In some circles there’s talk. Some of it is disparaging and some of it is hopeful. Its an old Island conversation, about newcomers. It may in fact go back to the original inhabitants. Back then it might have been: “These newcomers, they don’t get it, they can’t fish, they dress funny, they have strange ideas and they don’t know their way around.”

These days, oddly it’s much the same: “They drive too fast, their houses are too big, they dress funny, they don’t know their way around, etc.”

The Island is, well, an Island. A finite piece of earth. Word travels fast. The adage “it’s a small Island, it’s a long life,” serves as an admonition to mind your p’s and q’s.

Newcomers are a constant here and have been forever. I was once one. I can easily reminisce about the time period when I arrived in the late 80’s when the hippie thing was on the wane but still present, when there were long lines in the morning out in front of the Black Dog at Five Corners and all through the line could be found friends. Summer people were still just summer people and those of us who stuck it out year-round had the Island for ourselves the rest of the time.

Now, as always, things have changed and for some, the disparaging ones, it’s not for the better. I have to admit there have been moments that I have fallen into that category. The car with the out of state plate whizzes by and I think to myself: “They just don’t get it, this is not suburbia.”

Recently, though, I have discovered a new tack. The Island’s beauty for me has always been about the people that I have been blessed to know and the way the community accepted me, quirks included. The new tack came to me a bit surprisingly. I heard or read somewhere, maybe in some book, or perhaps a tweet, or a post on Facebook, or on Instagram — I don’t know, but it went something like this: “Love your brother (and sister of course). O maybe it was: “Treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated.”

Then I thought about the present influx of relative newcomers, especially those who have now embarked on becoming year-rounders and I began to see a positive side. It has long been my personal tradition or practice when departing a friend to say, “Love ya, see ya,” because who knows, it may be the last time we see each other and I want that to be my message just in case.

That made me think again about how what I really love about this place is the people of all sorts that abide here. That led to the realization that it’s okay that there are newcomers, and it’s okay if they haven’t yet settled into their own understanding yet of ‘The island way.’

Most importantly, I realized the upside of more people coming to stay means that there are more people to love.

Joe Keenan is a roofer, baker and musician living in West Tisbury.