Parked on the side of the road at the edge of a beach is not a bad place to be on a windy, rainy evening in early October. The ocean looks fiercer now than it did during sunny summer, colder even to the eye. But the car headlights feel warmer, or at least more infrequent, as the offseason rolls out its welcome mat.

The wind picks up, calling forth more memories of the past than thoughts of the future, a familiar pattern come fall. If spring is about to-do lists and anticipation, fall leans to taking stock and hunkering down.

School routines have settled in as have trips to derby headquarters, woodland hikes and beach meanders. For the most part bathing suits remain at home now, except for a hardy few still reaching for their morning swim. For how much longer only the calendar knows.

The beach plums shake, the rain pesters the windshield and the cloud cover hangs low. This is not a sky-shaking storm, just a passing shower on its way to somewhere else. Migratory birds understand this as they bid bon voyage during this season of leaving but not having left yet. Darkness comes earlier but the curtain call of Daylight Saving has not yet had its say.

A hint of potluck is in the air, as distinct as the jumble of reddish leaves joining forces on a sidewalk in town earlier in the day. They are small in number, this colorful community of leaves, but they have a confidence that comes when nature is on your side.

A truck rolls past, four fishing rods lining one side of the windshield, a sign of hope and determination if ever there was one.


Parked on the side of the road at the edge of a broad field is not a bad place to be on a gray morning in early October. Even the geese appear at ease, waddling by the hundred through the tall grass in search of breakfast. Journeys afar are on the back burner, at least for now. Who knows what the afternoon will bring.

At night the slugs continue to creep across the deck, and the woods, beyond the yard’s perimeter, are still a busy place. Winter migration may have begun but hibernation has no claim on any species, not yet. But preparations have begun. Acorns rain down with more frequency every day and the squirrels have said goodbye to summer games of tag in favor of preparing for the future.

The family of skunks still own the night as do the owls and raccoons. The deer have become skittish as hunting season looms and they make plans to find a safer place to wait it out. To think they do not understand the borders of danger and safety is to view nature with a closed mind.

Farther afield three horses graze, a sheep pitches woo and a gaggle of wild turkeys sit in stony silence. A road crew puts up a new signs — West Tisbury this way, Aquinnah that way — and a mountain biking crew emerges from the woods, burly and bearded and ready for more.

A woman jogs by dressed in flannel pajama bottoms, a T-shirt and a black cape. She soon disappears around a bend in the road.

The geese nod knowingly as they move to a new plot of grass on this field of dreams. They circle a puddle, dipping down and then lifting their beaks to the sky as they let the water trickle down their long, slender necks. The pattern is repeated a few more times and then, as if hearing some signal beamed in from afar, the flock flaps their wings and flies away as one.