21 Aug 2018

Ever Changing Nantucket

In the 2015 hit film, “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” Jeremy Irons character G.H. Hardy advices his subjects to remain open-minded to the ever-changing world around them. “Change, gentlemen,” Hardy muses. “It’s a beautiful thing. Embrace it.” On Nantucket, like everywhere in the universe, change is inevitable. We love preserving history, our island resources and the very fiber of the island that makes it such a magical place to live and visit. Yet, we are wise enough to recognize that with each generation and the development of new technology change is bound to happen. We might as well embrace it.
I stumbled across an article recently, written by Dick Mackay author of “Nantucket! Nantucket! Nantucket! An Insider’s Guide.” I thought it worth quoting a couple of his reflections verbatim. “One hundred and fifty years after whale oil made Nantucket the richest small town in America, the boom is on again,” Dick reports. “Second homes are shooting up on the grassy moors like sperm whales’ spouts on the South Seas and attempts at controlling growth have created a kind of wildcatting: the building of houses without permits.” This was not a piece drafted for last weeks Inky Mirror. It was printed in the New York Times in June of 1982. Things change. Some things don’t.
Mackay goes further. “But what of that old-fashioned Nantucket we used to know,” he considers. “The one with the cobble-stoned Main Street, rose-covered cottages and an Old Mill that was still grinding corn? Oh yes, the Little Gray Lady is still there, all right; it’s just that she’s eating more croissants than corn bread these days.” Even 36 years ago (and likely long before that) locals and visitors were bemoaning the changes happening on the island. Fretful that the very cobblestone streets and climbing roses would some day be just part of the history books.
It’s good…even critical…to be concerned citizens. Important to protect and preserve what our forefathers worked so hard to create and what Mother Nature likely won’t give us a second chance at. And yet, sometimes we forget our most valuable resource is the people who share our love for this faraway island. In the photo above, 3 generations of Nantucket loyalists enjoy the trendy lawn game Cornhole. 36 years ago they were playing croquet on lawns all across the island. The game has changed. The desire to gather kids and grandkids for quality time on the lawn is long-standing.
As we roll with the ever-changing tides…using smart phone apps for everything from restaurant reservations to an Uber ride to town and social media “influencers” to guide our shopping and social calendar decisions…let us fiercely guard those things that have forever made Nantucket uniquely enchanting. Yes, the cobblestone streets and rose covered cottages, but equally important are the fleeting moments with family and friends on the lawn. Grab the beanbags and aim for the cornhole or dust off the croquet mallets. The game may change, but the memories created will endure.
Game Changer
Shellie Dunlap  
Related Posts
  • 11 Feb 2014 Moby-thon at The Nantucket Atheneum “Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse and nothing particular to interest me on shore I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” These are words from the opening paragraph ofHerman Melville’slegendary Moby... Continue Reading
  • 16 May 2017 Nantucket Homecoming . The inimitable Mr. Jon Bon Jovi reminds us why our hearts are full when we return home. He sums it up this way “It doesn’t matter where you are doesn’t matter where you go if it’s a million miles away or just a mile up the road; take it in take it with you... Continue Reading