From the Editor

It is a well-known fact that the best things in life are free. Except for a roof over your head and decent food on the table. And the table, unless you get really lucky at the Dumptique. You can probably find a free chair by the side of the road, so okay on that part, as long as you can get it home in your free pickup truck running on free gas.

Wait a minute, you say. You could walk that free chair to the best beach on the Vineyard, which is to say the best beach in the world, and sit there and soak up the free rays and think free deep thoughts all day long. And you would be right, as long as those thoughts haven’t been made deeper by the education you’re still paying off, or the one that Bernie promises to give you for no money. (To be on the safe side, maybe skip the deep thoughts and stick to the mindfulness practice you learned from a book you absolutely could find free at the Dumptique on any given day.)

But as far as the beach is concerned, you are absolutely correct. Once again the voters have spoken, and South Beach is the official Best of the Vineyard Best Beach, and it’s absolutely free. If you borrow your sunblock from someone else, that is. If you want to go to the official second best beach on Martha’s Vineyard, which is Lambert’s Cove, however, you better be – or be staying with – someone who has paid their West Tisbury real estate taxes and bought a $50 sticker.

Which brings up an interesting conundrum. Last time we checked, a key to the beach at Quansoo was on the market for $295,000, which makes it a bargain of sorts compared to a key to the beach at Black Point, which was listed for $325,000. So...if the best beach on the Vineyard, and therefore the world, is free, and the second best beach is fifty bucks a year, exactly what kind of loser beach would cost $325,000? Pretty darn loser, don’t you think? Think all you want, but unless you have $325,000 sitting around, don’t try to find out in person. This is the only known example of that mythical commodity known to economists as a Giffen beach, if I remember correctly from my not-so-free education, which admittedly I probably don’t.

The views of the open moors along Moshup Trail in Aquinnah weren’t free, though you don’t have to pay to enjoy them. They’re the product of more than twenty years of legal wrangling paid for by, among others, the donors big and small, anonymous and public, to the Vineyard Conservation Society. You’re free to gaze at the Gay Head Light while you’re up there, but it wasn’t moved away from the cliffs last year for free. Feel free to take a walk at the newly expanded Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, or to enroll your darling junior in the “free” tennis lessons at Vineyard Youth Tennis, or the “free” sailing program at Sail Martha’s Vineyard. Enjoy the plastic-free beaches, courtesy of the volunteers who spent some time this spring picking up the trash.

No, the best things in life aren’t free. But they are generally freely given. Except this magazine. That’s $4.95, no ifs, ands, or buts.