The Free Dictionary defines empty nest syndrome as “the depressed state some parents feel after their children leave home.” They qualify their definition by noting it’s not a “clinical condition.” But let’s be honest, if you’ve ever moved your youngest child into their own dorm room or apartment, you know the empty nest syndrome is real. You return home to the deafening silence of your very vacant house. Instinctively, you reach for the calendar to see who is supposed to be where while simultaneously keeping one ear to the back door for the anticipated overzealous intrusion on whatever project you’ve just sat down to complete. Then, like an ice cold dip in the Nantucket Sound in winter, it hits you…those days of mind-numbing chaos and exhausting activity are done. You have just entered a new season of life. Your nest is empty and your calendar is clear. Now what?
The fall season on Nantucket creates a very similar sensation that’s affectionately referred to as “empty island syndrome.” Just like when our children leave home, it takes some time to adjust to the dramatic change that occurs. There is always the initial low that ensues as all the summer socializing ceases, friends and family are bid farewell and the work load lightens. For those who work in the service industry, an absolute paradigm shift occurs as we slowly back our foot off the accelerator and shift into a lower gear. Much like the “empty nest,” the “empty island” – while initially a bit depressing – affords us a limitless carte du jour of possibilities and opportunities.
The most oft-asked question from friends and island visitors is, “what’s it like on Nantucket in the off-season…and what do you DO all winter?” We feign the appropriate disappointment that the hustle bustle has ceased, but the twinkle in the eye of most every local in December is a dead give-away. We meet island friends who we haven’t seen for months at Lola 41 with no thought of a reservation. We choose whatever table we want and settle in for an unhurried four hour dinner. The next night we stop by the Nantucket Atheneum to preview a film. By the weekend we’re ready to gather friends for a formal dinner party or a casual wine and cheese tasting in front of the fireplace. We hit the pause button on doing what our island life demands of us…and take some time to let the island and its people renew us.
You don’t have to live here year round to get your own glimpse of the empty island syndrome. Plan a trip to visit right now in the shoulder season or even into the dead of winter. You’ll have no shortage of things to do…from trivia night at Kitty Murtagh’s, to live music at The Muse. You can indulge in panko eggs benedict at Island Kitchen for breakfast or take a solo walk through the moors as the sun sets. Don’t wait too long. The “empty island” is just like the empty nest…it doesn’t stay quiet forever.
Come fly away.
Broker & Rental Specialist
Lee Real Estate
- 23 Apr 2013 Hey Nantucket, What’s Up Dock? The empty docks at the Great Harbor Yacht Club last week were a picture perfect representation of the island’s eager anticipation of spring. While we all enjoy the rest and reprieve that comes with a few months of an “empty nest” Nantucket residents eagerly look forward to that moment when the island awakens from its... Continue Reading
- 12 Mar 2013 Missing Nantucket Off Island After a busy hustle bustle tourist season on Nantucket and a winter wrought with one storm after the next many of the local residents – particularly those in service related industries – look forward to a few coveted days of rest and relaxation. I had the opportunity to “get away from it all” for a... Continue Reading