Nantucket Essays

Nantucket High School
Nantucket Essays

Hoping They’ll Come Home Again

The easiest thing to give up is hope. The engines that power Nantucket are far off and implacable. They don’t respond to picketing, petitions, or letters to the editor. Those engines no longer get their feet wet on-island. We sold them off to live on a winning lottery ticket and a one-way boat ride. We converted our homes into asset instruments.

Time Well Spent
Nantucket Essays

Time Well Spent

In August, if you catch the weather right, you can enjoy Billionaire Beach Day. Last week, at Fisherman’s Beach, the sky glowed, the ocean glistened, and the parking was available. After several days of a pretty heavy southerly wind, the waves wobbled in from the horizon until the hit the shallows, when they climbed to head high and collapsed into a rolling tube. Above the wind and waves, the Bombardiers, the G-7s, and the commercial jets landed and took off over Nobadeer. The people came.

Whale’s Way
Nantucket Essays

Gifts We Give, Gifts We Leave Behind

Changeover day lurks in the middle of the summer. One set of guests leaves and their presence must be eliminated before the next set of guests arrives. Sometimes they leave ghosts behind.
We were asked to help clean a brand new house in Tom Nevers after a week’s rental. A crew of landscapers had come by, fluffed up the hydrangeas and the roses, then buzzed the incandescent grass into a military haircut. The pool people came out, ran a robot over the bottom of the pool, scooped out whatever was floating, then hosed down the deck.

Smith’s Point
Exploring Nantucket, Nantucket Essays

Wild, Wild West

We humans tend to be territorial. People hang out in areas that they like, staying in their comfort zones. Also, we generally stick to routines and, thus, can be fairly predictable. For example, my wife and I have our favorite spot where we sit for church every Sunday. We would be all out of sorts if we had to move to a different location. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? No, but that’s how humans are. And all of these strange traits are directly applicable to us fishing folks, to be sure.

Two Play Dates
Nantucket Essays

Two Play Dates

My morning routine goes like this: Step one – make coffee. Step two – check email while drinking coffee. Step three usually involves looking at the world news and being disgusted. Let’s just ignore step three for now, shall we? Much too depressing.

Nantucket Essays

Tables and Totems

I have been vexed by a closet. Inside, on the floor, drifts of clothes, papers, hats, swim suits, and about fifty shoes in one shape or another. On the walls, on various shelves, are vases, plates, platters, and card board boxes with specific tools that we no longer need. I am not sure if the automatic bubble machine is strictly necessary at this stage of my life

When Jane Austin Came to Town
Nantucket Essays, Nantucket History & People

When Jane Austin Came to Town

According to off-island enthusiasts, visiting Nantucket was something like a trip to a living history museum. As with Rome, the ancient glory of Nantucket had faded, but its heritage remained. An article in Harper’s Magazine from that time drew a connection between Nantucket’s main product— whale oil for lighting—and the experience of the “good old days” that Nantucket now represented. Between the ages of “lusty barbarism” (lighted by tallow) on the one side and “overstrained and diseased civilization” (lighted by kerosene) on the other, stood Nantucket and the “golden age of reason”— lighted by whale oil. Nantucket’s predominantly Federalist-style homes embodied “all the Renaissance classicism of Andrea Palladio as reinterpreted by Inigo Jones, Christopher Wren, and Robert Adam, and then stripped down to its bare essentials for trans-Atlantic shipment, whence it found its way to the houses of American rum merchants and whaling captains. It was the École des Beaux Arts simplified—the grand formal orders of antiquity that America had long consigned to a cobwebby corner of the national attic and forgotten. Above all, it was restrained and dignified, calming, orderly, and elegant, an architecture worthy of the forward-looking, rationalistic culture of the America of the late nineteenth century.”

Pool
Nantucket Essays

Draw of Community on the Isle

On the south shore of the island, downwind of the sewer beds, you can rent a house for $25,000 a week. For that money, you get two master bedrooms and two guest bedrooms. Each bedroom has an “en suite” bathroom and a television set. The master bedroom, of course, features a “state of the art” shower. The house is less than a mile downwind from the beach..

Ducks
Nantucket Essays

Living in a Myth?

The Maine turnpike goes through a lot of nature. It wanders through hundreds of miles of pine trees, oaks, and salt water rivers. On our way south from Boothbay, with presents in the back, cupcakes in the front, Dar Williams on Spotify, and the air conditioning humming, we came across Momma Duck.