09 Aug 2016

Nantucket Summer House

Dubbed one of the most memorable songs of the 20th century, “Summertime” could easily be declared Nantucket’s own personal ballad. Because, after all, it truly is “summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” Thousands of great musicians have performed versions of the popular lullaby from the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess, but my personal favorite… and the one playing in my head during August on the island… is courtesy of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Ella had it right that the “fish are jumpin” and we may not have cotton on Nantucket, but she would have to agree the surf is high.
Although Nantucket is beautiful and charm-filled all year long, there is no time quite like the lazy days of summer to fully embrace all she has to offer. With so many second homes on the island, the term “summer house” is a part of our vernacular. Families gather in their multi-generation homes or annual vacation rental properties and spend time enjoying long standing traditions. Croquet or badminton on the lawn where the competition is fierce and spills over from summer to summer. Clamming off Coatue with mom’s latest recipe to showcase the tasty little morsels. For some families, it’s as simple as a large pitcher of ice cold lemonade and a porch swing…and nothing but hours to spend sitting with grandpa watching birds and bunnies on the lawn.
At our house, we have a “pit spitting” competition that’s in its 23rd year. A bag of fresh Bing cherries and a couple of lawn chairs are all that’s needed to entice family members to see who has this summer’s wettest whistle. The annual clam bake complete with clam chowda and fresh lobsta is non-negotiable. And our family and friends would stage a protest if piping hot Downey Flake donuts weren’t awaiting them on the kitchen counter each morning. A lot of great world problems have been solved on a grassy lawn over hot coffee and those sugar coated bad boys.
Perhaps the most famous summer house on the island is the one by the same name in ‘Sconset – The Summer House. With its old ‘Sconset charm and sophisticated yet casual décor, guests are reminded that generations of Nantucket residents and visitors have spent many a summer evening gracing that front porch, listening to the piano while dining on striped bass. Those lucky enough to spend a few nights or weeks in one of the historic cottages tell stories of once honeymooning there or meeting their best friend from the cottage next door years before. While dining there with friends last week, we shared our own stories of special times in this magical setting. It hit us that some of those stories involved loved ones who are no longer with us. The people we love are gone, but the “summer house” where we made the special memories remains…and it matters.
With a few prime weeks still left in this spectacular Nantucket summer, how will your family and friends spend time making memories? A backyard bbq complete with grilled clams and lobsters? A rousing badminton match where the loser makes the morning donut run? Or maybe just a refill on the ice cold pitcher of lemonade and a seat next to grandpa on the porch swing….in your very own Nantucket summer house.
Easy livin’


Shellie Dunlap 
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