Holiday Snapshots

Two trips to the beach, one family bike ride, three dinners out and roughly eighty-one holes of golf. One trip to the bookstore, one rainy day lunch. A couple of hours of pickup basketball at the Oak Bluffs School gymnasium. A game of Scrabble with an old friend (the President won). A quiet conversation with New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg around the links at the Vineyard Golf Club. A plate of fried shrimp and a cold beer overlooking the busy Oak Bluffs harbor on an August day.

These are the stats of the Obama family vacation on the Vineyard this year which, by all accounts and whatever your political leanings, was a success. A Gazette photographer captured the President on the eighth green at Mink Meadows last week in an unposed moment that called to mind a line from the great Jackson Browne song Fountain of Sorrow: “At the moment that my camera happened to find you, there was just a trace of sadness in your eyes . . .” The camera happened to find President Obama with his guard down, relaxed and smiling to himself, perhaps a little sad and vulnerable and also visibly aged from last summer.

It was a moving reminder that he is human, after all, and that the strains of his job are showing. Republicans rejoice. Democrats wince. Reader comments, please post here.

On Sunday morning Mr. Obama’s second vacation on the Vineyard as a sitting President ended just as it began: quietly and with little fanfare as the motorcade sped down the West Tisbury Road carrying the Obamas to a waiting Marine One at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport on a brilliant late-summer day. Before boarding Air Force One in Bourne at Cape Cod Air Station, the President shook hands with a gathered contingent of Cape Codders.

If the President returns to the Vineyard next year for his vacation, it would be nice to see that familiar rope line return at the airport here. It would be a small but nonetheless important gesture by the White House that shows some recognition for the Islanders who graciously host the President and his contingent each summer.

And then who knows how the camera might happen to find him?