Today is, officially, the last full day of summer. Tomorrow morning at 9:30 or so the autumnal equinox arrives. In Stonington, it feels like the northern hemisphere has been moving speedily away from the sun for some time now. As I write this the temperature outside is a bracing 39 degrees, and you can definitely get a heady whiff of winter in the sharp breeze.
It’s been a unique summer in Stonington, as it has been across the country. The statue of the stonecutter downtown has been masked up for months, and so were most of the people around town. Here, like everywhere else, things that used to be strange and different have become second nature — like donning a mask before entering a building, working remotely with your office in a laptop, or automatically veering off to the other side of the street to keep that social distance from approaching pedestrians.
Some businesses opened, some didn’t, and some found new ways to operate while scrupulously obeying the coronavirus rules. The restaurants that opened seemed to start slow but gather momentum, and our guess is that grateful patrons will feel a long-term loyalty to the places that figured out a way to safely serve food to customers who just had to get out of their houses during a pandemic. The shops in town all stayed open through the season and seemed to do a reasonably good trade, and while the Opera House was closed in 2020 it decided to offer drive-in movies on a big screen set up at the old ballfield and experienced a string of sell-outs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the summer drive-ins become a permanent part of the Stonington arts calendar.
Of course, it wasn’t like a normal summer, and a lot of the things that we enjoyed in the past — like live musical performances at some of the venues around town, and the end of summer Labor Day party in our neighborhood — just didn’t happen this year, for totally understandable reasons. But with summer now ending, the key point seems to be that the town and its businesses made it through, and will still be here next year. That’s not true elsewhere, as thousands of American restaurants and shops and other small businesses closed their doors for good. We’re grateful that our favorite places dodged that bullet.
The summer of 2020 truly has been a summer like no other. We’re not sorry to see it ending, but it’s safe to say we won’t forget it.