HARWICH — The south wind whispered across Nantucket Sound last Thursday shortly after the equinox drew the line on autumn. But with 80-degree temperatures, little wave movement from the light south wind on Nantucket Sound, and the sand at Bank Street Beach still hot beneath the feet, it was hard to believe summer was in the rear view mirror.
Bank Street Beach parking lot was three-quarters full and beach umbrellas were still plugged into the sand as people were enjoying mid-summer warmth on the first day of fall.
The Chronicle took to the beach to get reactions from beachgoers on the unseasonably warm temperatures and to find out whether people attribute such conditions to climate change.
“It doesn't feel like autumn at all, it feels like a beach day in July,” said Melissa Berry of Meriden, Conn. She and her husband, Bruce, were in Harwich vacationing until the end of the week.
“It feels like the last day of summer,” Bruce Berry quipped.
Speaking to global warming, Bruce Berry said he absolutely believes in it, adding he doesn't “know if it's man-made or not, but we're certainly not helping it.”
“It's a beautiful place, with blue skies and clean water. I'm here for the ocean and not the sun,” said Hanna Chu, visiting from Nashua, N.H. with Zhiping Wei.
“We all have a responsibility to preserve this,” Wei said.
Speaking to the global warming question, he said it has to be based on fact. “I believe the scientists. They say, yes, it's up by one or two degrees,” Wei said. “Though, if you look back a million years there is a temperature cycle. But I am concerned how much the human contribution is to it. We do have a responsibility to preserve the earth.”
“Autumn to me is October, which is probably the nicest month on the Cape,” said local resident Dick Ellis. “This is a bonus, but September is the elongation of August. We catch a break with two or three days of 80-degree weather when we can go home and cook a few hot dogs. It's a bonus day and we like bonuses.”
As for global warming, Ellis said he has no idea, “But people who are smarter than me are concerned so I have to be concerned, so I recycle.”
A couple from Northfield sitting under a colorful beach umbrella they just purchased at Benny's were enjoying their anniversary. While willing to talk, were reluctant to provide their names.
“This is the best day, best beach, best weather,” the woman said, adding “and the best anniversary.”
Do they believe in global warming?
“Yes,” her husband said. “It's hard to say no, for nine straight months it's been the warmest ever. It's been nice on the heating bill.”
The couple comes to Harwich for four or five days a year, looking forward to nice September weather. “It's nice to enjoy a rare day like this. I don't feel grateful about global warming, but it's nice to have this on our anniversary,” he said.
John Johnson was visiting from the Adirondack Region in upper state New York and he said he comes with a couple of friends and stays at a house of another friend in Harwich for a week or so after the crowds have gone.
“If it were like this every year, wow, the sunsets have been unbelievable. This is a perfect day, if you come in the summer it's cheek to jowl,” he said.
His friend, Luis Rodriquez, who lives in New Jersey, said he was amazed at the water. “The water is so nice. You don't want to get out of it.”
As for global warming, Johnson said he's concerned about it. “Anyone who reads science knows that. We're both in our 70s and we've seen the change. New England is not getting as hot as Georgia and North Carolina. We're not having the extreme heat here.”
Harwich town hall employees Elaine Banter and Marie Carlson pulled into the Bank Street parking lot in Banter's convertible for a little lunch break.
“It's the most gorgeous, yummy day of the month,” Banter said.
“I hope it's not luring us into a false sense of security going into the fall,” Carlson added.
“I believe the earth temperature is cyclical,” Banter said of climate change.
“It benefits our economy,” added Carlson, citing the crowd drawn to the beach that day.