The four of us — my three adult kids and I — walked from our Vineyard front door to our adjoining field, surrounded by ancient oak woods. It was dark out, and we lit some logs in a small fire pit and settled in chairs. We were there to say a last goodbye.

After a quarter century on this property, it was our final night.

I had done my best to hold onto it after the divorce, and did for five years, but I knew the time would come and now it had. I’d bought it as raw acreage in 1989 — one of those deep-woods Vineyard parcels at the end of a two-mile dirt road fronting a barrier-beach Great Pond. It was wild land with no driveway, so when we were first shown it, we had to bushwhack to the shore.

Other nearby parcels had scrubby cover but this one was shielded up a cove on loamier soil, so the trees were taller than I expected. That’s what first sold me. Over the years, I would never get tired of the contrast — stepping from the sunny waterfront into the cool oak canopy.

I stood there now with the realtor, first looking up-cove at still water framed by woods, then down-cove with its mile-long view to the ocean barrier. For long minutes, I took it in. It was almost as if the land itself was saying, “Welcome home.”

We started with a small house in 1991, then added to it five years later. We built a boathouse too, decorating its walls with found buoys, horseshoe crabs and children’s outgrown water shoes.

We made trails through the trees and a field for play. But most of the acreage we left wild, respecting the woods that had been wilderness forever. Except now, in the middle of it, there was a family.

It’s not where we lived but it got inside of us the way second properties do because it’s where we escaped.

Being an isolated parcel, our closest neighbors were unlikely ones, like the otters who would pop up to check us out. Ocean seals did the same — so predictably I’m convinced they felt our footsteps on the barrier beach.

Others were more skeptical, like the red-tailed hawk who was clearly mayor of the woods. And the two ospreys, who made a fuss when we kayaked by, but got credit from my jock sons for being the best athletes they’d ever seen — you try diving 60 miles an hour to grab a zigzagging fish.

We were a city family so it was at first different being so isolated. A 20-ish niece staying there with friends once called the police to head off an intruder who proved to be an innocent bush scratching the house. And it probably didn’t help that a few times, I kept them in line by saying the Great Pond Wild Man would come out of the woods and get them if they didn’t behave.

But mostly, the seclusion was a gift, and a teacher too. We learned that on cloudless nights, the stars were as compelling as anything at the Edgartown cinemas. So were Vineyard storms, which we’d watch from front-row seats on the porch.

On the other hand, it wasn’t cheap getting all those branches cleaned up afterward, a reminder that owning a second home on an Island isn’t always easy.

Respites, I learned, can also be masters. Pipes break, skylights leak and you can’t just drive away on Sundays — it takes hours to shut the place down. We had to fight ferries, summer crowds, airport fog, ticks, poison ivy, sharp oysters, dead outboards, the calling cards of geese, and at last count, the score was skunks 10, family dogs zero.

But the Vineyard’s gifts far outweighed all that. The greatest gift: when a place is hard to get to, the world is held at bay and it’s just you, and yours and the company you’re closest to.

Admittedly, as the kids got into their late teens, those visits at times led to discoveries of hidden bags of empty beer cans. But as I sat now around the fire pit with my daughter and sons, today 29, 26 and 23, we spoke of the richer moments we will miss the most. Like kayaking up primeval coves where the warm pond water turns cold from springs. Like mountain biking through woods that surprisingly open into meadow-like frost-bottoms. Like skating across the Great Pond after the water froze in a still wind that left a flat surface. Like the times long ago I’d wade into the cove with one of them on my shoulders to discover creatures at night.

The property even helped them through hard things. Months after the divorce, I found a plastic chair my youngest had carried into the woods where he would sometimes sit alone. I know it was mostly to grieve but I like to think the peace of our land helped him heal as well. That’s what we talked about there in the field surrounded by ancient oaks. We stayed until the last log was gone. No one wanted to call it a night because we knew it was our last. The next morning, we had to leave by 10. Just before, we went down to our little waterfront and sat quietly, looking at the view to the barrier. My daughter shot some last pictures, here where she had taken a thousand others before. My older son strummed some final chords on his guitar, here on his favorite spot to play.

Then it was time.

My youngest, my ballplayer, picked up a stone and gave it a heave. He has a good arm; it plunked halfway across our cove. No one talked as the sound echoed. We headed back up our path under the treed canopy I so loved at first sight.

The ferry was waiting, and so were our mainland lives, and perhaps, I now thought, with the kids far-flung, it was time anyway — for a new family to have what we did here. I told them to get in the car, then stopped in the kitchen and left a note for the new owners. It said, “Welcome home.”

Mark Patinkin lives in Providence, R.I.