23 Feb 2016

Nantucket Fireside

The 1800’s famed essayist Thomas De Quincey wrote, “Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o’clock, warm hearthrugs and tea…whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.” That was me (and many others I assume!) on a recent Nantucket morning. A crackling fire in the fireplace and a hot cup of tea “whilst” the wind and rain raged audibly outside. I didn’t have a quill pen and an ink pot like De Quincey, but I had my laptop charged up and the roaring fire helped fuel the creative juices.
What is it about a warm fire that energizes and calms us simultaneously? The experience is multi-sensory. The heat warms our bones, the smoky aroma reminds us of childhood camping trips or Sundays at grandma’s house. The dancing flames capture our full attention and threaten to hold us in a trance. I find no better place to let a stressful day melt away than nestled in front of a roaring fire. There is also no better place to tap into the creative juices needed to write, plan, strategize or organize than a worn easy chair placed “just so” next to the hearth. Of course, the ultimate indulgence as the fire burns on is to close one’s eyes and savor a long winter nap.
Nantucket has a long history of crackling fires. Virtually every historic home has at least one and in most cases multiple fireplaces of varying sizes and styles. Some are so large you can literally walk into them! They were used for cooking with large cast iron kettles and pots as well as heating the homes. Many of the local Inns (which were once homes) still have fireplaces in each room which add to the charm and romance of the guests experience.
As contemporary living has taken over, there are countless new ways to enjoy a nice fire. The firepit has become the latest craze (I confess I’m about to invest in one myself) to take the fireside experience outside and to extend it to a year round event. Restaurants are adding fireplaces and fire tables to enhance their diners enjoyment. Hotels are marketing fireside activities for the whole family complete with ‘smores, hot chocolate and a sing along. Whether it’s a starry summer evening or a blustery winter day, a fire is like an open invitation for people to gather, converse or simply just relax.
With no shortage of fireplaces on Nantucket, you’ll have no problem choosing a spot to pull up a seat and enjoy the glow. Make a reservation at Atlas for a fireside table and some delicious BBQ. Book an overnight or a weekend at the Union Street Inn where you can reserve a guest room with a fireplace and awaken to a full cooked to order breakfast! Or, plan a casual winter dinner party at your home or a friends and entice guests with a simple menu, the beverage of their choice and a warm fire. Who can resist?
Snap, crackle, indulge.
Shellie Dunlap
  Shellie Dunlap - Nantucket
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