From the Editor

Fall Afternoon, Fall Afternoon...

I won’t lie and deny that for many left behind in paradise, fall is the best time of year. And not only because, as a Maine lobsterman told a television-journalist friend of mine, “My favorite day? Labor Day: we have their money and they’re gone.” Though there is surely some of that. Ahh fall, when the leaves turn golden and we happy few, we local cranks, can speak our minds whilst counting our summer dollars.

Nor will I submit you to the usual recitation of how the water is warmer in September than it is in August, the waves more reliable, the produce more bountiful, the fish more varied and hungrier, the nights cooler, the sunsets crisper – though I have just done exactly that.

Here’s the curious thing. If you ask close observers of “summer people” – which is to say, if you ask almost any “year-round” person – they will tell you that August visitors themselves increasingly appear as if they secretly can’t wait for it all to be over. It’s not that August isn’t fun or that folks are not enjoying themselves to the fullest. It’s almost the opposite: the Augustines appear to be engaged in a headlong accumulation of summer pleasures the way a committed birder – a “wing nut” – on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Papua New Guinea checks off species on a life list.

On the Vineyard, the “lazy days of summer” – those “summer afternoon, summer afternoon” times that James praised – come at its beginning, in July, and at its end, in September. August, by contrast, is fun like a roller coaster, or like a scavenger hunt. Fun like those card games that are based simply on who can play faster rather than who has the best strategy.

Just because I myself am not much of a scavenger hunter or roller coaster doesn’t mean this kind of fun is wrong. Nor is the frenetic pace of August anyone’s fault. It’s largely well-meaning year-round Island organizations, after all, that have packed every afternoon and evening with worthy festivals, openings, screenings, signings, singings, and talking eggheads by the dozen. Similarly, the ongoing veneration of wholesome food is good for both farms and taste buds, but woe to the August host who still thinks he can grab a twelve-pack of Hebrew Nationals and a bag of buns and call it a Vineyard beach picnic. July’s “help yourself to a cold one” is August’s “try this evening’s signature cocktail.”

It’s no doubt boring at this point to wonder aloud if the relentless urge to Instagram just how much glamorous fun is being had by any given reveler at any given moment may be playing a role in the amnestic blur that August has become. But my friends and family will attest that the possibility of boringness has never stopped me in the past. So consider it wondered aloud. It was in The Phaedrus, I think, that the great philosopher pointed out that we Instagram things in order to forget them.

Or something like that. I can’t remember. I’ll tell you in October. After the Derby.