At 4:23 p.m. on Sunday, the helicopters took off from the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, bringing to an end President Obama’s week-long first vacation since winning office, spent on the Island.

As Mr. Obama, his family and entourage took off, the clouds which had dumped some four inches of rain over the previous two days finally broke, and they left in watery sunshine.

Storms of one sort or another dogged the first family’s vacation. Their arrival, the previous Sunday was delayed as one tropical storm, Bill, swept by the Island. Their enjoyment of the final two days of their break was limited as another, tropical storm Danny, passed.

And midway between those two events came the passing of another force of nature, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

At 2 a.m. on Wednesday, the President was awakened to be told of the death of Senator Kennedy, from brain cancer. The Senator had built a reputation over 47 years as the Democratic Party’s most effective legislator and its most important power broker. His support was widely seen as having been crucial to Mr. Obama’s selection as the party’s Presidential nominee.

President Obama and his wife Michelle interrupted their vacation to attend Mr. Kennedy’s funeral, on Saturday in Boston, leaving shortly before 9 p.m. on Friday evening to beat the approaching tropical storm.

In his eulogy at the funeral Mr. Obama described Senator Kennedy as “the soul of the Democratic Party, and the lion of the United States Senate.”

“I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, as a friend,” Mr. Obama said.

The President and first lady were off-Island for only about 17 hours before returning just before 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Their daughters, Sasha and Malia, stayed on the Vineyard throughout.

It appeared one of the President’s main vacation goals was to improve his golf game; he played four times from Monday to Friday. But the torrential rain ruled out golf on Saturday, and the President and his family retreated to their rented vacation home, Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, for the remainder of that day.

Sunday morning was almost as rain-soaked, but President Obama did briefly get out of the house, for a visit to Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, arriving about 10:40 a.m.

As well as Mr. Obama — who was clad in jeans, sneakers, black jacket and a Chicago White Sox cap — the party included his daughters Malia and Sasha, and the President’s niece, Suhaila, daughter of his sister, Maya Soetoro Ng.

They bought snacks: a packet of Nerds candy, a push pop and ice cream for the girls.

Mr. Obama introduced himself at the counter as he paid, and the woman behind the counter introduced herself as Maya.

“Hey, Maya, that’s my sister’s name,” he said, and pointed to Suhaila Ng. “That’s her mom’s name.”

After leaving Alley’s, the family walked across the parking lot to Garcia’s Deli and Bakery, shaking hands with a few people standing out front before going inside.

“We wanted to stop by before we left,” President Obama told the shopkeeper, and bought himself an oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookie, as well as a packet of gum requested by Malia.

He posed for pictures with the staff before they headed back to the farm, and did not re-emerge until it was time to leave for the airport.

A small number of onlookers waved as the motorcade passed.

And then, at 4:15 p.m., it was time to board the helicopter. A few minutes later they were gone.

It was a different sort of Presidential visit from those Islanders became used to when President Clinton and his family frequented the place. The last-day, unscheduled interaction at Alley’s was perhaps the most like the Clintons’ habitual, unannounced forays into public.

Times have changed, though. Security has become tighter in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. And the Obamas appear also to be more private people.

But by all appearances, and the White House press staff maintained this was true, the new First Family thoroughly enjoyed their time here.

Apart from golfing, President Obama hung out with friends — notably his longtime confidante and advisor Valerie Jarrett — got out for a couple of meals, swam (at a private south shore beach), cycled (at Lobsterville beach) and took in some sights (the Gay Head Light and Cliffs). Mr. and Mrs. Obama only dined out once formally — at the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs.

Deputy press secretary Bill Burton assured last Thursday’s media briefing they would be back.

The question is when. Already the Island rumor mill has them coming back in about a month, for the Island wedding of Chelsea Clinton.

But so far that is nothing more than a rumor.