Behavior changes with the season on Martha's Vineyard.
Photo by Jack Shea
The 90 days of summer are over: 18-hour days, the traffic horrors at Five Corners, the crawl through the Oak Bluffs blinker are past. We emerge from the summer grind to find some time to pursue...what, exactly?
We spoke to Island residents about the seasonal shift of personal gears. For some, fall is a familiar comfort. For others, life is very different from past autumns.
For Rosette Sullivan of Edgartown summer has generally been a relaxed time working an online rentals business at home, an easy transition to fall. Not this year. Ms. Sullivan opened Polished, a day spa on Main Street in Vineyard Haven just in time for Memorial Day and a retail baptism.
"I'm ready for vacation. A week in Mexico and I can't wait. We had a very good summer, the business went well and I'm grateful for that. But I was in the middle of the hustle and bustle, even overbooked at times.
"We'll be open all year, probably three days a week after Christmas. Fall weather is perfect. Nice days and cool nights. We can sleep with a window open. I love that about fall."
Thomas Broadway Cox of Vineyard Haven has been commuting to Boston for 31 years to his Alfred at Harvard Square hair salon on Charles Street in Cambridge.
"The bus from Woods Hole to Boston has fewer people," Mr. Cox said. "More seats available. That's great. We need the tourists, no question, and the presidential visit is fun, but I don't dread Five Corners now. I can make a left turn there with comfort and I will go to Edgartown. I don't go to Edgartown in July and August. That's the big city in summer.
"I love the transition from summer to fall. The beaches are empty and I'll swim until Columbus Day.
"Fall for me becomes the home of my childhood and I feel that sense of stewardship we all have about our island. I found myself cleaning up trash on an Aquinnah beach the other day."
The autumnal equinox last week was a blur for Patricia Carlet. The Tisbury resident and artist did double duty this summer. In addition to gallery shows, she helped unveil the renovated Tisbury Waterworks building last week with an art show, presenting works of Tisbury town employees at the unveiling that drew 200. Ms. Carlet was a member the six-year renovation project committee.
"Thank God for the renovation committee," she said. "Wonderful, committed people. Basically, this summer we had no time for ourselves, getting permits and approvals and coordinating the show. I never realized there was so much involved in putting together a gallery show.
"And it's so exciting! I can't stay away. I love seeing the expression on people's faces when they see the building.
"So my fall hasn't started yet. It will start Saturday at noon when the last artist leaves with a check and their art pieces. Then I can go home, collapse, and get back to my artwork.
"I've always loved fall because everything changes so much after Labor Day. We used to have an end of summer party. We'd have a cookout and a keg of beer. Maybe 250 people would come and catch up. People I hadn't seen all summer. You lose touch in summer with a lot of people with whom you are close, so there's a coming-together element to fall, while experiencing the beautiful days, cool, crisp nights, the wonderful smell of fall leaves, turning the garden under and planting rye grass. Everything slows down. I actually get to the beach. I have time for myself."
Andrew Hannagan had the busiest summer of his life. The Vineyard Haven resident worked long hours in the automotive repair business. And he got married. Mr. Hannagan and Vineyard Haven's own Senyel Seward celebrated an Island wedding on September 10.
"I commuted daily from the Worcester area for years before moving to the Island full-time four years ago. I didn't like winter at first but now, being with Senyel, I like it. I also like not taking 50 minutes to get to the bank on Friday.
"Once the August crowd leaves, my whole demeanor changes. Doing the work I do, the last place a tourist wants to be is in the repair garage on their vacations. Believe me, you meet some characters at work in the summer.
"I like how the Island's more relaxed now. Work is more relaxed. I sometimes feel like the summer is just a giant blur. In winter, we have more time to plan.
"We spend more time with our families now. We'll probably have Christmas at our house, sort of passing the torch. I think the biggest change isn't seasonal but that it's not all about me any more. I have a responsibility to others, to Senyel, to take care of myself better. For example, I'm going to try to stop smoking, to save more money and cut out impulse buying."
Ron DiOrio, a former Oak Bluffs selectmen, operates Craftworks on Circuit Ave. with his partner, Paula Catanese. Like many people we spoke with, he relishes the simple delights that end of summer brings.
"We get to prepare and have dinner at home, something we never are able to do in the summer," he said. That's just the nature of retail on the Island. Summer is the time for retailers to make their money. Summer is also innately stressful for businesses, apart from crowds and traffic.
"Will the tourists come? Will our inventory come on time? Will the weather cooperate? It all fell into place this year, our twentieth in business.
"The tourists were pretty relaxed this summer. I didn't notice a high stress level among the visitors. The Island relaxes people. That's why they come here," he said.