On the farm fields that ring the Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury, the hay has been cut and baled save two fields still thick with thigh-high grasses and vetch that is a riot of purple blossoms. The pastoral scene evokes memories of the homesteading era on the Island when a fresh crop of young back-to-the-landers built their own houses, grew their own food and raised their young families. That was nearly half a century ago. Martha’s Vineyard has grown and changed since then, but like the vetch, the Island happily thrives in the summer sun. It remains a rare place, where people from all backgrounds come together for three short months to rest, work and reconnect with friends and family.

Now another June has come and gone, and already the Vineyard is filling up for the Fourth of July — the true start of summer. All the signs are in place for a busy season ahead: ferries are booked solid, the airport is a bustling thoroughfare and traffic jams are springing up overnight in all the usual spots.

Islanders accustomed to the far slower pace of the off season are making their annual adjustment, driving more defensively, on the lookout for children on bikes and tourists trying to navigate narrow unfamiliar streets, many of them laid out in the days when horse and buggy was the primary mode of public transportation.

The streets of down-Island towns are a colorful wash of summer people wandering the shops, ice creams in hand. Up-Island, the white flowers of June — bridal wreath, daisies, fleabane and lily of the valley — are fading now, replaced by pink and red wild roses that climb along stone walls, yellow coreopsis and orange daylilies that line roadsides and old gardens.

Out on the Sound sailboats tack about, heeled over in the brisk winds that have buffeted the Island this year. Fish are running and the cold saltwater is an angler’s delight, full of fluke, bluefish and striped bass.

The summer calendar is also full — overflowing in fact with so many art openings, film premieres, concerts, lectures, fundraising galas and other events for the next eight weeks that one person would be hard pressed to attend them all. Instead we pick and choose, leaving time to rake a bucket of quahaugs to go with the lobster someone brought for dinner, or go for a long a swim in the cold ocean water.

That’s still summer at its best.

The Island will pause for the national holiday this coming Wednesday. There will be parades, picnics, baseball games and flags flying from every corner. At nightfall fireworks will explode over the outer Edgartown harbor, celebrating the two hundred and forty second birthday of the United States of America.

The simple traditions that are the hallmark of Independence Day on the Island stand in contrast to far more complicated feelings about patriotism and the state of the country. Each day our nation seems to slip further away from that unity of purpose that gave our forefathers the strength and resolve to revolt against an oppressive government. Today, the Declaration of Independence, always a radical document, reads more like a challenge than a justification for the country we now inhabit.

There’s a discipline to living on a small Island where proximity and mutual dependence is a constant reminder that conflict among people is inevitable, but conciliation is critical. There was once a time when the country as a whole accepted compromise as an article of faith, but that day is long past.

Even as we worry for the future of our democracy, we send out good wishes to all the Gazette readers near and far for a happy, safe Fourth of July. Please remember not to drink and drive.