We went to the movies for the first time in a year or so. The superheroes were on the big screen, the sound shook the seats, and no one looked back at the explosions. In front of us, a string of teenagers needled each other and glanced at their phones. We were glad to be there, glad to be maskless, and glad that they were making popcorn again.
The backyard has grown in. When we first moved in, the backyard inched up to a stone wall, and then expanded into a low bushes and a marsh before it rose into paddocks and a ridge. The ridge, of course, sprouted houses sometime just after the turn of the millennium. The low brush, on the other hand, was once a place where I stood up the old Christmas tree so that the boys could see it through the spring and summer. Now, those bushes have grown to eight feet or so, and the houses on the ridge are hidden.
She parked her dented pickup in the loading zone for the Hy-Line. Then, she left it with her friend and her luggage. Her landscaper’s pickup truck, redolent of hydrangea and dirt, sat half in traffic, half in the loading zone while a row of cars built up behind her. The rest of us had luggage to drop off, people to bid farewell, and business to conduct. But we were stuck behind her.
Everything you need to know about Nantucket is in the classifieds. The stories may not stand up, grab you by the collar, and shout at you; but if you sit down next to them, hold their hand, and listen quietly, the truth will come out. Then, if you stand up, say thanks, and look around, you can see the world from where you stand.
My mother wanted to go to Disney World.
For most of my young life, she had expressed this wish, although in her own Irish tongue and manner. My father was a skier and felt that any trip in February had best be about snow and chairlifts, not sand and roller coasters. As a result, our vacations tended to involve heading north instead of heading south. Even after her sister took my cousins to Disney World three times—a normal, middle class rite of passage—my father would not relent.
My boon companion and I make a habit of walking Sanford Farm out to the barn, at which point, I sit down and he surveys the scents and smells. In the “R” months, he is able to travel around unabated; those who come walking by are familiar with an unleashed dog, or, at least, they are familiar with this unleashed dog. He tolerates a scratch on the head, or if he is in the mood for something more intimate, the travelers can scratch him on the hindquarters or on the belly. As they leave, his eyes follow them. Then, like a philandering husband, he returns to his longtime partner; he knows where the treats are. I was born lucky.
Snow shovels didn’t get much use this year. They sat at the ready in the front of the shed, poised for action in the snowy New England weather. The ghosts of my childhood clustered around them, holding hands and looking to the sky. Back in the golden age of youth, I shoveled driveways for a few of the neighbors in my childhood home north of Boston. Patterns are useful, I would begin up at the door to the garage, and then heave the snow into a pile, square by square until I came to the snow plows berm. Mr. and Mrs. Boysen would watch from a big picture window while my youth burned their driveway clear, and then they gave me a glass of orange juice and a windmill cookie. And cash. Behind the idle shovels, their ghosts stood with my father and looked at the sky. They may still be there now, but the shovels have retreated to the back of the shed, amid the volleyball nets and historical artifacts from the old Henry’s. The golf clubs have replaced them, with a similar pair of eyes focused on the sky.
In my early years on Nantucket, when cable was new, the movie theaters were closed, and the Internet was a rumor, dinner parties were an adult entertainment where you could talk to each other without shouting. We met on Thursday nights, when everyone was on-island and the chaos was coming to a close. Sarah and I made lasagnas, apple cakes, chowders, and any other page in the cookbook that is currently stained. Even in some tiny galley kitchens, tucked into guest houses and rental basements, Sarah and I made some nice meals.