15 Jul 2014

Coming Up Roses in Nantucket Gardens

In her upbeat and optimistic rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from the award winning musical Gypsy, Ethel Merman made us believe in the power of positive thinking. She convinced us that maybe…just maybe…everything really is coming up roses and daffodils…sunshine and lollipops…for you and for me. On Nantucket, all you have to do is take a stroll through Sconset village in June or early July to catch the “rose colored glasses” bug. One beautiful rose covered cottage after the next causes passersby to pause and be wowed by the beauty and aroma. These storybook homes exude sunshine and lollipops for all to see…surely their owners and the lucky guests who visit have rose-covered lives as well.

Who are we kidding? Life isn’t always sunshine and roses. Those same rose covered dwellings were built by fishermen and sea captains. For generations they’ve housed families who certainly had the happiest of times, but who also faced their share of trials and tragedies. The cottages may be rose covered, but their lives are sometimes a maze of thorns. Island life wasn’t easy for our ancestors and some days when illness, injury, loss and the good old fashioned busyness of life weigh us down, it isn’t easy for our current generation either. Nantucket may be periodically dubbed a “playground for the rich and famous,” but the reality is it’s also a sanctuary for ordinary people longing for a few days, a few months or even a lifetime of peace, healing…and roses.

The stories that exist within the walls of the flower covered dwellings are as varied as the varietals and colors of roses themselves. In Madaket, a family arrives to spend a week healing and celebrating each other after spending a painful winter laying to rest three of their loved ones. A compound in the Cliff is a gathering place for family and friends to honor their young son just back from the battlefield in Iraq. In town, one of the tiny adorned cottages houses a starry eyed young couple putting the finishing touches on their October wedding plans. The stories are all different, but the love and appreciation for Nantucket is the same.

Nantucket’s rose-filled trellises and picket fences remind us that it’s all about perspective. Alphonse Karr once said, “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that the thorns have roses.” I’m constantly inspired by stories of how time on Nantucket reminds people to focus on the roses of life and give little thought to the thorns. Be sure to take advantage of the many opportunities to enjoy Nantucket’s wildflowers and manicured beds. Join the Nantucket Garden Club for their August home and garden tour, take a walk down a sand road lined with rosa rugosa and wild daises or simply pause alongside your neighbor’s fence and…

Smell the roses.

Shellie Dunlap


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