After a snowless winter, spring has arrived slowly this year with copious amounts of rain and chilly temperatures that have kept Islanders bundled in winter coats, even as daylight began to stretch long into the evening hours.

There’s a chill around the edges still thanks to the cold ocean water, but the air is softening, the landscape lush and green. Spring bulbs are rapidly fading, succeeded by lily of the valley, bells of Ireland and buttercups. Apple and cherry trees are thick with blossoms — a Coast Guard helicopter landing at Menemsha for a demonstration last weekend touched down amid a shower of pink petals on a windy day.

Farmers are thankful that the last frost has passed. Already a first cut of hay is down in West Tisbury. Island farmstands are piled high with early spring crops: spinach, radishes, asparagus and new onions. Soon there will be strawberries, peas and new potatoes.

On the waterfront, tackle shops are doing a brisk business, putting new line on custom rods that have been stored all winter, and dispensing gear and advice to first-time anglers. There are lots of schoolie bass around, and fishermen are out in boats and on the shore, getting back in the groove.

The rhythms of Island life are changing again.

Memorial Day weekend begins on Friday when school children in Edgartown, Tisbury and Chilmark make their traditional marches to the sea to throw flowers in the water to commemorate those who have lost their lives in foreign wars. Middle schoolers will recite the Gettysburg address from heart, read poetry and play music. Is there any better way to learn history?

Even the lilacs have kept their appointment with the holiday this year, blooming in profusion at exactly the right time, ready to be cut by the armful for this colorful Island tradition.

In Edgartown this year, one face will be notably absent from the crowd. Lieut. Col. Fred B. Morgan Jr., a decorated World War II veteran and Edgartown native, had long been a participant in the simple ceremony at Memorial Wharf. There will no doubt be an extra moment of silence for Ted Morgan, who died last month.

On Monday all roads lead to Vineyard Haven, where the traditional parade organized by Martha’s Vineyard veterans steps off at 10 a.m. at the American Legion Hall in Vineyard Haven. Early in the day volunteers will plant hundreds of flags at the Oak Grove Cemetery. Following the parade, the Tisbury town picnic begins at noon at the Tashmoo Spring Building, where grills will be going and the whole Island is invited. Bring a picnic and the family, but leave the dog at home, please.

The holiday marks the unofficial opening of summer. This is the traditional weekend when seasonal homeowners return to sweep out cottages, get their boats back in the water and greet old friends.

How was your winter? Islanders are ready for the question.

But every year when Memorial Day rolls around, they admit to one another that they are never really quite ready. Unfinished winter projects will be put aside now as everyone adjusts to a new pace of life: more traffic, fewer places to park in downtown centers, tourists mingling with summer residents, school kids on bikes, and now and then a famous face or two.

More than ever, it seems that an older Vineyard way of life is disappearing. The Island is a little more smartly dressed these days, and there’s a whiff of upscale in the air. Old cottages have been replaced by newer homes, many of them large and opulent. Private jets line the tarmac at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. Summer fundraisers are trending toward high-end affairs.

There are tensions between this old and new Vineyard, but then tensions seem to be the order of the day, here as elsewhere. Fueled by social media, disagreements over issues both grave and trivial have upended the image of this Island as more tolerant and egalitarian than other places.

Thanks to the courage of the Oak Bluffs selectmen, sparks of contention over a Civil War monument that threatened to burst into full conflagration have been contained.

Perhaps the long-delayed onset of summer, offering up the same simple pleasures of this magical Island to people of all backgrounds and income levels, will serve as a reminder of what we all hold dear. The Island’s abundant natural resources, its beauty and open space, its cultural diversity and, yes, its rich and complex history, bind Islanders of every stripe. We must not take these for granted.

Sending out warmest wishes to all Gazette readers near and far for a happy and safe holiday. Please remember not to drink and drive.