Early summer arrived like a small lurch on the Vineyard this year, as if someone had hit the gas pedal a little too hard. Clear June days with warm sunshine and cool evenings beneath star-splashed inky skies are in the rearview mirror now, replaced by the heat and humidity that portend the long, lazy beach days of July. The landscape is dry and muted with fewer wildflowers than usual due to lack of rain. And everywhere you look, the pace of life has changed. Island roads that were sparsely traveled just a few short months ago are suddenly jammed with cars, bikes and motorcycles of every description. Harbors and waterways are dotted with sailboats, motorboats, kayaks and windsurfers. Ferries are full, retail shops and restaurants are busy and many signs point to a busy, prosperous summer ahead on the Island. On Wednesday night as the sun sank in a hazy western sky, a roadside chalkboard at a small farm stand in West Tisbury told the story: Sold Out.

Today is Independence Day, the quintessential red, white and blue American holiday that celebrates the birth of our country and the signing of the Declaration of Independence two hundred and thirty-eight years ago. What would the founding forefathers think of the country today, so vastly changed some two and a half centuries later, beset by so many complicated problems and yet still America the beautiful, land of the free and brave.

On the Island the national holiday will be celebrated with parades large and small, fireworks, picnics and beach parties, but at press time this week many of the festivities had already been postponed until Saturday due to a tropical storm moving up the coast. The storm is predicted to stay well offshore, but douse the Island with rain. The Edgartown parade and fireworks have been rescheduled for tomorrow. The parade steps off at five o’clock sharp in downtown Edgartown, and the fireworks display over the town harbor will begin at dusk.

Sadly, a happy week full of anticipation leading up to the festive Fourth has been marred by an early summer fatality. On Wednesday afternoon a twenty-two-year-old Oak Bluffs summer resident was killed when the moped he was driving collided with a pickup truck on State Road in Chilmark. Police said the accident was just that, an accident, and no charges will be filed. Nonetheless, a person is dead, an extended Oak Bluffs family is in mourning and the incident serves as a stark reminder that extra caution is needed at all times for the twelve weeks a year when the Vineyard is at its most crowded — and most dangerous.

The Gazette sends out warm wishes to all its readers near and far for a safe and happy Fourth of July.