Dawn came a little later to Martha’s Vineyard today as the waning late-summer sun rose over Edgartown Harbor, chasing away the shroud of night and wisps of early morning mist that dance like wraiths across the cerulean waters.  The air is thick with the briny scents of fish and seawater as local fisherman haul in today’s catch while anyone else with a boat and rod competes in the renowned Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.  Pumpkins line the weathered railings and shelves at the local farms and migrating geese make the island their home for a day or two before continuing their flight south.  The waters around the island are almost as warm as the air itself and each day seems more beautiful than the one before, albeit shorter.  Indeed, when the last rays of today’s September sun vanish beyond the shores of Menemsha beach, setting the sky ablaze in an awe-inspiring eruption of blue, violet, red, orange, yellow and grey, they will do so earlier than yesterday. Tomorrow night will come earlier still.  Yes, after yet another beautiful summer we are welcoming autumn to the Vineyard as we say goodbye to the vacationing families and summertime friends new and old alike. Now is the calm after the storm as local shops and restaurants transition from the busy summer season.

What signals the end of one season however also heralds the beginning of another.  As the tourism industry slows to a crawl local athletics reach a fever pitch with students back in school and back on the field of competition.  As the area plant life fades from lush greens and bright floral tones to the warm reds, yellows and browns that make New England famous, so too will the rusted red pants and light blue collared shirts that typify island life in the summer  be replaced by the rich “Vineyard Purple” of the high school’s athletic teams.  Each September renews the eternal promise of another season filled with high spirits and higher hopes.  The high school fields which lay silent all summer, except of course when Martha’s Vineyard’s beloved Sharks were playing, once again echo with cheering crowds, the crunching crash of colliding pads, the whistling “thwack!” of golfers teeing off, the muted thud of a well-kicked soccer ball, the resounding knock of field hockey sticks, and the lightning-quick pitter patter of track shoes racing by.

Elsewhere all around the island pickup soccer, softball and Frisbee games are springing up as islanders who spent their summer busy working or relaxing on the beach return to the fields to reconnect with the sights and sounds of sport, the smell of grass, and the feel of a ball, bat or disc between their fingers.  Above all, we take comfort in familiar faces and find camaraderie among great friends, great weather and great outdoor fun as Martha’s Vineyard coasts into its fabled golden autumn.