Editorial : Summer like another
How to measure the quality of the summer of 2008. It's difficult because there are so many standards, and most are subjective. If you are a gardener or a farmer, you probably wanted the rain/sun balance adjusted in June, more rain and less sun in July, and less rain, more sun in August, especially the first half. Sun worshippers want the weather dry, sunny, and hot, all summer long, and no crowds on the beach, please. Fishermen want bass, in abundance. Sailors want fair winds and uncrowded anchorages.
Your test of the summer may have been whether the contractor got the new addition finished on time. Did the landscaper get the flower gardens in shape for the July 4 party? Did the new furniture arrive?
If you are an innkeeper, it may be a question of whether your rooms were full. If you own a restaurant, were the tables full? If it's a high-end restaurant, maybe sales were down a bit, but if you run a casual place, maybe customers were plentiful. Did the tee-shirts sell? Did you find parking spaces downtown when you went shopping? Did the kids get jobs? Did they save any of the money they earned? Did someone get Lyme disease? Did you sell your house and make a bundle, or did you buy a house and spend too much?
Some of the standard measures are open to debate. For instance, it may be deplorable for some of us that Steamship Authority traffic - cars, foot passengers, and freight - are all ahead of the pace of a year ago. But businesses need customers, and fewer ferry passengers may mean fewer sales. Besides, it's been years since there were more travelers to the Vineyard than was true in the prior year.
Vineyard summers naturally bear some relation to mainland summers. In simplest terms, the weather travels west to east, so that if it's raining in Pennsylvania or west of Boston, before too very long it will be raining here. At least, that's the conventional wisdom. This summer, a lot of the rain tracked southwest to northeast, but northwest of us, so we missed it. And if the economy to the west is struggling, as it certainly is in places, cash registers will jingle less merrily in Vineyard shops. A Vineyard summer is a species of the American experience, not an entirely distinct genus. But, there are echoes.
And, of course, all these measures of summer are just your subjective gauges. For this page, using informal but dependable measures developed over decades, the summer of 2008 was a good deal like many summers past. The weather was okay. There were too many cars, too many mopeds, too many people, but it was fun. Business was good, but it might have been better. Prices were too high. People, but not us, were unspeakably rude. It was a so-so summer, but it's too bad it ended so quickly.
In general, nothing out of the ordinary happened this summer. It was just another summer, not the most brilliant perhaps, but not the dullest either. And, as for its brief duration, aren't we really ready for fall?