Dawn breaks over the eastern-facing treeline and the Island is wrapped in a blanket of quiet. An overnight frost has brushed greening farm fields with a coating of white. Spring on Martha’s Vineyard has been a hard sell this year, with cold, rain and wind penetrating the bones of even the hardiest Islanders who have lived through cold springs before. The firewood supply is down to next to nothing. The garden box is ready for planting, the small fishing rod tuned up and ready for the first cast, but the winter coat still hangs by the back door, as chilly mornings and evenings linger. But the days are warming now, and we welcome them like an old friend standing in the dooryard. Oh, hello. It’s been years, or so it seems.

Left to its own devices, the natural world is suddenly lush and abundant. The oaks and locusts are filled with nesting birds, old farm fields are carpeted with starflowers and buttercups. Lilacs are late and just coming into bloom, along with their May companion lily of the valley.

Three months into the pandemic, inch by inch, a heavy curtain is beginning to lift on the Island and around the state. Case counts are finally dropping statewide. On the Vineyard the counts remain low. And Islanders are beginning to emerge from their isolation, slowly, carefully, blinking in the May sunlight as if they had just stumbled out of a darkened theatre. We’ve been lucky, they tell each other, we’ve done a good job, but it’s not over yet. Vigilence is still crucial.

Memorial Day is Monday, traditionally the unofficial start of summer on the Vineyard. This is the time of year when ferries ordinarily fill to the gunwales with a noisy mix of people returning to the Island — to open up their homes for the season, get the boat in the water, take the first plunge in the ocean, land the first bluefish from the rips at Wasque, gather for picnics, share a cold beer with friends. By long tradition the weekend is marked by small-town parades and ceremonies of remembrance.

But this year is different, and out of necessity Memorial Day will be muted. Islanders are getting used to their different way of life, cast in the need for face-covering and social-distancing. Visitors and seasonal homeowners who look forward to their annual return are worried and wondering. Should they come? Is it safe? What is the Island like these days?

The Island thankfully has been spared the widespread illness and grim death toll from the virus seen around the state and around the world. But the economic pain here is deep and real and only beginning to be felt, across sectors from government to business and tourism. Relief efforts have been remarkably generous and remain ongoing.

With the approach of summer, adaptation is a central theme. Restaurants are converting to takeout, with some beginning to reinvent themselves as small grocery outlets. Discussion has begun in down-Island towns about closing streets to cars for the summer. Farms, garden centers and small retail shops are rapidly making the shift to online ordering, delivery and pickup. In Menemsha sea scallopers are selling their catch straight from the stern. Day boat scallops have become a staple food among Islanders this spring.

And thanks to the creativity and generosity of seasonal residents Steve Rusckowski and Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, a new universal testing initiative scheduled to begin in the next few weeks should help the Island transition to its new normal. Information gleaned from testing, combined with good follow-up contact tracing, should help the Vineyard to react quickly should the virus make a stronger appearance.

In the spirit of adaptation, Memorial Day traditions will shift this year.

Instead of their usual march to the sea to throw flowers in the water, Island school children will videorecord online readings speeches and music.

There will be no Memorial Day parade, although flags will go up in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. The public is invited to view — from a distance.

Because remembering and honoring those who died in the name of freedom can take place at any interval.

Sending out best wishes to all Gazette readers near and far for a happy Memorial Day weekend. Please stay safe and well.