July Days

The last of the summer hay has been cut and baled. Swallows swoop around the farm fields, feasting on crickets and insects in the grassy stubble. The terrier chases the swallows in endless wide circles. The midday sun is hot now, the ocean water cold and perfect for swimming after a dusty morning spent leaning on the mower.

Near shore, recreational fishermen haul in fat striped bass and bluefish on bendy graphite rods. Day sailers tack about in gusty summer breezes. There have been good swells at the beaches recently; a hurricane named Bertha is fussing around somewhere off Bermuda, the first notable tropical storm of the season.

In the moist woods on the north side of the Island, swamp azalea is in full bloom, heady, lush and fragrant. In the dry coastal sandplains on the south side high and lowbush blueberries are ready for picking. Tiny, sweet-tart wild blueberries are incomparably better than their cultivated counterparts; it is time to find a spot, get picking and bake a pie. Wild blueberry pie is a simple, unadulterated affair — a good homemade butter crust, half a cup or so of raw sugar, a few gratings of fresh lemon, and of course the blueberries — dusky, inky and still warm from the sun. Baked and served warm with spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt — this is Vineyard summer ambrosia.

And July days stretch on.