From the April 19, 1985 edition by Richard Reston:

A few random thoughts while having breakfast this morning. It’s an odd time of year in the rhythm of Vineyard life. Certain thoughts turn back to recent weeks and the political clamor of town meetings, of Island communities grappling with the affairs of government and the needs of people. Other thoughts shift forward to the coming of a new summer season, to the renewal of old relationships and to life’s faster pace, a certain urgency in the rush to prepare for what is to come. Thoughts are mixed this time of year. They are of days just, of days about to arrive. Nothing seems attached to the fleeting moment of what is just now.

The schedule for 1985 is late. No real spring yet. It is said the Vineyard — perhaps it is true for all of New England — has no spring, only immediate summer. Cool temperatures and slate gray skies and the white smother of fog would seem to prove the point in this spring. But then April is always an erratic month. It is a month that Hal Borland, essayist and naturalist, wrote about with eloquence:

“That’s the thing about April: it has tantrums. It is by turns a backward child among the months and a mischievous youngster with disarming wisdom and consideration . . . . It will flatter you off guard, then kick you in the shins. A part of it is our own impatience to see spring move in with flowers in her hair. We’re weary of waiting. But the greater part of it is simply April being April. We know what’s coming and we’ll welcome it, but we still don’t like the way that April brings it. April’s a problem child.”

Air New York plans to come to our small airport with big jets from the Big Apple this summer. Approval of the Air New York schedule by the airport commission here is considered likely, particularly with service from the beleaguered Provincetown-Boston Airline in doubt. Commercial jets in and out of the Vineyard will return such service to the Island for the first time since 1971, when Delta Airlines closed operations here. Last time around, jets and their intrusion into the Vineyard environment were the subject of heated and prolonged controversy.

Perhaps the times have changed. It now may be a good idea. The jets of Air New York may help flatten the transportation crunch of the summer season, prices on routes from the Vineyard to New York and Boston may drop as the seating capacity goes up. But the Vineyard must think carefully about all this.

The quality of Vineyard life, its character and its traditions are much on the minds of Vineyarders these days. The Island is full of debate and argument and ferment about its future. The explosion of building in Edgartown is the symbol, a center of political controversy for all Island towns to watch and to monitor when they look to their own future. Seasonal residents returning to Edgartown are aghast at the speed and depth of change in Edgartown in just a few short months.

The main approach to Edgartown is now a strip development, a development that looks and feels like any in America, along the principal highways of the Cape, along the main streets of any suburban community anywhere in the nation. At Edgartown’s recent town meeting, a voter rose to warn: “We are strip mining our future.” The town voted a building moratorium in its two central business districts. It voted for time to plan the future, time to order the chaos.

But not all is so serious on the Vineyard. The spirit and energy of the Island rise with the advent of a new season. Early morning walks area again a joy. The waters around us sparkle with new hues of aqua and gold. The songs of spring are different with the arrival of summer birds, even if the red-winged blackbirds landed a bit late this year. And the sounds of spring are different, full of the noise of hammers and saws, the scraping of old paint, the brushing of new. Colors change. The yellow of daffodils and forsythia, the pale green of Island willows in bud. Willows always seem to lead the march into summer. License plates from across the country tell the story of a nation’s attachment to this Island community.

And if the Island faces problems these days, it also holds tightly to a special, if fragile, way of life. That is what all the debate and ferment is about, and it is healthy for a community to talk aloud of these things. Does this Island community have a right to protect its future, its most precious resources, its clean air and clean water? Many believe it does, and are willing to fight for the principle against the pressures of unchecked development.

Some refer to the Vineyard as a civil wilderness and even today there is truth in the phrase. That makes the Island and its way of life special, particularly when judged against so many other communities across the nation where there is no time left and no room to plan the future.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox