob and homemade pie during the downpours that finally came in August.
This is the sweet spot of summer, after the fair and the fireworks, before it’s time to really think about back to school for the children. Warm ocean water beckons (see swimming), summer friends are still here for one last dinner, a few blackberries remain for one last picking.
Then comes Labor Day, but not yet.
Not quite yet.
An empty shoreline is starkly beautiful for walking along sandy pathways hardened by storm-driven ocean washovers. The Edgartown Light blinks its red beacon, the tall white tower set against an encroaching night sky. Bay scallop shells washed clean by the sea decorate the wrackline, stirring memories of years when children were little and the shells made good ornaments for crooked Christmas trees cut by hand in the woods.
In the near distance, warm yellow light spills from the porch and every window of the Harbor View Hotel. Old-fashioned lamps that were installed a few years ago by a thoughtful, generous neighborhood form a long, elegant line on a harborfront streetscape. Empty now of parked cars and strolling people, North Water street is a scene from Currier and Ives minus the snow. A hardworking gardener at a sprawling, shuttered summer home ends his day with a broom, offering a cheerful greeting to a passerby.
The first wreath of the season has been hung on a door. Tomorrow is December.
And in the waning hours of November, the harbor lights offer a friendly wink and perhaps a solemn nod to the advent of a new season.