09 Aug 2011

Nantucket Garden Party…

Nantucket Garden Party

My husband Dan and I were humming Ricky Nelson’s 1970’s Billboard hit as we left our first Nantucket garden party of the summer last weekend. And what a party it was! The Nantucket Artists Association held its annual Gala on the lawn of a stunning Hulbert Avenue estate, generously donated for the evening by a long-time supporter of the organization. Mother Nature was in full cooperation with blue skies, tolerable late July temps and a gentle breeze. Even the mosquitos and green backs were well behaved and took the night off.

As we entered the expansive back lawn through the proverbial garden gate, the beauty of the transformed garden almost took our breath away. I found it fitting, since the event was to benefit the Artists Association, that the garden truly looked like a work of art. Dozens of tables were adorned with floral tablecloths, fragrant centerpieces and elegant place settings. There was a large tent erected to tastefully display all of the donated art pieces, as well as allow for an expansive array of pre-dinner hor’dourves stations and the always popular raw bar. Every thoughtful detail created a warm welcoming atmosphere making guests feel right at home.

One of my favorite things about summer is the opportunity to do life outdoors. All over the USA folks find unique ways to host social gatherings in their outside spaces. I’m an Iowa girl, so while not originally familiar with the garden party concept, I am no stranger to a summer cookout. It was almost a nightly summer event. After work, friends or neighbors would stop over with some fresh garden tomatoes or homemade potato salad. We’d pop the top on a can of Budweiser, put it in the rump of a farm raised chicken and stick it on the BBQ grill. We’d sit around in lawn chairs sharing stories about our day and some evenings half the neighborhood would be gathered on one lawn or another before the night was out.

Eventually we moved to Arizona where the backyard BBQ was affectionately (and accurately) referred to as the pool party. No need to include a dress code on the invites…actually no need for invites at all. Same casual “drop by” attitude as our Iowa neighborhood. Friends would stop over after work in their swimwear and flip flops (Arizona attire 11 months of the year), bearing armloads of chips and salsa, brimming pitchers of lemonade or margaritas and a platter of burgers or hot dogs. Our kids would swim until their skin turned to raisins and their hair turned green from the chlorine. The adults would moan about the heat and then toast the good fortune to have neighbors who make it tolerable.

Ricky Nelson had it right when he said he went to the garden party to reminisce with his old friends. That’s truly the best part of any outdoor social affair. Last weeks AAN Gala was no exception. The garden party event was a big success, showcasing brilliant work from dozens of local artists. A lot of money was raised to fund the many programs they offer and young artists they support. Like Ricky, we were delighted to run into many island friends we hadn’t seen all summer. It was fun watching all the artists interact with each other and meet some of their fans and collectors.

If you haven’t made it to a garden party yet this summer, check the island calendar to see if there is one coming up. Or, how about throwing together an impromptu one of your own? Partner with an organization to host the party to benefit a good cause or simply throw together a casual neighborhood cookout. Take advantage of the remaining dog days of summer to reminisce with old friends.

It’s all right now…

Shellie Dunlap


Related Posts
  • 28 Jul 2011 Fine Dining on Nantucket Remember the Stouffer’s commercial from the 80’s where the husband sits in awe at the head of his beautifully adorned dining room table “So this is the dining room” he quips as his wife serves the Stouffer’s meal on the fine china. We all chuckled because we could relate. It seemed our days gathered around... Continue Reading
  • 07 Jun 2011 Down on Main Street Nantucket The beloved musician Bob Seger has a memory of his Main Street – “standing on the corner at midnight trying to get my courage up.” We all have a memory of Main Street somewhere don’t we Maybe it’s our hometown where grandma lives or just some quaint little community we passed through on our way... Continue Reading