Snow fell last weekend, softly blanketing woodlands and rural roads and dusting skim ice on coastal ponds. Saturday morning the air was still and the landscape sparkled. Early-day outgoing ferries were filled with chattering Islanders, bundled, mitttened and mufflered, on their way to mainland shopping, city concerts and visits with grandchildren.

Three days later the snow had been washed away by rain and temperatures turned mild again, favoring bay scallopers and winter walkers.

The winter solstice was Thursday.

Christmas is Monday.

Summer houses are shuttered now, but the Vineyard is decked out for the holiday, with twinkling lights up-Island and down. Garlands and greenery festoon fences, fishing sheds and barn doors. Even the natural world is colored for the season, with American holly and winterberry dotting the bare-branched landscape with splashes of red and green.

At the Gazette office in Edgartown, Mariko Kawaguchi’s handsome handmade wreath hangs on the front door, a peaceful symbol of the season. The staff has been working away on another weekly edition, fortified by homemade cookies during what is traditionally the two quietest weeks of the year for news. Most government meetings are cancelled, replaced by holiday parties, caroling and cozy dinners with friends and family.

The angels at the Red Stocking fund have finished their wrapping and gift delivery to the many Island children in need and for whom there would otherwise be no Christmas. The Vineyard owes these volunteers a large debt of thanks for the work they do each year, making life better for so many. They have earned a much-deserved rest.

Other acts of generosity abound. One Island couple this week went to Windemere, the Island’s only nursing home, and piled as many residents as were able into a bus for a sightseeing tour of holiday lights. No doubt one highlight of the tour was Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs with its spectacular display. Or perhaps the tree floating in Sunset Lake. Or the Coast Guard station in Menemsha.

In Vineyard Haven harbor the wooden schooners Shenanodah and Alabama are sporting Christmas trees high in their masts, a reminder of the Island’s long maritime heritage.

This is the season for gazing at the water, and wondering perhaps what lies beyond in the year ahead.

With so much turmoil in the world, the Vineyard feels more than ever like a snug harbor, a place where the storm-tossed seas feel a bit calmer. Islanders deal with the same worries, hardships and tragedies as mainlanders, but have the solace of nature to temper them.

And snow or no snow, what better time than to find a quiet corner and read the richly spare verse of Robert Frost. In his poem Christmas Trees, A Christmas Circular Letter, the American poet writes:

The city had withdrawn into itself

And left at last the country to the country;

When between whirls of snow not come to lie

And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove

A stranger to our yard who looked the city,

Yet did in country fashion in that there

He sat and waited till he drew us out,

. . . He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;

My woods — the young fir balsams like a place

Where houses all are churches and have spires.

I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas trees.

I doubt if I was tempted for a moment

To sell them off their feet to go in cars

And leave the slope behind the house all bare,

Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon . . .

A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!

Worth three cents more to give away than sell,

As may be shown by a simple calculation.

Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.

I can’t help wishing I could send you one

In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Sending out warmest wishes to Gazette readers near and far — down the chimney or otherwise — for a merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Please remember not to drink and drive.