Last week we ran a story on what some of our readers would consider a perfect way to spend a beautiful late summer day on the Vineyard. Picking up where we left off, more readers wrote about communing with nature, late afternoon dips in the sound, and the euphoria of swordfish cooking on the grill. We also got some thoughts on how Labor Day might be different this year than in days past. So have a read, live vicariously through others’ perfect days, or even better, have a perfect day for yourself.
Dan Waters, West Tisbury
Having lived here since 1977, I find that being satisfied with simple joys is crucial to living happily on Martha’s Vineyard.
A perfect late summer day would mean an early start on a crisp, sunny dawn that evokes the lazy autumn days ahead. Breakfast would be coffee with an English muffin, brought to perfection by a dollop of Linda Alley’s pink grapefruit marmalade. Then there might be a long and glorious walk at Cedar Tree Neck or Fulling Mill Brook, camera in hand to catch the slant of the sun.
There are always projects, so the afternoon might be spent in the studio developing film or scanning negatives. A late afternoon nap with the cats is required, regardless of the day of the week. Dinner would probably be a steaming pot of sweet, fresh-picked Morning Glory Farm corn with salt and butter, enjoyed on the screened porch as the sun goes down. Then, if the mood is right, there might be something on Netflix.
Before COVID-19, Labor Day was a day to collapse and relax after an arduous three-day selling marathon at the Vineyard Artisans Festival at the Ag Hall. A celebratory trip to a restaurant might have been in order. This year there was no Artisans show, and a restaurant may not be in the picture until 2022.
Art Smadback, Edgartown
Ordinarily, Diane and I would be trying to plan for one or another of our boys to visit us. Our family activities would surround meals and activities such as going to the beach with our grandson, or taking a hike on one of the many Vineyard trails. We would be grilling swordfish for dinner, and enjoying the last of the summer light and warmth. However, 2020 has changed most of that. Today, with COVID looming over all aspects of life, Diane and I might go to the beach by ourselves, with Diane’s favorite, sushi, in our picnic basket, and enjoy a few hours of peace by the sea with a good book, which might not even be read as we contemplate summer’s end and what the fall will likely bring.
Hopefully, it would still end with swordfish on the grill (Do you see a pattern here?), and a socially distanced cocktail in our backyard with some friends. Having to deal with the realities of COVID has deepened my appreciation for the many social interactions I used to take for granted.
Elliott Dacher, Aquinnah
Summer days are the most carefree days of the year. For a brief, precious moment, we’re no longer constrained by schedules, mundane responsibilities, habitual routines, and the self-imposed guilt of laziness. For a short and blessed moment, we are granted permission to leave our “doing” mode and drop into a simple carefree “beingness.”
Summer days offer permission to get off the carousel and just be. And that is good, soul-refreshing remembrance of sweet childlike freedom and ease. For me, the morning is often slow, starting with exercise, meditation, and a cup of hot chocolate, enjoyed in the morning sun. Progressively, as the daily sun peaks and softens, a certain “healthy” and respectable laziness sets it. Perhaps it’s time in the hammock reading, meandering down roads, an afternoon nap, or easeful moments of reflection and contemplation.
My mind slows down, body relaxes, the “doer” dissolves for a precious moment, and being, just being present and alive in this miracle of the day, is a cause for gratitude. Laziness in these summer days does not feel like a moral diversion, but rather like a natural fusion with the rhythm and pace of the day.
I allow, or perhaps I can say surrender, to these carefree moments, wondering why this sweetness of life is reserved for summer days. I wonder, can life be a sweet summer day year-round — even in the midst of outer “doings and the inevitable challenges of life”? Can laziness be a special and necessary virtue, opening up inner insights, creativity, communions with nature and others? Is it possible to be carefree and spacious inside while accomplishing one’s day-to-day tasks outside? Is this dear time an intermission from life as usual, or is it teaching me something far more profound? Perhaps, if I could just listen carefully to the whispering beauty of “being,” I might learn something quite profound about life.
Back now to a sweet nap, a glass of Chardonnay, the joy of carefree simplicity, and guiltless laziness.
Russell Maloney, Chilmark
The perfect, pre-COVID, end of summer day for me would start with a light breakfast, outdoor shower, a dip in the pool, followed by an afternoon at the beach. Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and a glass of wine. Off to bed by 10 pm.
The perfect, COVID, end-of-summer day for me would start with prayer for a new president, and more prayer for a new president during lunchtime, followed by an evening of prayer for a new president.
David Stanwood, West Tisbury
The best thing about the pandemic is being with a partner you love spending time with, and sharing the many beauties that come with living among islands. My wife Eleanor and I have almost always managed to be on the water for a sail Labor Day weekend, often with friends. This year it will be just the two of us.
There are some things you can always count on, like the advent of perfect fall weather which always starts on Labor Day weekend, always in the company of clear blue skies and blooming asters. The harbor greets us in the crisp air, and our dear sailboat awaits patiently on her mooring: our magic carpet ready to steal us away. We cast off under sail and silently make our way out among the many pleasure boats. Passing close along the breakwater, we are always greeted by waving beachgoers who feel the magic and beauty of sails passing close by. We strike out into the sound to head across toward the Elizabeth Islands, and find a quiet, secluded cove to drop anchor in.
Time takes on a different meaning as we pass the day in silent peace, solitude, and natural beauty … resting and watching the birds or occasional seal, the changing light on land, sky, and water. Eventually we raise anchor and set sail for home. With a brisk SW wind, we sweep into the harbor, with all hailing the sun setting on the most perfect of all the summer days.
Victoria Riskin, West Tisbury
The roaring engine of summer begins to fade, and I welcome the peace that returns to the Island. My vegetable garden has outgrown its borders, and I search for new recipes to address the overflow of cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce, baby tomatoes. An early morning swim, a small gathering with friends, vibrant conversation on our deck as we watch the ospreys plan their journey south. The lone baby cries for her parents who watch from a nearby tree, letting her know she must now fend for herself. Conception, birth, caregiving, fledgling; the drama of summer winds down. As the sun fades away, the breeze is gentle.
Denise Schepici, Vineyard Haven
The COVID 19 virus sure changed a lot of our favorite things to do, but not all of them. Typically, there would be at least one final beach gathering pre-sunset at one of our favorite places go for a late afternoon dip, bringing along some bubbly and good beach food (all and any food at the beach seems to fit this category) and then watch, if we get lucky, for that sunset that would take your breath away. Well, instead of larger crowds of our friends who all have late August or September birthdays, when we would gather as a group of 25 or so, we are now social distancing in a small group of four to six. We toast to our health, we toast to our great country, praying that it will heal soon, and not soon enough.
As the season fades and turns, I will also toast to everyone at MVH and WNR for their un-relentless passion for caring for our community and for each other, trying not to get too melancholy that we can’t all gather together without masks, so that we can have a real face-to- face celebration to mark the nearing end of summer, with food involved of course. Until then, we’ll mark the days by our continued comradery, teamwork, and spirit, and celebrate all things we cherish on Martha’s Vineyard, even if only in our minds and hearts. And by the sunsets.