Where have all the flowers gone? The line from the old Pete Seeger folk song is a fitting metaphor for the Vineyard as one season comes to an end and another one begins.
Labor Day weekend has arrived. Summer residents and visitors are packing the cars, taking one last swim, sweeping sand from the cottage before closing the door on another Vineyard summer.
Islanders are taking a deep breath and getting ready to know their neighbors again. Catching up with old friends. Reorganizing the children for back to school (read: earlier bedtimes). Getting out the fishing rods, waders and clam rakes. Preparing for the next season.
So what kind of summer was it?
Busy by most accounts, although there are no hard numbers yet for ferry and airline traffic and hotel room occupancy. But anecdotally speaking, it felt like the Vineyard maintained some measure of balance this summer. Rain and sunshine fell in equal parts. There was plenty of wind for sailing. July was hot, a little too hot. August cooled down, a little too fast. After a winter of severe storms and erosion, ruined shorelines began to heal, a boon to beachcombers and bare feet. Traffic was bad at times and a spate of mishaps served as a reminder that the Vineyard is a place to slow down and be hyper-vigilant on the road in summer. Sales were brisk at restaurants and shops, farms and fish markets. Islanders worked long hours to put some money in the bank for the lean months ahead. Visitors brought their buzzing mainland energy and doused the Island with their love of the place.
Of course besides marking the end of summer, Labor Day is a celebration of the contributions and achievements of some one hundred and fifty-five million men and women who are employed in the U.S..
On the Vineyard there are an estimated fifteen thousand people in the workforce, including seasonal workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Many of those seasonal workers are leaving now, and that means many businesses will be short-handed even though there will be plenty of shoulder season visitors around in the weeks and months ahead. So be kind to that person behind the counter — it may well be the weary business owner running her own cash register.
The Gazette sends out warm wishes on Labor Day to all our readers near and far.
The newspaper staff will take their own first break of the summer on Monday, when the Gazette office will be closed in observance of the national holiday. The office will reopen Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, with an affectionate nod to Pete Seeger, we can mark summer by its flowers. Oxeye daisies in June, brushed across fields and meadows like a French Impressionist painting. Orange daylilies in July meandering along roadsides with a backdrop of lichen-covered stone walls. Creamy Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot) and her live-in cousin blue chicory in August, braving the dust and heat as summer begins to wane.
Here comes September and already fields and shoreside places are awash in warm-hued goldenrod, soon to be punctuated by fall asters and the occasional stray wild rose, a stubborn summer holdout.
July and August are recent memories; the best of autumn lies ahead.