Night comes earlier now, preceded by sunsets that startle the sky with streaks of salmon and violet. Cooler days have kept crowds down at the beaches, if scattered shark reports and a late-season invasion of Portuguese man o’ war were not discouragement enough.

Though visitors linger — and perhaps for longer this year than ever before — this is the traditional end of summer, the time for looking back and tallying up the highs and lows.

It was a season of contradictions.

With the coronavirus lurking in the shadows, the colors of the Island seemed somehow more vivid. What began as a soggy spring turned to drought by mid-August, after a historically hot, dry July. Lawns were parched; wild blueberries grew in abundance.

Families and friends, barred from large parties, gathered in yards and on porches in intimate conversation. Fundraising auctions shifted from tents to computer screens, and many reported a surge in charitable giving.

Restrictions on indoor activity spurred creative solutions for dining and commerce. Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs was transformed into a pedestrian mall on Sundays. Edgartown accommodated new outdoor cafes. The West Tisbury Farmers’ Market found more space — and more patrons — on the grounds of the Agricultural Hall. The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival revived a lost tradition: drive-in movies.

Early returns from retailers were mixed. Better than feared, worse than hoped, most said. Some shops and restaurants will survive. Others, sadly, will not.

And if Martha’s Vineyard was spared the worst of the pandemic, it was thanks to widespread testing, vigilance — including aggressive contact tracing — by health officials, and a population largely willing to take steps to protect itself and others.

Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer, but it also honors workers who make our economy run. And the successes of the season now passing are owed to the men and women who worked hard and resourcefully to make the best of a difficult year: health care workers, law enforcement officers, waiters and waitresses, drivers, grocery store employees, cleaners, chefs, tradespeople, landscapers and shopworkers, among others.

We salute them and hope many of them can enjoy a day of well-earned rest on Monday.

Happy Labor Day to all Gazette readers near and far.

Stay safe.