10 Sep 2013

Footprints in Nantucket Sand

I have a favorite picture frame displayed prominently on my desk with an engraved quote that reads, “Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” The special moment preserved in this frame is one of all of my children gathered together on Cisco Beach on a warm summer evening just as the sun is setting. With each of them now living in a different corner of the country, these occasions when we can all be together on Nantucket are priceless and memory worthy.

As another spectacular Nantucket summer winds to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect. The rumination is bittersweet as we consider the “wow moments,” embrace every special person and occasion that was part of this season’s Nantucket story and lament those opportunities missed because the calendar was too satiated or father time simply would not shift his beach buggy out of high gear.

With a peek into my own rearview mirror on this bright September morning, I find myself pondering not only where my flip-flops had the pleasure of treading this summer, but wondering if they left any impression. Held dear are the ‘Sconset sunrises, sunsets on Cisco Beach, fishing in Madequecham and the stolen beach day in Quidnet with friends. Many are the¬†Friday¬†night memories at Ventuno and the mid-week lite bites at the Tree Bar. Oh those dinner parties with old friends and new, sand castle building with one granddaughter and the privilege of assisting another in putting her tiny toes in the Jetties Beach sand for the first time. Regret that there weren’t enough long bike rides, books read beach-side or leisurely strolls with friends and family.

Others footprints and their personal journeys left a lasting impression on this Nantucket summer. Several in our tight knit community battled difficult illnesses with courage and grace, but mustered the energy to encourage others along the way. Parents of a special needs child inspired onlookers as they celebrated a first tandem bike ride with whoops and hollers as they whizzed down the Cisco Bike Path. Then there was the rental home owner who quietly apologized that she was unable to offer her home for rent in August because it was being gifted to a friend facing an aggressive end-stage illness. This one stopped me cold and had me lingering in front of that house more than once in recent weeks…pausing to sit quietly and consider the bigger picture of Nantucket, the futility of the worrisome “small things” and the big ways the island and its people make us all better.

Where did your family leave footprints in Nantucket sand this summer? A waterside sunset at Galley Beach, a fish caught off Brant Point or perhaps a Rosa Rugosa lined path leading straight to the doorstep of your first Nantucket home? Celebrate these memories and more as you begin designing your Nantucket footsteps for next year.

Make an impression.

Shellie Dunlap

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