Fall’s Last Call

The final days of autumn bring a hard clarity to the Vineyard. Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, whose branches trace black lace against the sky. When the sun shines cold and bright and the wind blows hard out of the northwest the water between the chops turns a deep green jade, topped by foaming whitecaps. Intrepid sea ducks surf the waves like so many boys of summer. Above the soft brown of the Island shoreline, a light blue sky rests like a theatrical backdrop.

And as Islanders pile on sweaters and scarves and fleece jackets, the absence of foliage places other Vineyard dwellers in an even sharper light: a line of birds perched on the golden weathervane atop the Federated Church in Edgartown, a squirrel scampering over a Vineyard Haven lawn, clutching one more nut for burial. The steely gray of winter stands waiting in the wings while the late autumn sun races through bare limbs, casting the Island in stark, chilled light.