As an assuredly busy, sometimes challenging, often rainy, and definitely different summer draws to a close, several thoughts, events, and lessons are swirling around in my squash.

First, and most notably, I continue to marvel at and offer heaping amounts of praise and gratitude to our small business owners and the workers that helped them through this strangest of seasons. In a perfect storm of conditions brought on by the pandemic, we experienced—at the same time—one of our busiest summers and one of the most challenging years in memory to recruit and retain employees for local businesses. That made for some difficult dynamics. Some people accepted that change in circumstances and responded with patience and kindness. I witnessed many times patrons offering sincere thanks and leaving larger than normal tips as a sign of solidarity and recognition of the extra efforts of local workers. Of course, and unfortunately, the occasional unruly, ungrateful, and unhappy patron reared their unpleasant visage from time to time as well, but they were invariably met with pleasant but stern reminders from others that staffing issues are simply a reality this year. The mean people never won.

So, let me begin this end of summer review with a big and enduring “THANK YOU” to the workers who waited tables, scooped ice cream, folded T-shirts, pumped gas, and performed innumerable other tasks to ensure that our local economy continued to chug along, and provided those much-needed services to our residents and visitors alike. Without you and your tireless but smile-filled summer, Falmouth would have been a much different—and much dimmer—place this summer.

And with the days of August and of this summer dwindling, several end-of-season traditions are occurring that allow us to get outside, support artisans and authors, make some music and merriment, and just help to remind us of the many ways to keep us connected as a community.

The Falmouth Rotary Club’s 21st annual Arts & Crafts Fair will be held September 4 and 5 at the Falmouth Marine Park and feature nearly 60 vendors sharing their creative and artistic wares, from baked goods to bracelets, from handcrafted jewelry to handmade clothing, along with many other forms of artistic expression.

The fair has become part of the end of season tradition in Falmouth and, at a very reasonable $3 admission, is a great way to support the multiple charitable works of the Falmouth Rotary Club while gaining access to local artisans with the chance to support them as well. Rotary president Paul McCadam reminded me this week of some of those incredibly good works, including the donation of more than $100,000 worth of tents to support the innovative Falmouth outdoor learning project and support of the Joe Q Coffee Break veterans center at the former senior center on Dillingham Avenue. Falmouth’s Rotary Club was recently recognized as number one in all of the New England District for helping its community cope with the impacts of the pandemic. Supporting this craft fair is just one of the many ways that the Falmouth Rotary Club raises funds to be that valuable community partner.

At the event, there will be live entertainment, including the Shining Sea Strummers and Surf Drive Band on Saturday and the Turning Point Dance Studio on Sunday. Burgers, hot dogs, and other treats will be available for purchase, making this a one-stop family fun event.

This weekend, the Friends of the Falmouth Library’s annual book sale will return to the library lawn after a one-year hiatus, bringing the joy of reading and thousands of books back for what is also an annual event that is part of our late summer traditions. Each year, I overload on inexpensive but valuable tomes, and promise myself I’ll read them all and read them one at a time. I invariably break both promises, but remain grateful for a wonderful collection of books in my home library. The book sale will occur all weekend and all proceeds benefit the great work of the Friends of the Falmouth Public Library, the nonprofit arm of our library, which funds technology upgrades, physical improvements, and family-friendly items like museum passes. This is an annual event not to be missed.

On another note (pun intended), my old friend and perpetual purveyor of gratitude and gladness Annie Hart Cool sent along a notice of the “Worldwide Play Music on the Porch Day” being held Sunday, August 28. Across the globe, people are encouraged to play, sing, and simply share the joy of music—no porch required. It’s really a thing, and they even have a website: It’s just one more way to show our friends, our neighbors, and even the grumpy patrons at our favorite restaurant that our sense of community and our resolve to be better together is more powerful than any pandemic.

So again, thank you to the workers who made this summer of strange possible, and here’s to these and other events that bring us all together.

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