An Appeal for Autumn on Block Island

We all know how beautiful a summer day on Block Island can be. But what about the fall?

This past Friday, I made the last-second decision to catch a boat to Block Island and visit my great friend Brandy for the night. From her apartment on Water Street (near the ferry drop-off), I heard some strange sounds just before sunrise on Saturday morning: waves crashing against the breakers, gulls greeting the morning sun, harbor buoy bells ringing in a gentle wake.

I’ve stayed at this apartment a number of times this past summer (and actually lived there during my summer breaks from college) but never once heard the sweet nautical sounds of morning so clearly. The typical soundtrack to the wee hours on Water Street consisted of noisy night owls stumbling beneath the Ice Cream Place archway and roaring Harleys greedily seeking the sunrise.

But it isn’t summertime on Block Island, anymore. While the air was cool on Saturday morning, the late-summer sun was still shining warm and bright. I strolled through the streets, filling my lungs with a taste of early autumn. And I could really concentrate on consuming as much fresh air as possible, since the typically congested intersections and crosswalks were nearly void of traffic. (I can only imagine how asthmatic I looked to the intermittent passer-by). A few mopeds and trucks zoomed by, but the congenial two-finger wave from the steering wheel only led me to believe that the drivers were island residents on their way to work for the day.

As I approached a deserted access path to the beach, I listened for any audible voice that might greet me. Not a soul. I walked from the shallows of Baby Beach down to Scotch and back again; the only footprints I found in the damp sands of a creeping tide were my own.

Believe me, I understand the appeal of a summer vacation on Block Island. With the help of the “Sail away on the Block Island Ferry” radio spot, you really feel like you’re headed to a far-away tropical island.

But where’s the appeal for autumn? After I arrived Friday night, Brandy and I went to Winfield’s and had a cozy, fall-inspired meal of autumn ravioli (which was flawless, I might add). Although the restaurant was reasonably crowded, we went after dinner to the Yellow Kittens and the place was placid in comparison to the packed, energetic summer scene. But with only a few folks around, everyone was ready to make friends with whoever sat beside them on a barstool. (Our best pub buddies of the night were a pair of Grand Funk Railroad-loving, gin and tonic-drinking fishermen in their late sixties looking for a “catch.”)

Not only did I enjoy a merry Friday night and a tranquil Saturday morning, but I did it without having to dodge sidewalk bicyclers or first-time moped drivers or packs of frat boys fist-pumping on the dance floor. For some, a lively summer on Block Island can’t be beat. I’ll take the hushed beauty of the Island in autumn, thank you.