We have had a run of beach days. A puddle of relatively cool and dry air has sat over New England and spilled out over the Atlantic to about a hundred miles south of the island. Sitting on the shore, the southern press of clouds massed and slid by on the southern horizon. The island lucked into a cool pocket, under light northern winds, through the end of the week and the weekend.
One recent morning, the good fishermen of Madaket woke up to a Land Rover Discovery. It was discovered off the end of the Jackson Point Ramp, in eight feet of the North Atlantic. The owner described it as stolen. And sunk.
Nobody gave us America. At best it is a trophy won from years of war. This war may involve guns and Redcoats, or marches and firehoses, or tear gas and pink hats, but we have always been at war with enemies foreign and domestic. The battles swing from Europe and Asia to Pennsylvania and Chicago, but those battles continue. The labor doesn’t end.
On a June evening full of weddings, we drove out to the Sconset Market for an ice cream. The fog remains ascendent in Siasconset, wrapping the homes, the hedge and the trees in winter’s packing. While town was lit with rehearsal dinners and bachelor parties, Sconset slumbered still.
Main Street has many comfortable seats on a Sunday morning. The dramas and excitement of Saturday night have washed or rolled down the cobbles, and Sunday morning comes gleaming up the harbor. It dapples the bricks through the elms, reflects off the gallery windows, and lights up my coffee cup. The air is cool and clear, the traffic light, and the parade interesting.
The traffic doesn’t come in and out of the elementary school as it used to. Parents are spending an extra moment or two with the kids, hoping that they remember how to smear blood on themselves and play dead if the moment occurs. The building has so many doors, so many windows, and hasn’t become the hard target that all of the good schools aspire to be these days.
In May, the boat trudges. You round Brant Point and watch the houses disappear into the fog, then the jetty fades and you are stuck in-between. In the new millennium, you can cross the Sound with games, movies, or card games. Or you can just watch the fog blow by and wait. When you are stuck in-between, we wait with skill and practice. As soon as we get there, we can get a Big Mac, donuts, and a new iPhone. Until then, we watch the fog tick by.
Not all that long ago, when I believed that my parents would be hosting the holidays for the next few years at least, a question was pressed into my chest. “So,” my uncle asked. “What is it like on Nantucket in the winter.”
Like anyone who has one foot on island and one foot on shore, I had developed a series of responses to this question. Always aware of an opportunity to be an embarrassment and an outrage to my father, I had several samples of island life ready to present.