22 Aug 2017

Your Nantucket

In his 1969 collection of essays titled “Spirit of Place,” author Lawrence Durrell concludes that “it is a pity indeed to travel and not get this essential sense of landscape values. You do not need a sixth sense for it. It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly.” He goes on to say, “you can extract the essence of a place once you know how. If you just get as still as a needle, you’ll be there.” Whether they intentionally go looking for it or it happens organically, those who live on and visit Nantucket almost always find their “spirit of place” on this little Faraway Island.
There is a fabulous…very large…banner that has hung in Boston’s Logan Airport for the past many months. It’s sponsored by the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce and says simply, “Find Your Nantucket – it’s all here waiting for you.” With a few choice photos of some of the Grey Lady’s best offerings…a sailboat running in the harbor, succulent scallops basted with a golden broth, a south shore sunset, the rolling sand dunes and a church steeple in the distance…who could resist the urge to find this magical place? Every time I walk through the airport the banner stops me cold. It draws me in and calms my spirit. If I’m departing, it reminds me there is a warm homecoming awaiting me upon my return. If I’m coming home, the images and the message evoke gratitude. Regardless of where my travels have taken me, there is no place quite like Nantucket…and I give thanks that she’s “waiting for me.”
For each of us, the journey we take to “find our Nantucket” is unique. Some are lucky enough to have been born here…their family lineage spans multiple generations. But pursuit of their very own Nantucket is no less meaningful than someone who just stepped off the boat last week. Long time Nantucketer’s – the “locals” as we wash-ashores refer to them – are constantly seeking sanctuary from the busy tourist season. They know the secret narrow roads that lead to their very own corner of sand on a beach day or the hidden path in the Moors where they can walk in silence with their dog off leash. For locals, their Nantucket is the acres of unspoiled conservation land, the coastal dunes, the clean harbor water and even the piping plovers. They understand the critical need to fiercely protect the very fiber of the island and they do so passionately.
For others of us who washed ashore in recent decades or recent days, our passion to “find our Nantucket” is no less intentional, it’s just different. Without a history on the island, every day is a new discovery with ongoing reasons to be in awe. We find our “spirit of place” on a dozen different beaches, in a dozen breathtaking sunsets, in the gentle melody of the songbirds before sunrise and in the emotional stories of our Nantucket friends who remind us that part of the beauty of this place is found in the people who share a collective love and reverence for her.
Find your “spirit of place” on Nantucket this season. Take a private yoga class on Lady’s Beach. Enjoy a sunset cocktail from the lawn of the Wauwinet Inn. Or grab a coffee from the Handlebar Café and head to the Sconset walking path at dawn where you can watch the sun rise up to illuminate your Nantucket.
It’s waiting for you.
Shellie Dunlap  
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