“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

So we’re told. But not on the Vineyard, where the twain do meet.

I’m a Westerner. I was born in Nevada and grew up on a ranch in California, the state where my father, grandfather and great-grandfather farmed. Now I live on Martha’s Vineyard, 3,000 miles away from my homeland. Why?

When I tell friends, “Because it reminds me of California,” I mean the Island evokes for me something primal about the San Joaquin Valley and West of my boyhood, a rural area of farms, ranches and small towns.

Oak Bluffs is where I live, its woods behind my house in autumn cushion the narrow paths with oak leaves, taking me back to the California blue oaks in the hills of my youth. The sight and bracing scent of drying needles from Vineyard pitch pines and white pines remind me of the higher Sierra Nevada, and I feel a fated connection to where I began. I was born in White Pine County.

Nights are black here. The stars and moon shine with brilliance elsewhere blotted out by city lights. Long ago I would look from a rise across California’s Great Valley and see the darkness sprinkled with distant lights from farmhouses looking like ships at sea. Now when my wife, Holly, and I walk out to the bluffs or pass Trinity Church, the little chapel of our wedding 41 years ago, I squint across wide water as dark and flat as the valley and again seem to see those faraway farm specks of light on the sound and mainland.

Other nights the ocean fog rolls in as did the blinding tule fog in the valley, but no fog bells there prevented car-crash pileups on Highway 99. The Vineyard has lots of ground-feeding doves but no autumn dove season when the bird of peace fell from the valley sky in the thousands.

The roads I run on in Oak Bluffs are doubly reminiscent of California lanes through fields and vineyards. Icy water from melting glaciers flooded my part of the Island, carrying sediment as it did into the valley. Whether geologically accurate or not, the sandy soil edging old country roads with their cracks and potholes looks the same to me here and there.

During a snowless January on State Road, passing what Holly’s mother once called her “favorite hill,” a sweeping hillside of tawny winter grass and white boulders, Holly said, “It looks like California.” What’s different is California’s distinctive reversal of seasonal beauty would transform such a hillside into brilliant green in winter and yellow in rainless summer.

In April, I imagine a seasonal merger as long blades of Vineyard grasses sprout in wild patches, glowing wet and iridescent in sunlight, as did the now-disappearing native valley grasses of my youth.

On Island farms I glimpse sheep and Angus and Hereford cattle as on our ranch, not oxen as here, though their horns remind me of the time my grandfather and father rode out to break up two bulls fighting in a pasture. We also raised chickens and grew grapes, cotton, corn, alfalfa, garden vegetables and fruits like tomatoes and apricots.

My grandfather was the son of Béarnais immigrants and began work as a tenant farmer along the San Joaquin River. On his original 40-acre home place, we all lived in a small farmhouse — my father, mother, aunt, sisters and brother. I slept in the same bed as my grandfather and woke early to eat Kix with him for breakfast. That house was surrounded by Sycamores, the same trees that shade a long path on the Allen Sheep Farm, forming a bower dispensing for me a sense of wholeness and calm.

In the town of Oak Bluffs I’m carried even farther back by the wooden-plank walkway along Mocha Mott’s and the wooden stairways and landings on the backs of buildings, like those in Old West towns, such as Battle Mountain, Nev., where my Basque grandfather worked as a sheepherder, miner and grocery store and hotel owner before the arrival of my grandmother as a mail-order bride from the Basque Country.

“The Basques brought you here,” Holly once told me, referring to historical research about probable Basque whalers sailing the coast more than a hundred years before the first Mayhews settled on the Island. When told of my heritage, a Vineyard neighbor exclaimed, “Basques! A people less spoken of than the Uighurs.”

Tractors in our fields turned up mortars and pestles used to grind acorns, as did the ancestors of both valley Chukchansi and Island Wampanoag. Neither lived in permanent agricultural villages but in mobile circular dwellings, termed wickiups there and wigwams here, as hunters and foragers in environmental richness. Their descendants survive in both places to bring awareness to the lands’ earliest, continuing inhabitants.

The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse rural areas in the U.S. The Island’s diversity intensifies each year during its 120-year continuation of Oak Bluffs as a popular location for Black vacationers and summer homeowners.

Martha’s Vineyard is a hunk of glacial debris without bedrock that one day will be the first of New England to wash away. Until then, there’s work to do. In 1887, geologist Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, the creator of Seven Gates Farm, wrote, “Most people heartily agree that it’s our bounden duty to transmit the inheritance which we enjoy in the Earth unimpaired to the generations to come.”

The pandemic highlights how we need more local working farms to feed us and to protect the land from indiscriminate building. The Island already has among the state’s highest housing costs and the lowest family income.

Holly and I moved to the Island permanently eight years ago. Two hundred years earlier a full-time resident like me, who wasn’t born here, would be labeled a “Stranger.” That’s fine with me. I’m looking at a photo when I was boy, watering tomatoes in our valley ranch garden. I’m five and wearing a pair of blue Levi’s. All my life I’ve never worn a different brand of jeans. It makes me happy during this pandemic lull to remember how on the Vineyard blue jeans are considered dress pants for evening dinner parties and special events, as they are in the rural San Joaquin Valley. I pull on a pair of blue Levi’s and feel right at home.

Frank Bergon is the author of the just-published The Toughest Kid We Knew: The Old New West: A Personal History. He lives in Oak Bluffs.