Saturday morning at the top of School street in Oak Bluffs was an extraordinary morning. It was at once a public demonstration of civic engagement and civic duty transpiring simultaneously. The library parking lot was full to the brim as people lined up to vote in the large community room. Voting started at 8:30 a.m. but about 40-plus took their place in the rain to exercise their right to vote. Much is at stake in the year of 2020. We have seen our nation torn apart by dysfunction, distaste and disregard in Washington while trying to confront an indiscriminate virus, lack of access to health care, police brutality, institutional racism, vigilante militancy, chronic unemployment and food insecurity just to mention some of the issues top of mind for voters. And the issues of “right to repair” and rank choice voting have seen competing sides spend millions of dollars on advertising hoping to influence our voting. And of course there are our local elected officials also on the down ballot.

One lady had a beach chair to ease her wait, another lady was reading a book, another person was limping on one crutch, some had rain coats, a father brought his young son to witness the occasion, others just stood in the raw misty rain not in the least bit deterred by the weather. Fred Jackson, Gus Anglin, Pat Washington, Troy and Gillian Harris were just a few of the faces that I recognized. I am quickly reminded of those in other parts of the country who will not have an easy time to vote. They will stand in line for hours defying inadequate staffing, limited space and, in some cases, finding that their name has been purged from the voting rolls. We should salute the planning, preparation and attention to voter hosting that the town and volunteers executed so that we would have a smooth experience.

On the other side of School street civic engagement was at its best. Staff and volunteers from the Good Shepard Parish Food Distribution were preparing to host the 10:30 p.m. food give away to those in need. Tables of dry goods were being stacked and packaged. In the meantime cars were lining up in the Oak Grove Cemetery across from Pacific avenue. The effects of the virus has unmasked a number of serious disparities that include housing shortages, underemployed and food insecurity. The dedication of the team from the Good Shepard Parish should be applauded.

Saturday afternoon saw the rain abate, the clouds blow away and the sun appear in full blaze. As I drove by the iconic Ocean Park, my ninth wonder of the world, I saw the geese in large numbers grazing on our lush green grass storing food for the long flight to Canada. People were flying kites, playing touch football and enjoying this summer day in the fall season. The ease with which we can vote, the volunteers who fight hunger punctuate for me once again how special the culture is that surrounds us here on the Vineyard.

Ch eers to Bob and Jodie Falkenburg, who live in the campgrounds in Oak Bluffs. They celebrated their 70th anniversary on October 22.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!