The Fourth came and went with little of the pageantry and fuss of Fourths past. It was still more celebratory than 2020s, though that bar wasn’t set particularly high. I am not one who particularly enjoys communal activities where the potential to rub shoulders is high, so an event like the Edgartown parade isn’t high on my list of must-dos. But still. I miss the anticipation and the preparation. There is something comforting and comfortable about a community all pulling in the same direction. There is an excitement to queuing up for the Chappy Ferry, pre-parade. Something fairly electric is about to happen. Absent that collective energy, the Fourth fails to inspire the same sense of wow. Next year will be different, I am certain.

Fireworks were also among the missing this holiday. I kept waiting for the percussive eruptions that I’ve been programmed to expect from years of Chappy summers. Lacking the booms, though, I was still treated to a pretty cool light show provided by the lightning bugs in the bittersweet. I’ll never tire of firefly season; it resonates with the past and present me. They are like the crickets, peepers and the phosphorescence that are uniquely imprinted on my soul as wonderful.

My wife, Arlene, and son, Etienne, are visiting this week. Activities have included Etienne waving hi to a record-setting 534 consecutive passersby on Main street in Edgartown, some crash courses in golfing, a swim at the Chappy Point and countless trips on the Chappy Ferry.

Working a job is a rarely seamlessly integrated into one’s family life and even less so into a family vacation. I find it challenging to keep up with both Etienne and the golf course without sacrificing the quality of my time with either. I am so grateful, however, for any time that I can share with Etienne on Chappy. He was born here and lived his first life here but has experienced Chappy in only dribs and drabs since then. There is no possible way to simply describe what a Chappy summer feels like: it needs to be felt in person. Watching Etienne’s hair tousled by the breeze on a trip across the harbor, and his eyes twinkled by the reflected sea, I can feel Chappy seeping into him, and the magic becoming a art of his being and history. I won’t need to try to impress upon him how special a Chappy summer can be because he’ll know it. He’ll know it.

The golf course hosted a couple of events over the prior weekend: a 14-hole golf tournament (which are all the rage these days even if people have yet to realize it) and a 175-person wedding. The tournament was fun but exhausting. Resources, time and mental fortitude were all stretched to their limits. The input seemed a bit larger than the output but I expect most party planners experience a similar disproportionate energy return. I’ve tried now for over 30 years to recreate what my grandparents achieved for the 30 years prior to that: a wacky but seriously competitive summer event. I think I realize that I will always fall short because there is no way to materialize the festive fun that is borne out of intimacy. The participants of Ham and Mary’s Labor Day club championships in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s had the luxury of familiarity and the history of shared experience. Their crowd was a homogeneous one, easily blended to a cohesive whole. Much harder to recreate these days but I will keep trying because we depend on social interaction to survive. It is a solitary game that dissolves in the solitaire but thrives in thrives in a plurality. It is a game that relies heavily on its retelling for its charm.

The wedding, on the other hand, was super easy. I am likely to expect stress and gnashing of my own teeth for such a large gathering. But those feelings are rendered greatly impotent by the skill, planning and professionalism of the people involved. Emily Carol and her fiancé Jarod left nothing to question in their respect of the land and their preparedness for the day. It was an absolutely lovely night and one that left nothing but fine feelings in the hearts of all involved. When something is planned well, and the intent is good, it is often far less obtrusive than something 10 times smaller but irresponsibly imagined. Godspeed to the young couple. May they forever have a bed made ready for visiting memories in their hearts.