At Large : Summing up
I hate it when people say "Islanders are concerned about" or "Islanders say" or "Islanders are furious with." Who knows what Islanders know? What they collectively say? What irritates them? If there is one certainty, established for me during 42 years in residence, 34 of them in the newspaper game, it is that Islanders collectively don't think, know, say, or get angry in concert. In this regard, as in so many others, consensus is elusive among us.
So, if anyone or any newspaper suggests that we all think this way or that, call it what it is – nonsense.
Which makes me a little uneasy about the following, the result of an informal survey of my friends and acquaintances, a group no more peculiar, I suspect, than your own, similar group of adherents.
On the basis of this ephemeral data set (as the scientifically inclined might put it), here are some heartening conclusions. About this summer that's about to end – at least the part of climatalogical summer that I think of as real summer – here's what I hear. Invest in it what you like.
The weather has been terrific. Steamship Authority traffic has picked up compared with the sleepy pace of the last few years. People are using more water to drink, bathe, and sustain their gardens.
Many businesses say they are holding their own or doing a little better than a year ago. Actually, they won't know how they did till summer's over and they sit down to do the books.
Prices are high, but visitors, despite being impoverished by their vacation experience, claim to be having fun.
We've reached, and then toppled backwards, from the saturation point. Anyhow, although the place is packed, over the last four years, we've missed packed. We'll still complain about it, but not as loudly as in the past.
Turns out, we've not priced ourselves out of the market. For evidence, consider the real estate market where, for some significant price points, unrealistic prices still make matches among unrealistic buyers.
The auto traffic is so knotted, no one wants to come anymore. It's been a familiar lament. But here, I think, the pleasure we derive from complaining about the traffic outpaces our interest in the tactics we might employ to diminish it.
The good beaches are all private turns out to be wrong. Lots, but not all, great beaches are very public, and the very public seems to enjoy them.
Beer and wine for everyone – except Chilmarkers – has cheered up visitors and Islanders alike, except the grumps, but it's hardly responsible for improved business fortunes.
New Yorkers are ghastly nuisances, and there are lots of them. But, we can be nasty right back, and we're honing our nastiness skills.
For sure, my friends don't all think the same. There's a rosary of gripes, unsurprising to someone in my line of work.
My garden's a wreck because we haven't had any rain.
My summer's a wreck because every day has been murky, drizzly, foggy, or rainy.
You take your life in your hands riding a bicycle, a moped, or jogging or walking.
You take your life in your hands trying to drive around bicyclists, mopeders, joggers, or walkers.
And don't even talk to me about the inline skaters.
Summer's over, The Fair is over, and I haven't gotten to the Farmer's Market once, because it's so crowded.
I may come back to the family summer house next year, but I'm going to the beach and staying there.
It rains all winter, and the first nice day, bang, the tourists are all here. They don't even give us one nice day with the place to ourselves.
If you have heard, as I have, at least four of these diverse observations spoken by year-round or summer Vineyarders in your company, at times of the day when one might reasonably expect the speaker to be sober, then you may mark your calendar. The ebb tide of summer rages.