Intense summer heat settled over the Island this month, with warm winds from the west-southwest kicking up dust on dirt roads and in dry hayfields up-Island. Just a month ago the landscape was lush and green from soaking spring rains. Now the late July wildflowers have been stunted by the lack of rain, but however muted, their seasonal succession remains a timetable we can count on: bright blue chicory, Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed Susans, orange butterfly weed. In the tinder-dry fields, tiny butterflies flit among the scant flowers searching for nectar. Baby swallows swoop about, testing their wings on their first solo flights, sometime coming in for crash landings.

Temperatures soared into the 90s this week, setting records for Martha’s Vineyard and sending Islanders and visitors to the cooling shorelines. Afternoon flood tides have been perfect for swimming. The clear, salty waters of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds are dotted with sailboats, fishing boats and recreational watercraft of every description. It’s almost as if there was a national declaration: this is a summer to be on the water.

At the old farmhouse, a new mid-summer quiet has settled in. The noisy grackles and cheerful indigo buntings that staged a backyard takeover in June have left their nests. These days a lone mourning dove breaks the pre-dawn silence with her call. Evening fireflies that twinkled by the hundreds in the orchard grass a month ago have all but disappeared. Grandchildren have come and gone, colorful plastic sand buckets are stacked in the shed again, rock and shell collections have been returned to the sea with a grandmother’s promise: more beach combing at Thanksgiving.

Today July ends, tomorrow August begins. And as the Island rounds the high summer mark, it is a traditional time to take stock — perhaps more important than ever as the global pandemic stretches on with no clear end in sight.

Early predictions of a quiet summer have been realized in some ways and proved wrong in others. Gone are the traditional big Island gatherings, the Ag Fair and the Oak Bluffs fireworks among. But there are unexpected crowds — and crowding — on beaches, in the harbors and in downtown business centers. Restaurants and retail shops have readapted their service models, allowing for social distancing and other hygiene protocols to keep people safe. It’s been a tricky balancing act, but so far it has kept the Island mostly healthy. A few new cases of Covid-19 have been reported, but the Vineyard has dodged the frightening resurgence of the disease seen elsewhere.

But as hospital president and chief executive officer Denise Schepici reminded us this week, the Island cannot let down its guard.

The outlook for August promises more carefree summer days, but the Vineyard remains threaded with tension and unease amid an unknown outlook for the future.

When receipts are tallied at the end of the summer, what businesses will have survived and what will falter?

What will public schools look like in the fall? A plan has not been announced yet, but is expected soon.

Will the many Vineyard homeowners who came here in March to ride out the pandemic stay on through the off season?

On a perfect summer day on Martha’s Vineyard, it is possible to forget — at least briefly — the tenuous state we are in.