Labor Day is sneaking up on us fast; soon the days will shorten, temperatures will drop, and the summer, which most of us have looked forward to for so long, will be in record books. But there’s still time to get out and enjoy the warm weather, so we asked some of our readers what, if they had their druthers, would they do to make the most of a perfect late summer day.
Predictably, some would go to the beach, go hiking, or go for a sail, while others would have a family barbecue. And others, perhaps as a sign of the times, wanted to make sure they carved out some time for a nap.
Also, since Labor Day is almost upon us, we asked people how this Labor Day, in the time of the pandemic, might be different from Labor Days past. So have a read, live vicariously through others’ perfect days, or even better, have a perfect day for yourself. (Stay tuned for Part Two in next week’s newspaper.)
Cynthia Riggs, West Tisbury
A perfect late summer day, hooray! I’d get up early, for me, say around 7. I’d bake blueberry muffins from our own frozen blueberries, scramble a couple of eggs from our hens, and savor a large mug of coffee. I’d take my breakfast outside by the fish pond and watch the ducks taking their morning swim.Then I’d deliver a muffin, still hot, to my big sister, Alvida, who lives on the same property. Back home, I’d check out the garden to see what’s there — cantaloupes, tomatoes, Swiss chard, parsley, cucumbers — it’s all magic the way those tiny seeds know how to develop into sprawling vines that produce melons unlike anything our stores can provide. The mint is taking over. I love mint. Not only is it the right garnish for a gin and tonic, it seems to deter garden pests. But it does take over, and I pull it up gladly because it smells great. Our two little goats will see me coming with armfuls of mint. They’ll stand at the fence on their hind legs, front feet on the fence top. Somehow it’s become noon on this ideal day, and although it’s midweek, the Sunday Writers are meeting in a couple of hours. I’ve got to get something written — fast! During the pandemic, we’ve been meeting outdoors under the maple trees my mother planted when she was about 8 years old. She planted two, far enough apart so when she grew up and the trees grew larger, she could sling a hammock between them. The trees did grow. She, and later we three daughters, spent summer hours in that hammock. The trees are now more than a hundred years old, and their trunks are a good five feet in diameter. They’ve grown too close for a hammock. But the shade from those giant trees — ahh! On a hot day, it’s at least 10 degrees cooler under their leafy canopy. I’ve procrastinated, and my reading for today isn’t ready yet. When it is, I’ll send a quick email to the group with my work. Each of us prints out our own copy of everyone’s writing to minimize touching. The writers group, all masked, will sit in a circle on wooden benches and resin chairs set six feet apart. It’s a working meeting, but it morphs into a much-needed social occasion. Those of us with gardens and chickens and zucchini share eggs and produce, those with no garden share zucchini bread. The afternoon has waned and cooled. I check the goats. Chris has given them a load of hay. I check the ducks and chickens and guineas, but Lynn has fed them so they wouldn’t beg at the writers’ group. A final check of the garden to see what new magic has taken place. Yes! A zucchini, the size of a fireplace log, has escaped my earlier inspection. Supper: zucchini bread from the writers group, and a tomato and cucumber salad, a book, and bed.
[With regard to Labor Day:] Ordinarily, Bunch of Grapes would have a booth at the Artisans Fair on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and I’d be at all three, from 10 am to 4 pm, selling books. When BOG wasn’t able to book their booth one year, Andrea Rodgers, who established the Artisans Fair, invited Lynn Christoffers, other writers, and me to take over their booth to sell our books. It’s always a grand occasion, not only selling the books, but talking to neighbors and friends and readers I’m meeting for the first time. Not sure what will happen this year, certainly not the usual schmoozing. This is a year for Que Sera, Sera.
Nancy Aronie, Chilmark
Crisp is perfect! Feeling like fall is perfect!
A swim, a book, the hammock, the husband sitting across from me reading, the next-to-the-last rose of summer budding, swordfish marinating, tomatoes ripening, basil for the first time growing in abundance. Pumpkin blossoms blooming … my favorite color.
Nowhere to go.
No one to see.
No worries about being late, no care about bad hair, no need for a new outfit … a new anything.
Pre-COVID Labor Days past:
Why did we say yes … we’d love to!
Maybe they’ll cancel!
Beth and Louie Larsen, Chilmark
Well for us, this will be a different Labor Day, with or without COVID-19. After 35 years of having the Net Result and having to be there for all the summer holidays, we are looking forward to spending it with family and friends. Our Labor Day weekends were at the market from early morning until after closing, getting home around 9 pm.
We still will spend it with family, however no big gathering of family and friends. A perfect Labor Day is a cookout, maybe some pool and lawn games, and a warm day (not the hot ones that we have had most of the summer). Hang out by the pool and have a night swim.
Ellen Gaskill, Oak Bluffs
The perfect day to end the summer.
Low humidity, blue skies, fluffy clouds, and sunshine today would have been enough for me these days, but a surprise visit with a friend on the harbor for lunch made it even better. The harbor was quiet, much like the end of September, I had to remind myself it’s only August!
In these days of COVID, I find I do spend more time at home, and so I choose my time out and about carefully. What today gave me was my perfect day, my perfect end-of-summer day.
Hunter Moorman, West Tisbury
Let’s face it: A really perfect day would be free of the ever-present threat of COVID-19; we’d meet up with friends, have a romantic dinner at a restaurant, catch a flick at the Film Center. Still, even within the constraints of staying safe, life on Martha’s Vineyard is already so rich and full of opportunity that pickings for the perfect day are plentiful. Truth is, most days here could count as “perfect” days.
We begin this particular day with breakfast and a vicarious biplane ride at the Right Fork, where we haven’t been for a long time. Before leaving the house, we make a quick reservation with The Trustees at Long Point for a swim later that morning. We haven’t been there all summer either. I enjoy strolling the Edgartown streets and popping into the galleries, but we’ll skip the parking headaches and head back via Morning Glory for some fresh corn before turning down the long, dusty road to the beach.
The ocean water will finally be warm enough for this boy raised on the waters of the Delmarva Peninsula and the Outer Banks. Probably no bodysurfing for me these days, but we’ll enjoy treading water and bobbing with the waves, and then give our calves a workout walking up and down the beach, making a detour to the kiddie pond along the way, where parents are settled under their umbrellas while their kids splash around in the quiet waters. Wary of sun exposure, we don’t stay long — another Island treasure now beckons.
Continuing on toward West Tisbury, we stop off at the airport for some fish and a dry white, and weigh whether there’s time to poke our noses in at the Granary or Field Gallery or both. It’ll break my heart to have to pass up the semi-shuttered W.T. library, but just thinking about it warms my heart.
With lunch in the back of our mind, we head down South Road to Menemsha. Of course it’s a lobster roll we’re after. If the Galley back deck is open, we’ll buy it there and settle down to savor it and the restful view.
Since we drove up South Road and are on Middle Road often, it’s back via the less-well-traveled North Road, and zip over for an after-lunch walk at the Polly Hill Arboretum. There can be no more restorative spot on the Island. That grand copper beech and so many other beautiful trees and shrubs will be putting on their fall finery, grasses and sumacs alive with color, and we’ll choose to hug the shadows or cross the open fields depending on our mood. We’ll sit for a spell on a bench given in memory of a dear friend. The view of the Far Barn, the Library, and the Botany and Education Lab reminds us the Arboretum has intellectual resources to match its horticulture riches.
I’ll leave it to my wife to drive the car back home, just up the road, while I mosey back through the Ag Hall grounds, another Vineyard and West Tisbury institution that means so much to the Island and to us. I hope I still have an hour for some reading — along with many others, I’m attacking “Ulysses” under Phil Weinstein’s expert tutelage.
Then there are green beans to pick from the garden and corn to shuck. Fish goes on the grill in a bit, but now it’s time for a well-deserved cocktail on our deck. We end most days this way, sitting quietly, enjoying the view out over the Whiting Fields to the hedgerow beyond. Nature watching might bag us a deer or two, a hawk soaring with lazy purpose far above, and even higher up, a jet making its way from JFK to CDG. We can dream. There may be dinner on the deck or in front of the TV (Netflix consumes almost as much of our time as Zoom these days), but this quiet hour together in the place we’ve made home is the fulfillment of our perfect day.
Melinda Loberg, Vineyard Haven
Well, there are many ways to have a “perfect day” on the Vineyard. For me, there has to be some time out in Tashmoo quahogging or digging steamers. If I’m alone, it’s so meditative. If I’m with my family, it’s quite a circus, but always time well spent. Plus we can look forward to a large pot of steamers and some stuffies on the deck later.
For my family and visitors, most of this day will revolve around the water. Some will go fishing, and others will dream up a delicious way to eat the catch. I will take my best friend or my grandchildren for a long beach walk. On a perfect day, we will find some exceptional sea glass. We will address questions big and small, and gain some insight into each other’s lives. When the wind comes up in the afternoon, I will take a sail on my ancient Sunfish, hoping to transfer my waning sense of adventure to the next generation of sailors. This 73-year-old body sometimes has trouble accomplishing this with perfect grace, but I try not to dwell on it.
Later, while everyone is reading or resting, three or four of us will tackle the latest NYTimes Sunday crossword, which I have been jealously guarding for just this special moment. My son and daughter have now eclipsed me in the speed with which they supply answers to the clues. While I protest loudly, I am secretly so proud they have ably embraced this family tradition, just the way I’m sure my father felt when I provided him with clues he couldn’t quickly retrieve.
The day ends, naturally, with a beach fire, stargazing, and s’mores for the kids. Luckily, the grandchildren always make one for their grandmother, Mimsy. Yes, a perfect day. And COVID can’t change that.