Fall is the opposite of spring. Nowhere have I seen the contrast of the two as obvious as on Martha’s Vineyard. In April, we see a world coming slowly and ambitiously to life. I’m not just talking about the overnight sensation of your brown lawn suddenly showing little patches of lime green. I liken what happens here to ants coming back out of the ground. Suddenly, workmen on ladders are taking plywood down from windows and sprucing up storefronts, and shopkeepers are dusting and sweeping and carting in new merchandise. Seasonal homeowners, fed up with winter, venture back to open up musty houses in hopes that it will hasten the advent of summer. And if we’re lucky enough to get some sunny weekends, brave souls in shorts, but still wearing layers of sweatshirts, descend on the towns to get a jump on the new season. Those of us who live here have fun taking note of the local merchants who move to new venues, thinking the change will bring them a better season than the last. The most positive sign that things are on the upswing is the first time the ferry pulls into Oak Bluffs since last fall. Hope is definitely in the air.
Ah, but I am a fall person. I’ve never bought the theory that it’s a time when everything dies or goes to sleep. There’s a tingle in the air that makes this time of year at least as promising as spring. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know how I feel about the colors of fall, the long shadows, and the unique quality of the light of October and November. Driving my daily commute from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, I can barely keep my eyes on the road the marsh grasses on the pond are such a delicious palette of ochres, rusts, greens, and lavenders. And the road, as it takes you toward the Triangle is dappled with sunlight filtering through the tunnel of the tree limbs overhead. You have to beware of deer, fooled by the autumn light into thinking it’s evening, running out in front of you here.
The whole experience is spring in reverse. One by one, we watch the seasonal stores and restaurants locking their doors and posting, “Thank you for a great season” signs in their windows. Now is the time to take advantage of fabulous sales. No department stores with specially brought in sale merchandise here. What you get is dramatically marked down prices on all the unique items you were eyeing in August. Bring your holiday gift list.
You’ll find that activities and entertainment don’t disappear when we roll up the beaches. In fact, there is no better time than an autumn day for a long walk on a beach that was closed to all but town residents in the summer. We still have theater right through the holidays. We have concerts and dance parties, complete with pre-party lessons. Nature walks and kayaking are breathtaking events. Restaurants have specials and two-for-one nights (more on those specials soon). And local bay scallops are in season!
Where we island people made note of location changes in the spring, we now take joy in counting the restaurants that are staying open for the off season. This year, there are several special new ones; State Road in West Tisbury, Deon’s in Oak Bluffs, The Atlanticin Edgartown, and The Mediterranean in its new Oak Bluffs location. Come enjoy dining with the locals who venture out to dine after the throngs have dispersed. You’ll find some of us may be a bit quirky, but in general, we’re a very nice lot and enjoy talking to the visitors who, like us, appreciate our island at this special time of year.