With the setting sun, a glorious September week on Nantucket is drawing to a close. As I hear the slow-pulsing beat of waves on the shore, my peripheral vision tells me that stray rays of the sun are breaking through a cloudy sky low on a horizon of ocean and moors. Soon, gopher-looking beach houses peeking over the hills will become mere silhouettes. But unlike past evenings, this evening they’ll miss being washed by the most unnaturally intense riot of crimson and yellow imaginable. Tonight’s view will remain a tone poem of soft blue-grays. Six in the morning, let me tell you, was another story: the eastern sky was ablaze, ushering the sun’s rising. But red sky at morning…
All for the best. It seems a natural way to wind down a wonderful week of painting and partying on this amazing island. With my friends, Nancy and Sue, I had my final 60th birthday dinner at Todd English’s Figs Restaurant. A Patois heaven it was, from walking through the front door to savoring the last bite. Make that sip. Housed in a venerable, 300 year old New England clapboard edifice, graced with low slung beamed ceilings, fireplaces and wide plank floors, my eyes were feasting before my mouth had a chance to savor a morsel. One more reason to return to this far-distant island.
With barely two towns to its name(add a settlement or two), the towns of Nantucket’s shoulder-to-shoulder buildings and cobblestone streets framed by brick sidewalks fill me with the same mind-spinning excitement I feel when visiting ancient french villages. Especially the doll-sized fishermen’s cottages of Siasconset. Oh-la-la! How can houses so tiny one must duck to enter pulse such charm? I woke every morning ready to charge there to paint with the verve of a racehorse waiting to be cut loose from its stanchion. Stay tuned for the results. And painting en plein air is pretty much public license to voyeur. No one questions why you’re peeking.
All told, France has her Finestre, but we have our Nantucket. Both are distant and isolated regions oozing with the heritage of the sea. And as Nancy so aptly said, after taking car, plane, bus and ferry to reach this enchanted island, no one gets here by accident. Maybe that’s why the days here seem so pregnant with purpose. And so rich with leisure.