A few weeks ago a young bull escaped from his pasture in West Tisbury. He turned up at another pasture nearby where some cows were fenced in, munching on the rich grass as the late August sunshine cast its golden light across a wide expanse of outwash plain formed by melting glaciers thousands of years ago. Outside the electric fence strands, the amorous young bovine trained his interest on the females, who seemed oblivious to both his attentions and the hastily assembled group of Island farmers scrambling around trying to catch him. The scene went on for two days. Finally the wily bull was caught, corralled into a small trailer and carted down the road to Nip n’ Tuck Farm.

Maybe the fencing is better there.

Amid concerns about summer traffic and overdevelopment, there is still that other Martha’s Vineyard, a place where cows sometimes get out and farmers run around like Keystone Cops in Carhartt to catch them, and the paved road stays splotched with cowpies for a few weeks afterward.

And as another season passes, that’s the one we are already nostalgic for.

Labor Day is Monday. A reader remarked recently that it’s still summer by the calendar until Sept. 23.

And of course that’s true. But end of summer by the calendar is one thing, and the palpable end-of-summer feeling that Labor Day inevitably brings is another thing.

Outgoing ferries are full as vacationers head to their mainland homes, cars packed to the rooftops with bikes, kids, dogs and beach mementos.

The ocean water is still perfect for swimming, but beaches are noticeably less crowded now and the traffic is lighter, even in the usual congested hotspots: Five Corners, the Triangle, thoroughfares around the airport.

Blue chicory, late black-eyed Susans and goldenrod have staged a takeover in meadows where just a month ago oxeye daisies and butterfly weed ruled the roost.

Weary working Islanders look forward to the less-hurried routines of September, with children back in school and time for an extra cup of coffee in the morning. Fall fishing and bay scalloping beckon.

Summer workers, many of them from foreign countries these days, will be departing soon too, leaving everyone from harbor masters to small business owners short handed for the fall. Shoulder season labor shortages are another perennial rite of passage on an Island that by now has learned to somehow  get by.

By most tangible measures it’s been a good summer.

After a rainy, cold June, July and August brought near-perfect weather: sunny and clear with small amounts of rain, no major storms, no prolonged heat waves and stunning sunsets rivaled only by their counterparts: gorgeous sunrises.

The summer calendar seemed more replete than ever with events of all kinds. Every day seemed to bring a menu of choices — concerts, dance recitals, films, speakers, art shows. Festivals brought book lovers to Chilmark, rock-and-roll fans to Tisbury and craft-lovers to West Tisbury. Regattas of white sails crowded the harbors. White tents sprouted in fields, heralding weddings and fundraisers.

Island roads were clogged with traffic during high season, but there were no serious accidents on the road or on the water. And — can it be true? — there appeared to be fewer mopeds on Island roads.

In late June the public bus system was rocked by a driver strike that put a spotlight on both issues of fair pay and the role of the Vineyard Transit Authority advisory board whose members are appointed by Island towns.

In the end the two sides found accord, although Islanders learned this week that it will come at a price, with deep cuts now planned in winter service.

Summer traffic remains a growing problem, and more than ever this year it raised hard questions around whether the Vineyard has finally reached a tipping point, and is in danger of losing the unspoiled qualities that attract people here in the first place.

Martha’s Vineyard Commission executive director Adam Turner summed up the issue. “The Island is nearing a moment where it’s going to have to decide whether it’s going to maintain its rural character or it’s going to begin to shift to a more suburban one like the Cape,” he told the Gazette.

Fall is right around the corner, with its shortening days and cooler temperatures. Already, the carefree days of summer are butting up against the need to deal with the more difficult realities, starting with the Tisbury school crisis. It is a moment to reflect on the best memories of the summer past — a solitary beach walk, an errant bull — and to consider what it will take to preserve these essential elements of the Vineyard experience.

Happy Labor Day to all Gazette readers near and far. Enjoy the holiday weekend. Please remember not to drink and drive.