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22 Mar 2016

Nantucket Off Season

In her beautiful coffee table book aptly titled “Nantucket The Quiet Season,” famed Nantucket photographer Cary Hazlegrove captures the very soul of the island in her stunning images. In Cary’s own eloquent words, “Winter is when Nantucket truly unfolds. She is down to her bones – barren, windswept, and steadfast – revealing her poetic side.” It is during this “off season” that many of us locals find ourselves the most energized and simultaneously the most relaxed as we get the honor of having this magical paradise to ourselves.
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Nantucket has a reputation for being a playground for the rich and famous. One of our friends declared it “Disneyland for grown-ups!” Repeatedly the island is named on top ten lists of best vacation places, most beautiful beaches and finest dining spots. Nantucket is all those things…but she is more…so much more. For those of us who live here year round, we get the supreme pleasure of knowing her more intimately. To see beyond the crowds, the events and the traffic patterns to the raw beauty that defines this tiny spit of sand.
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With the multitudes gone and the tourist season pressure eased just a bit, the island lives differently. There’s no traffic gridlock at five corners or the rotary, except when someone intentionally slows to roll a window down and holler hello at a neighbor across the way. It can take an hour to get through the Stop and Shop, but not because of long lines. There’s typically a friendly face in every aisle, so it’s fun to stop and chat about kids, winter vacation or the latest diet fad requiring that heaping basket full of organic greens. Even the parking system that is a nightmare in the summer is much more relaxed. We don’t make a habit of parking the wrong way as indicated in the photo, but there is no shortage of spaces when a quick stop is required.
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We’re always so happy to share this beautiful island with guests in the summer season, but it’s hard to convey how special and magical it is during this quiet time. For those off island who grumble that it’s so difficult to get here or isolating to visit or live here – they’re right. But, they don’t quite realize those are some of the traits that actually make Nantucket unique and desirable. It is, after all, an island. For many of us it’s simply home…a home we love throughout the year, but maybe never as much as when the only sounds heard on a given day are the church bells, the ferry horn or the distant roar of the ocean. These off season intricacies aren’t widely publicized. When asked in Hazlegrove’s book what Nantucket is like in the winter, contributor Steve Sheppard with tongue in cheek quipped, “I’m sorry, that’s classified information.”
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The off season is still one of Nantucket’s best kept secrets. If you’re lucky enough to be in the know, be sure to take advantage of the many winter opportunities. Grab a table at Fifty-Six Union and enjoy 3 courses for $25. Stop by Lola 41 for Sushi Sunday¬†and get two rolls for the price of one or stop in and chat with any of your favorite retailers, innkeepers or real estate brokers. You’ll have no trouble finding a place to park!
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Quiet time.
Shellie Dunlap
 
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