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3.1.18

From the Editor

Are you ready to rock?

Some people call this place “the rock,” as if the Island were more solid than it is. It’s usually not a term of endearment, as in “rock solid” or “rock of ages.” Or as in “that rocks!” and “rock on.” Quite the opposite, in fact. Though sometimes people might say they are happy to be back on the rock, it’s more often used in disparagement. As in: “I had to get off of the rock for a couple days,” equating the Vineyard with lesser resorts such as Alcatraz.

That latter sentiment seems to peak around the time we are putting together the issue you are currently reading, which is to say late in the winter heading toward spring. The timing is ironic, I suppose, since our migratory summer friends during the same time period are beginning to long for their return to the Vineyard. Daffodils are still months away, but any day the painters’ and plumbers’ trucks will start filling the parking spaces here on South Summer Street and the great spring spruce-up rituals will commence. More certain even than peepers are the phone calls soon to come from America, asking if we know of any cheap rentals for the first two weeks of August. To which we reply as reliably as towhees, “I’ll let you know if I hear of anything.” That is, if we don’t just say “Nope.”

It’s strange timing, too, since spring finally seems within reach, if not quite around the corner. Days are notably longer than in December, when the dead of night seems to arrive before the quitting bell. Storms can still come through and dump all manner of weather, but the likelihood of extended spells of truly cold weather is slim. The population of robins that winters over occasionally sings a few warm-up notes on mild mornings. Mud abounds.

It’s true, late winter heading toward spring is not the Vineyard’s finest season. The usual local cranks are, if anything, crankier than ever, having run out of things to say about summer people sometime in January and turned their constructive commentary on their fellow Islanders. The curmudgeons even more curmudgeonly.

But I suspect the reason has little to do with the weather. I hope the cranks and curmudgeons don’t read this far down because I’m about to speak heresy. What if the reason for late-winter desperation to “get off the rock” seen in so many year-rounders is because we don’t actually love having the Island all to ourselves as much as we profess? What if we protesteth the summer crowds too much and actually miss them? As the early spring-that-is-not-quite-spring lazes along seemingly indefinitely, what if we are compelled to flee the rock not to get off the Island, but to make sure the summer people are still over there in America? What if we want reassurance that, like the caravan of airstreams in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, they will return?

Okay, you can say it. I’m off my rocker.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

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