How to measure summer? There are countless ways.

Number of beach days. Number of fish caught. Number of ice cream cones and buckets of fried clams consumed. Number of grandchildren who came to visit. Number of sunsets seen. Number of stars in the sky. Number of hours worked.

And as an early morning mist burned off the rolling farm fields in West Tisbury early Thursday, there was suddenly time to reflect on a summer nearly gone by.

It went fast this year, most agree — but perhaps it always does. There was rain but not too much of it, sun but no stifling heat wave, lots of crowds and traffic jams but thankfully no serious accidents or tragedies. Crops were late, with corn and tomatoes only just coming in now at Island farmstands. Summer conversation reflected the national mood: full of worry for the future in a country marked by deepening fault lines on issues of immigration, race and civil rights.

But there were plenty of bright spots too. At the Fourth of July parade in Edgartown patriotism was on full display in all its red, white and blue glory. A month later at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival in early August, literary authors of every stripe convened to celebrate the love of reading. “We are all makers,” the charming author Min Jin Lee told a crowd beneath a tent on the lawn of the Chilmark Community Center on a bright, breezy Sunday, and the words carried a lingering after glow of hope and inspiration.

There was the thrill of seeing an eclipse and the odd crescent shadows it cast on a sunny afternoon sidewalk. There were occasional glimpses of Barack and Michelle Obama at dinner, at the golf course and at yoga, the former first couple now able to move more freely around an Island that has always granted its celebrities some measure of peace.

Labor Day is Monday, the unofficial end of summer, and already the annual Island exodus is well under way. Outgoing ferries are jammed to the gunwales with cars, bikes, people and dogs. Traffic is noticeably lighter on Island roads and parking spaces are suddenly available in down-Island towns. Beaches and ponds await fall fishermen and bay scallopers. Vineyard school children return to their classrooms on Tuesday. Islanders look forward to getting to know their neighbors again.

In the coffee shops there is chatter among seasonal foreign workers about their next stop: Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C., Africa. Like the birds that fly south for the winter, they are our summer pals and we grow fond of them. They’re here today, gone tomorrow. But that is the rhythm of a seasonal community.

And now September begins.

The nature essayist Hal Borland wrote:

“September is the year at the turn, a young mother sending her children off to school and wondering if she can ever catch up with summer tasks unfinished. It is autumn at hand and summer reluctant to leave; it is days loud with cicadas and nights loud with katydids; it is beets for pickling and pears for canning and apples for pies and sauce and cider. It is hot days and cool nights and hurricane and flood and deep hurt and high triumph.

“September is both more than a month and less, for it is almost a season in itself. It is flickers in restless flocks, readying for migration; it is goldfinches in thistledown; it is fledglings on the wing, and half grown rabbits in the garden, and lambs in the feed lot. It is the gleam of goldenrod and the white and lavender and purple of fence row asters, with the bright spangle of bittersweet berries.

“September is time hastening and days shortening, it is the long nights of autumn closing in with their big stars and glinting moon. September is the wonder and fulfillment and the ever-amazing promise of another autumn.”

Happy Labor Day to all Gazette readers near and far. Thanks for the summer memories — let’s do it again next year.