Good-by summer, good-by balmy afternoons, good-by damp towels drying on the porch and sheets bleached sweet and clean hanging on the laundry line. I know — the end of summer, when the northern hemisphere begins its slow tilt away from the sun, won’t happen for a few weeks yet. But I am a New Englander, and for New Englanders the end of summer comes the day after Labor Day.

The transition between seasons isn’t easy for some of us. We are used to going without shoes many hours of the day. The concept of long pants is anathema. We leave the windows in the house open day and night, drawing them closed only when the fog rolls in from the sea. Suddenly it seems as if all the languor of those long hot afternoons has evaporated and we are involuntarily trapped once again in a rapid march toward … winter!

The shift at sea takes a little longer. It’s been an odd summer in the Gulf of Maine this year. The cold spring and early summer contributed to colder-than-usual water temperatures long into July and August, slowing the harvest of lobster. It’s been fairly tranquil and very dry throughout the summer. The lack of major weather systems has had an effect on schooling fish, such as herring, which right now are staying huddled near the seafloor where the water is cooler, making them hard for fishermen to catch. But within the next few weeks it’s likely that the calm which has been the favored state of the Gulf this summer will disappear, either due to the effects of passing hurricanes or because traditional easterly storms will come to dominate the area.

Then all the varied layers of water in the Gulf of Maine will mix with each other again, like a bunch of happy guests at a late-night party. The surface water, which is warmer but by late summer is depleted of oxygen and nutrients, will be pushed by the easterly winds toward the shore, allowing mid- and deep-water layers to rise to the surface. All this mingling will re-invigorate the Gulf for one last blow-out of productivity, the late fall phytoplankton bloom. Despite our tilt away from the sun, the strength of all that electro-magnetism beaming down on the surface of the Gulf remains so great that phytoplankton, those tiny drifting organisms that turn sunlight into sugar, will kick into overdrive again, giving the marine food chain a final dose of energy before the chill of winter.

I will be transitioning as well. I have written this column for The Free Press since 2002 and now, after 15 years, it’s time to stop. “Marine Matters” has, I hope, conveyed to its readers the incredible complexity of the watery world we live adjacent to and its indelible link to every other natural system on the earth. People often ask me how I constantly find something new to write about, to which I generally mumble something about “It’s not that hard!” And it’s not. The ocean concentrates one’s mind wonderfully — it is a conduit not only for gaining scientific knowledge but also for personal understanding, of one’s self and one’s place within the astonishing webs that connect human beings with the rest of nature. Writing a weekly and then biweekly column on whatever I wished has been a great privilege; I thank Alice McFadden for taking a chance on me all those long years ago.

So that’s it. Recognizing that I am not at all in the same league, still I will close by repeating a quote by E.B. White: “All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”