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Gray surf at Eel Point

A Gray Day On Nantucket


This week I really know why Nantucket is called the gray lady.  It has been gray, cloudy, and rainy for the last four days.  Before I moved to Nantucket, I though I would be depressed on days like this.  After all, I originally moved to Nantucket for sun, surf, and summer fun. 

Instead of being depressed, however, I am enthralled.  I love the starkness of the ocean and the sky.  There are multiple shades of gray, each distinctive and different.  During the day the sky and sea are argent, ash, battleship, and cadet.  As evening approaches, shades shift to charcoal, slate, silver, pearl, pewter, and platinum.  Eventually, as the sun sets, the sky and ocean become deep space sparkle, manatee, and Clair de Lune.

Inspired by the scene outside, I think about Nantucket as a lusty lady who loves winter and gray skies as much as she loves the sun.

An Island Girl

No unravished bride of quietness,
Nantucket is a lusty girl, a willing bride
of winter, who renews her vows each year.

Married to the ocean, wed to the sky,
the gray lady dances, twirls, seduces,
beguiles, and captivates her winter lovers

On windy days, she wraps herself
in gossamer.   Waves of light-as-air silk
in hoar gray cling to her bodacious body. 

On stormy days, she wears a pewter charmeuse,
a deeply textured, subdued shantung,
rough, nubby, resilient, elastic, and strong.

On the coldest days, this Indian maid
slips into a silvery gray.  A shameless selkie,
she bares her breasts to the softness of snow.

On the grayest days, flocks of birds lift and circle
in the winter sky, fill Nantucket’s heart,
and she is rich with the sound of their wings.

I aspire to be an island girl, one who embraces Nantucket is all her different dresses and dances to the tune of the seasons.  I want to find beauty and mystery and joy in even the most daunting weather.  Of course, maybe I will be singing a different tune in February, but I hope not.

This is Pat Jones's first year living full time on Nantucket. After decades of teaching English at the high school and college level, she is now embarking on a new and challenging odyssey. Both retirement and Island life are new and exciting and occasionally daunting.  In this column she will share what it is like to live on Nantucket year round. As a poet, a writer, and a novice visual artist, her metaphor for the journey is “Throwing Paint.”