Out in the real world, the ebb and flow of the seasons are nature-based. Mother Nature does her thing and coats are pulled out of storage each winter, shorts and flip-flops resurrected come spring, or summer for those not as itchy to feel the grass beneath their toes.

Here on the Vineyard, though, seasonal shifts mean so much more than just the rise and fall of mercury in the thermometer. During the off-season, commerce catches a cold and takes to the bed. Three cheers for those businesses that do leave the light on during the quiet darkness that is the Island in winter.

An annual return to reflecting by the fire and putting the brakes on busyness is not all bad, though. The human battery does need recharging after all. And yet it does get lonely, too. Where else but the Vineyard in February does a potluck dinner rise to a royal invitation.

Which brings us to the present moment: bellying up to Thursday burger nights, sampling a sticky bun outside yet another store just reopened and reading up-to-date bulletin boards advertising local feasts, spring recitals and an Island girl looking for summer housing in exchange for gardening and pet care.

That there are once again more food options around the Island is a plus. But more hearty fare is the restorative feeling that comes with feeling we are no longer quite as alone.