It’s almost Labor Day weekend, that giant exhalation that signals what is usually the most dramatic transformation of the year here. The last week of August is already quieter, calmer than the weeks just before it. Many summer visitors have already left to get the kids ready for school. Summer workers have gone back to college or taken off for one last fling before the next school year or the next job starts.
But the difference between the Saturday and Monday of Labor Day weekend is unlike any other change. A stillness descends as the last stragglers make their way to the bridge. Exhausted workers and businesspeople take a deep breath of September air and make plans to go for a swim in the still warm ocean, see their friends again, and take a nap.
It has been a strange summer of ricocheting highs and lows. The unprecedented numbers of renters and tourists, the extreme shortage of help as business boomed, the cold and rainy weekends, the feeling of liberation at being vaccinated and marvelously mask-free, then stunned by the breakthrough infections and new restrictions, the sudden disappearance of the crowds, the relief that the infections weren’t so bad, the plague of mosquitos, the cool nights and clear days — all of it combining in a cacophony of confusing sensations.
Usually, Labor Day is a time to stop and rest, to savor the last of summer with a long walk, a barbecue, a fire on the beach. We need all those things badly. But here at the paper, the news reminds of other realities that demand our attention.
With this issue, the Independent delves into an investigation that K.C. Myers has worked on for many weeks, about the prevalence of dangerous drugs on the Cape and the efforts of one woman, Kim Powers, to safeguard the lives of those who are addicted. It’s not exactly light vacation reading, or the type of piece that the chamber of commerce is going to promote on its website. But it’s a story that everyone here needs to know.
There were four deaths from drug overdoses on the Outer Cape last year — two in Eastham and one each in Wellfleet and Provincetown. Our local rescue squads responded to between 20 and 30 other overdose calls.
Powers travels all over the Cape every week, taking calls from drug users and distributing clean syringes to prevent the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C and fentanyl test strips to keep her clients from dying because of adulterated heroin. She is trusted, and her list of clients grows larger every week.
What Powers is doing — on her own — is endorsed by the most knowledgeable addiction treatment authorities. Yet there is no public health agency or nonprofit organization that has stepped forward to help her and the vulnerable, largely invisible population she serves.
On Kim Powers’s weekly schedule, Monday is Outer Cape day. Is she going to rest and take Labor Day off? I doubt it. We will be thinking of you on Monday, Kim.