Tuesdays Will be Different

The fall equinox arrived last week; today September ends. The weather has been changeable with buckets of rain and intermittent sun. The warmth of summer lingers. Tropical storms from the south have brushed across the Island with their remnants, bringing heavy seas and plenty of seaweed to put on the garden for next year.

Today also marks the last Tuesday paper until next June. For the next eight months we still will be with you on Fridays, and throughout the week online at mvgazette.com, with all the best news coverage and advertising that Gazette readers have come to expect and depend on in their community newspaper.

Meanwhile, a forgotten essay published at the back of the Martha’s Vineyard Cookbook, second edition, makes a fitting epilogue for the moment. Credit goes to the authors, Jean Stewart Wexler and the late Louise Tate King.

Summer is over. The signs on the shops have been taken down and the No Trespassing signs nailed up. Shutters are closed on the summer houses; chains hang across roadways; gates are closed. Out at Squibnocket, the rocks roll in on the rising tides and begin covering the summer sand; and the only sounds heard there besides the wash of the water and the crying of the gulls is the occasional plop of a few handfuls of sand as little by little the precious, coveted sea cliffs of Martha’s Vineyard erode in the wet wind and the slashing fall rains, drop to the beach, and wash away forever into the sea. The Island is disappearing; through the millennia to come it will be washed away.

But for the moment — and one hopes for the rest of our time — the Vineyard is safe, at least from a geological standpoint. Radical change, if it occurs, will be brought about by those who live or want to live on it. Only twenty years ago, a sandy, narrow road through the woods would often open out to a broad, tranquil meadow, then a salt marsh, a pond, dunes and the broad sea. Now the road is likely to be posted, broadened, hard-topped. The meadow is crisscrossed with roads and marred by condominiums, and the beach is inaccessible to all but a select few. Yet rum cherries, wild grapes, beach plums, rose hips and late blackberries still hang richly ripe on the moors and in the thickets. Schools of tinker mackerel and pollock swarm in and out of the Great Ponds with the tides. The fat black-faced Canada geese settle in Hillside Farm’s empty cornfield beside the tattered scarecrows and glean the last hard kernels of grain; restless, they take off again and circle aimlessly over West Tisbury in a loose V, then head for Chilmark and the Keith pond, debating noisily en route whether to migrate or count on being fed all winter on Island.

The opulence of fall pervades the Vineyard, as all the people and creatures who live on it and plants and trees that grow on it prepare for the short, cold days of winter. For Martha’s Vineyard is not only a summer place but a place to be born and grow up, a place to live and work and thrive year-round, nourished by the bounty that its soil and shore offer to all who are provident enough to seek and use it.