My Love Affair with Nantucket
A NEW YEAR ON NANTUCKET
We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring will be
to arrive where we started and know
the place for the first time.
--T. S. Eliot
Tomorrow night is New Years Eve, and I believe that given what has been going on in the world today, many of us are ready to end 2016 and move into a new year. It has been a stressful year in a multitude of ways—politically and personally. I love that with a new year, we can have a new beginning—a fresh start. I am looking forward to my third full year on Nantucket.
Ironically, right now I am not on the Island, and I won’t be back on Nantucket until February 1. I am currently in Colorado where I have had Christmas with my oldest daughter and her two daughters. It wasn’t a white Christmas—but it was a wonderful Christmas. My guess is that New Years Eve will be quiet. One of the girls is going to the Mountains with another family for the weekend and even the younger daughter has plans with friends. It will be just Chrissy and me, and a small celebration. I am not even sure that we will actually make it up to see the ball drop on TV. Then on January 5, I will head to Corpus Christi, Texas to visit a dear friend and to work with her on her second book. I return to Nantucket on February 1.
While it is fun to visit family and friends, I will be happy to be home. Being away from Nantucket, reminds me of how much I love it. When I am away from Nantucket, I am always aware of what a special place it is. I often wonder what makes Nantucket different from other communities that I have lived in. Perhaps it is because it is an island. On an island in winter, we depend on each other. We learn to take what comes in stride. One may go to Hyannis for shopping or a doctor appointment and end up having to stay for two days because the ferries are not running. Conversely, one may not be able to get off the island because of weather. The stores may be out of something you need, so you turn to other islanders to find it. We see each other daily, so we need to be kind and thoughtful. And, we all know it takes a special breed of person to love living on an island full time—perhaps this, most of all, binds up together. Sure, like anywhere in the world, bad things can happen on Nantucket, but when they do, the community pulls together to find solutions.
I generally check my email each morning, and I also check the Nantucket Facebook groups at the same time. Each time I read the posts in groups like ASK NANTUCKET, NANTUCKET YEAR ROUND, and NANTUCKET BOOK SWAP, I am reminded that Nantucket is really a community where people care about each other, the environment, and the animals we love. I will give you just a small taste of what people have to say:
- One person asks if there is a list somewhere of elderly folks who need their driveways shoveled after snowfall. Not only is this person interested in helping, but readers mention an Islander who “spearheads shoveling for those who need it.” Several respondents say they would like to help shovel driveways as well.
- There are team challenges for healthy living in the new year.
- An elderly lost cat was found, cared for, and the person posting was hoping to find the owner. Forty-seven people commented, and the owner was found and the two were happily reunited. Along the same lines, when a big, white rabbit was sighted trying to cross Milestone Road, readers tried to determine if it was wild or had been lost from a home.
- Nantucket Hockey is donating all of the proceeds from a Whaler game for the parents of two young men in Falmouth who tragically died in a car accident. People are invited to attend the game and information is given on how to donate more.
- Someone needed Christmas wrapping paper. Ten people offered paper.
- Another Nantucket resident is putting together a list of the talent on the Island so that we can all recycle, repair, and reuse things rather then replacing them.
- A call went out for anyone who would like to carol at the homes of the elderly or shut-ins.
- Someone wants to know where to donate winter coats.
- And on and on and on. I could fill pages with notices about lost items that have been found and now the finder is trying to trace the owner to return them. When a pet or a bike is lost, people volunteer to go out to look for it. People exchange information, express joy, comfort each other in times of sadness, and feel a deep sense of connection. I am sure this is true in other places, but—for me—Nantucket exemplifies this sense of community and connection better than any other place I have ever lived.
So, as T.S. Eliot says in the quotation that begins this article, coming back to Nantucket—even after a short hiatus—is always both familiar and new. I return to a place I know—but I also return to a place that is ever changing—which is probably why I will never tire of Nantucket. Like the ebb and flow of the tides that surround the island, Nantucket is never static.