It’s after Labor Day. The ferries have carried away thousands of tourists, vacationers, and seasonal residents. There’s no official count, but except for a few events, there will be far fewer Ferraris, Maseratis, Harleys, and other high-end machines. They’ll continue to be represented by full-time residents; but the ratio returns to favor pragmatic pickups, econo-cars, and plenty of cars that should probably never leave the island (according to one local mechanic.) The quieter times begin.
Just ask the folks at the ferry system. Peak Season is from May 1 to September 30. Traffic has already dropped. In a few weeks the prices will drop, too. Ferry lines shall shrink. Getting on and off the island will become easier – at least on the south end. Soon, the ferry to Port Townsend will probably drop to a one boat service, and may run into weather delays. That’s the nature of a smaller boat challenging one of the toughest passages in the system.
There are plenty of other subjective ways to notice the change: shorter waits for seats at restaurants, more room in the theaters, more spaces available in the campgrounds. Now’s the time many islanders explore the island, dropping into places they avoided for the last few months.
It’s a narrow window between the tourist season and winter. September and October contain an enjoyable blend of harvest festivals and farmers markets, the tail end of outdoor performances and dances, with a backdrop of the island’s fall colors. Big leaf maples, Oregon grapes, and a wide variety of ornamentals show off for a few weeks. Even the weather helps as the first rains clear the summer haze opening views to the mountains that wait for their first snows. It’s already freezing up there, while down here many furnaces have yet to turn on. Sweater weather creeps in for the mornings and late evenings.
Businesses will begin shifting their hours, trying to find that balance between recuperating from the frenzied summer in time to prepare for the holiday shopping season. Schools, however, get busy and their bells can be heard in their neighborhoods. Yellow buses are running their routes, picking up students patiently waiting with their parents.
Marinas see a flow of boats onto land and long-term storage. Fish breathe a sigh of relief, or would if they could.
It’s a good time to order firewood, work the cider press, switch seasonal wardrobes, and maybe put the convertible in the garage for a while. Studded tires can wait, and have to wait, but not much longer.
The rains are back. Small thunderstorms that wouldn’t make the news in most of the US are dramatic topics of conversation as the land gives up some of its heat to air that’s finally bringing in moisture from the Pacific. That may be the closest some cars and trucks get to being washed for the last few months.
Not the Ferraris, though. They always look perfect.