Relay: Summer Is Great, But Oh, the Fall!

The air is crisp, the fields are voluminous, the ocean is warm, the leaves transform into every shade from fiery red to canary yellow

To the dismay of many, Labor Day weekend has arrived, and for Hamptoners it officially marks the end of summer. White, beachy apparel, nautical stripes, and floral bohemian dresses will be stored away for next-summer use, or likely for the holiday season when St. Barth’s, the Bahamas, and Palm Beach seem better suited for weekend tans and holiday getaways than the windy, white winters on the East End. 

For locals, on the other hand, Labor Day weekend marks the finale of a long-awaited three months of pop-up shops, celebrity sightings, summer concerts at the Surf Lodge, hours of traffic, and the inability to get a reservation at just about any and every restaurant.  

While locals will revel in the tranquillity, and travelers will anxiously wait for next year’s Memorial Day weekend to mark a new beginning to summer, ambivalence is undeniable when you’re in not one, but both of these groups. 

Having left home at 15 years old for boarding school, I grew up yearning for summers in the Hamptons, and so did all of the friends I made. Maybe they’d heard about it from their parents, listened to librettos from a multitude of music artists, watched “White Chicks,” or wanted to experience a real-life “Gossip Girl” episode (all of these have ways of infiltrating conversation when you say you’re from Southampton).

Though I suppose the South Fork can be all of those things, the reality of hectic summer months — no beach parking spots, bustling Main Streets, lack of dining availability, and heavy traffic — while far from the glamour “the Hamptons” exudes, had an air of excitement . . . maybe because I, to a degree, was a vacationer . . . a faux local. 

Memorial Day marked my arrival and Labor Day my sendoff to Sheffield, Mass., and eventually Winston-Salem, N.C., but now my days in academia are over. This year I will outlive the expiration date on my summer beach parking sticker and end the seven-year streak of spending September elsewhere, and while it’s a bit unsettling, I’m equally thrilled. The weather (insert emoji with heart eyes)!

For the record, all those episodes and songs . . . they’re misleading. Sure, summer is great, but oh, the fall. . . . The air is crisp, the fields are voluminous, the ocean is warm, the leaves transform into every shade from fiery red to canary yellow, the roads are open, light beams glisten and bounce off everything in their direct line, and the sunsets. . . . Civility takes the wheel and ruckus patiently sits in the passenger seat for a ride through the fall, winter, and spring seasons. 

Maybe it’s the frenzied summers that make falls on the East End so glorious. Maybe it’s just as beautiful, only now we have time to digest it. 

Jackie Pape is a reporter for The Star, and about to spend her first fall on the South Fork.