The geese are on the move, filling our ears with their noisy clatter overhead and our senses with the season at hand. Soon the migratory shorebirds will begin to take flight too, alerted by their finely tuned inner gyroscopes to the fact that it’s nearly time to head for winter climes. Nearly time too for the thousands of migratory humans who land on the Island every summer to pack up the kids, dogs and beach chairs and head for their mainland homes. Like the shorebirds, summer people are an integral part of the Island and we look forward to their arrival every year. They bring a certain energy, style and sophistication to the Island that acts as a tonic of sorts. And Vineyarders rise to the occasion. In another month we will celebrate the empty parking spaces in village centers, gaze quietly at the footprints in the sand and reflect on the summer just past.
Soon, but not yet.
Summer is slipping away and nature is the best gauge. Blueberries (winter-jam abundant this year) have mostly gone by. Pale yellow seaside goldenrod takes center stage as daisies, butterfly weed and black-eyed Susans bow gently and make their exit. Be back next year to fill the old mason jar for the kitchen table. Beach plums are ripening in the sandy dunes that rim the Island. Shore fishermen are just warming up with the best season still ahead for catching bass, bluefish and bonito.
Perhaps more than ever, summer events have been a blur this year, like watching the Flying Horses carousel in a time-lapse video. But there is more to come and in fact the best time for peak summer event viewing arrives next week, precisely at dusk on Wednesday when the first lanterns are lit for the hundred and forty-sixth Grand Illumination in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground. On Thursday the four-day Agricultural Fair begins in West Tisbury, running through the weekend. Friday marks the annual end-of-summer fireworks display in Oak Bluffs, when the night sky over Ocean Park will be streaked with the brilliant display of some of the best pyrotechnics in the business.
These events are the cornerstones of late summer and meant to be savored, like the last lobster dinner, last swim, last sunset. When they are over, summer is officially on the wane.
Meanwhile, where do the geese go these days? From one big field to the next, much as we can figure, since they are no longer migratory. They are winter birds, like us, and stick around all year long.