The sands are shifting in October. The cars depart downtown early, leaving the sidewalks to the leaves and gulls. The visitors still come to the beaches, and, on particularly warm afternoons when the sky is Canadian blue and the water rolls, the islanders will venture out for another visit. But that stretch of Nobadeer that had so many towels and bodies and surfboards lies empty. Your footsteps will stay for days.
Labor Day has crept upon us, tardy and idle. It slips up after the great tide of summer tourism has turned. Nobadeer has opened up, the waves are available at Cisco, and the surf fisherman can reclaim Madaket. Across the island, the traffic has eased. The weekdays remain crowded with pickups and vans, but you can make left hand turns on the weekends.
The storm dropped a period on the summer.
It stopped the Opera House Cup. It grounded the Rainbow Fleet. It closed the harbor. All across the world, as Jim Cantore got excited and the cone tightened, people watched the storm take aim at Nantucket.
The big red sign said “Stop! Don’t come in! Stay Outside!”
So she came in.
Lily was picking up sandwiches and drinks and cookies. Lily was wearing a darling beach coverup with tassels and little silvery beads. Her sandals didn’t exactly match, but they didn’t clash either. They were cute. And she was receiving a text.
Lily didn’t deserve to get yelled at. She thought.
They brought the Oldest Member down to the beach after his nap. He didn’t want to go.
They were all there and he knew why.
The Oldest Member was turning 98 today. The number was absurd, as is any number over 75. His mother had had the consideration to give birth during the month of August, so that his family always had a good reason to visit when the water was warm, the surf was high, and tomatoes were plump. Had the great blessed stork visited her a few months earlier, and had he been born in March, he suspected that his birthday would not be quite so well attended.
Only one person used a cell phone.
Over Sconset, God sealed his covenant in cerulean blue. A light breeze shuffled the scrub oak leaves in Larsen Park and shifted the straw hat on a woman who had turned down a job offer because it began in August and she just couldn’t go right now.
She had been here a month.
From an Ivy League school, emerging from two years of pandemic college education, she stopped off on the back of the vegetable truck on Main Street. By this time in the morning, she was only selling zucchini, broccoli, and a few odd wildflowers. But it was a good day. She was wearing a tie-dye work shirt, white sneakers, and a big smile. “Everyone has been so…nice.”
“Do you want a piece of me?”
He did not look tasty.
He was well over seventy, bald, with a gray Van Dyke beard, a yellow Vineyard Vines shirt, and a visor. He was standing behind the hood of his white-and-gold Mercedes SUV. His wife had just backed into a Jeep and was ready to drive away until they saw me. I had started recording the two of them.
We went to the movies for the first time in a year or so. The superheroes were on the big screen, the sound shook the seats, and no one looked back at the explosions. In front of us, a string of teenagers needled each other and glanced at their phones. We were glad to be there, glad to be maskless, and glad that they were making popcorn again.