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Head of the Harbor on the morning of March 6, 2015.

The calm before the swarm

Sky and harbor and ground.
Coatue across the mirror.

On Sunday morning, the dog and I walked east from Pocomo Point toward Wauwinet on what had to have been the calmest, flattest, quietist day up on the Head of the Harbor that I could ever remember.

The calm, meaning absolutely no wind and the quiet, meaning absolutely no sounds other than birds on land, in the air and out on the water, and some very distant barking dog was a lull I hadn't heard since being up in Maine in early February on Vinalhaven. How could it be that there were no planes coming and going between Nantucket and America, no vehicle noise at all, not even any jets flying to Europe? No matter. I was happy to just sit at the top of a set of beach stairs and watch the tide reach higher onto the beach than I can remember without a full or new moon (waning crescent that day).

It embodied one of many answers I've given over the years of living here year-round to curious island visitors nearly baffled that anyone would consider "enduring" a winter on the island asking me what the hell we did with ourselves way out here on the outer edge of Massachusetts. For those who just had to get away for this last school vacation with your family, even you islanders are missing out not being here when it's quiet and peaceful. Still, you have some time to experience the last of the calm before The Season's swarm envelops Nantucket, probably around six or seven weeks until the first of the island's festivals brings the hordes back to the rock. Even less if you want the kind of stillness I found the other day.

Where am I sending you for this respite? Watch the weather first for a calm day, say winds at 5 to 0 mph. Try to hike in the early morning, getting to the start of your hike a half hour before sunrise and then pick a part of the island where you're not likely to see another human and/or canine, preferably where there's a heavy concentration of seasonal houses and if on a conservation property, one that sees little or no foot traffic. This means avoiding Sanford Farm, Tupancy Links, Gardner Farm, Smooth Hummocks, Windswept Cranberry Bogs, ect. All the high-traffic areas. You probably get plenty of interaction with others during your day. Instead, try Smith's Point off Massachusetts Avenue, Pocomo to Wauwinet: the hike I did on Sunday morning — when the water is at mid-tide, you can walk all the way to Wauwinet and on to Coskata if you want — the beach between Wauwinet and Quidnet, Low Beach in ’Sconset, and maybe the beach between the ocean end of Hummock Pond Road and Madaket. As year-round Nantucketers, I'm sure you can find your way out to these precious spots.

Get out there, but...Shhhhh!