We are the visited, the indigenous Islanders. We own mansions, castles, thatched huts (there must be at least one somewhere up-Island), garage apartments, condos, converted barns, Spider Shacks (maybe just me), bungalows and bodegas. We own real estate. And they know it. And they are coming.

The arrival of guests and visitors is as inevitable as swimmer’s ear on our Island. The anticipation of their visitations is like rain clouds in a blue summer sky — at once ominous and hopeful. A mixed blessing.

Here they come, full steam ahead. Timothy Johnson

We are not an ungracious lot. We share our toys with the same frequency as most adults. We also recognize the inherent beauty in our surroundings. We are here for a reason, and others want to be here for a similar reason. We get it. But as the familiar bumper sticker is wont to remind, we’re not on vacation. Thus the divide. Because it’s the not the person but the purpose that can be at issue. Work and play. Never the best of friends.

And then there’s simply the issue of ownership. With ownership comes responsibility; with visiting comes . . . well, not much. Those of us that own property here, thatched or otherwise, are like people at the parade who bring their own lawn chairs. We had the foresight to plan ahead and provide a comfortable seat in a beautiful setting, and yes we may sometimes have more chairs than we may be presently using, but are we obligated to share those seats with others? Probably. Of course one can always say no, but the art of no is a craft cultivated through years of experience and not easily learned.

Summer to-do list: Jump of big bridge - check. Timothy Johnson

And we don’t always want or need to say no — sometimes there is nothing quite so enjoyable as a welcome guest. But for the other nine out of ten times, here are a few simple tricks.

Never answer the phone. This is good advice in general — there’s very little good these days on the other end of the line — but of absolute importance when it comes to dodging visitors. An email or a text allows the recipient of a visitation request ample time to consult with their house mates on how best to fabricate the complete, but oh-so-unfortunate impossibility of accommodating extras at that moment in time. No such luxury with the phone. Most often the phone solicitor has some experience in the process (hence their use of the phone), so they will rarely come right to the point and simply ask if they might visit, but rather will inquire as to any reasonably priced lodging in your general vicinity.

Reasonably priced is the key phrase. In the next moment your wife is miming something (looks like “no” or “I am so going to kill you”) while you offer up your guest bedroom, which is also the only place left to put your workout gear and extra kitchen stuff. They know well enough to speak to you, the guy. If a woman answers, they know the drill, just chat a bit, call back if necessary but be sure to eventually get the guy on the phone. We men care more if people like us, and we are relatively untrained in the ways of the mama bear — protect the home at all costs. Thus the word no, which rolls off your fair lady’s tongue like a boulder down a mountain, finds itself mired in the muck of your ego. Wait, wait, wait though, you say. You will handle it. You will be the host. It’ll be easy breezy. Just like that Doberman puppy your daughter swore she’d take care of that now sleeps on your bed and eats your shoes.

I'm so glad I have friends who live on the Vineyard. Let's visit them every summer. Timothy Johnson

Right. So let the phone ring. This isn’t the 1960s; if the person calling is stuck in a mine shaft, they have options, they can leave a message. There is no harm in not answering. Lots of harm in picking up. Okay, dad? Next, be busy. Very, very, very busy. Be stressed out. All the time. This may not be hard to do for some of us. Even the most desperate visitor wants to avoid you in this state. So yes, please, come visit. But you’ll need everyone up by 5 a.m. so you can bring the roosters into the house. And please no talking or loud breathing after 6 p.m,, you need complete quiet while you perform your nightly ritual of tick extraction from your bloodhound. And while you’d love to join them at the beach, you simply cannot because you’re working two jobs to support your bedazzling habit. But they can walk to the bus stop and get transportation to the sand from there. You’ll see them when they get home and they can help you get the roosters out of their suitcases.

Finally, and perhaps the best trick of all: have a newborn. Or two. Or six. Nothing says “stay away” like the piercing and inconsolable shriek of a baby and its father.

There is another class of visitor, much harder to avoid. This type comes earlier and stays longer. But not with you. They not only own their own homes, but own the “place” as well. You know them, they’re the Summer People.

Life's a beach. Timothy Johnson

My grandmother had a porcelain ashtray in her living room that read, “Summer people, summer not.” As a child, I was fascinated by this play on words and was known to wipe out the ashes with a wet paper towel so I could look at the funny scripted words. I once took the thing to bed with me so I could gaze at the words before I slept (this did nothing to increase the faith that my grandparents had in me ever being a normal child).

That ashtray went the way of most relics from the heyday of cigarettes — to the thrift shop shelf (has anyone bought a new ashtray since 1987?) But the sentiment that was baked on remains very much in the forefront of today’s Island consciousness. We still divide ourselves between settlers and visitors — those with winter clothes stuffed in the back of their closets and those whose golf clubs and tennis shoes have free reign in similar spaces. They too are on vacation, with a more settled routine that resembles home life, but on vacation nonetheless. They are not tourists, however! Heavens. Excuse me, they live here. And should you ever confuse the two, remember that the tourist is the one that is much freer with its hello handshake. The summer person? Much more practiced with their “and . . . who are you?” face.

Okay, let’s dial it back a bit now. Let’s admit that we like you. We may even love you, our family and friends and neighbors. And if you didn’t visit, we’d feel like we do when we hope that the approaching passenger on the bus doesn’t sit next to us in the empty seat, but then wonder what’s wrong when they pass us by. We depend on you. You buy our stuff, keep us company, encourage us to look up, look around and realize that we too are on the Vineyard. This is summer. And isn’t it just beautiful?