“Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off shore, more lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse. Look at it—a mere hillock, and elbow of sand; all beach, without a background.” – from Moby Dick.
We ended up in Nantucket for a couple of days holiday at the end of last month (mainly because of another book Alison first read some thirty years ago, called Cheaper By The Dozen, but that’s another story). It is a tiny, isolated island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with one side left wide open to the Atlantic, and seemingly endless duned beaches. The population of the isle swells by six times in the summer with wealthy tourists, but on our off-peak autumn visit it seemed only to be the locals and us, and was probably all the better for it. It is famous amongst other things, for a long whaling history, and being the setting for the famous novel Moby Dick, despite its author only visiting after the book’s publication.
We fell in love with the island, which was wild and quiet, and felt wonderfully isolated. Here’s what we were thinking about on the boat back to Cape Cod:
THE COLOUR PALETTE: Nantucket is known for its reserved pastel colour palette. The neats rows of cedar-shingled houses are all delicate, soothing seaside hues. In fact, the Historic District Commission has a list of approved colours, to ensure the settlement never loses its colour-washed identity. Bleached whites, muted cranberry reds, light sky blues and sea grass greens adorn every street and interior. Farrow and Ball eat your heart out.
THE LIGHTHOUSES: Something about lighthouses in general is impossibly romantic – they are literally life-saving buildings radiating light, which have been there for hundreds of years. Nantucket’s safety beacons seemed particularly special though – perhaps something to do with the long whaling background. We were definitely reminded that we have some pretty amazing lighthouses here on Anglesey too (several people tweeted us exclaiming surprise that the images we were sharing weren’t actually of Llanddwyn) Great Point lighthouse had to be our favourite.
THE SIGNAGE: Signs to everywhere on the island are beautifully, intricately carved, and painted in midnight blues, classic golds and soft greens. Even the mailboxes were beautiful. We left wanting postcards of them all.
THE CELEBRATION OF FALL: Not specific to Nantucket but perhaps applicable to most of the USA, is the excitement around the turn of the seasons. It seemed like there was not a single step without a cascade of pumpkins in a gluttony of colours.
Granted we may not have the same number of trees that turn the vivid yellows and scarlets of Autumn, but we could still take a leaf out of the US’s book when it comes to celebration of the season.
Images: J Lea-Wilson