Last swim in the ocean. First fire in the fireplace. Tomatoes simmering on the stove, ready for the freezer or canning jars. Ditto apples and beach plums. Fishermen silhouetted on the shoreline, casting into the silvery light of a harvest moon.

These are the benchmarks of September, the month when seasons shift along with the rhythms of Island life. The hectic pace of August is just a memory now, replaced by the decidedly more measured pace of fall. Warm sunlight remains abundant but summery days are fleeting and everyone feels it.

The first day of fall is Sunday. Where did another season go? And where did we stash the sweaters when it was so hot all we could think about was sitting in front of the fan?

For many Islanders this can be a time, too, of emotional fragility. The external shift in seasons, waning daylight and oncoming cold weather are accompanied by internal shifts in mood. We would do well to pay close attention to these shifts and be aware of the changes they produce in our well being. Just like the busyness of summer, the oncoming isolation of winter requires advance preparation to maintain optimal health. And although outwardly quiet, the Vineyard in the off-season is chockablock with community activities, many of them costing little or no money. There are intellectually stimulating programs at the town libraries, physically invigorating walks on conservation lands and nourishing community soup suppers at Island places of worship.

Volunteer opportunities abound, involving people of all ages.

As the first frost settles over green fields and another off-season begins, it’s time to think about taking extra good care of ourselves and our neighbors. Because now, finally, there is time for that.