Nantucket’s Ladies’ Man

Gorgeous and nude, she stretches luxuriously and perfects her posture before taking a dive to the depths of the smooth body of water sparkling before her.  The space between her ribs above her tummy is flat with her preparatory inhalation.  She is ready.  Emerald green and exquisite, where can she be seen? Read this week’s Yesterday’s Island to find out!

Where Does Nantucket Get Its Fresh Water?

Wherever you are on Nantucket, you know you can quickly reach water.

And that’s one reason we all love Nantucket. We swim in it; we sail through it; we breathe in its salty scent, thick with the promise of life. But we cannot drink the seawater that surrounds us. (That is, unless we covet a slow death by dehydration!) And with 30 miles of that seawater between our tiny stretch of sand and the rest of the world, we don’t have the “next town over” resources upon which other locations can rely. We are on our own to find clean water. The charming landmark water pump in Sconset might lead visitors to believe that the town gets its water from old-world artisan wells. Robert Gardner, General Manager of Nantucket’s Wannacomet Water Company, chuckles and dispels the notion: “That’s a rumor. There’s not an artisan well on this island.” So where does Nantucket’s fresh water come from?

To find out, read the article by Sarah Teach in Yesterday’s Island/Today’s Nantucket:

See You Later, Summer

How are we already just two weeks away from September?! This weekend rings in the last big hurrah of summer on Nantucket. Kicking off with Saturday’s Annual Sandcastle Contest and then giving a grand bow with the Opera House Cup and its famous Harbor Start, the weekend will bring families out to Jetties Beach one final time before saying, “See you next year!” to the summer season.

Sunrise in the harbor

Wild, Whiskered Islanders

Every day, thousands of healthy animals across the United States are put to death due to lack of homes, not to mention those in the wild that die of starvation, disease or the elements. Up until last year, Nantucket was not immune to this lethal devastation; and islander Carol Black knew that something had to be done for the many cats that were awaiting either homes or death. In February 2011, Black rallied the island’s feline-friendly troops and they decided that Nantucket would be a safe place for cats both wild and domestic. To help cover the costs of caring for feral cats, Black formed CATTRAP Nantucket, a subsidiary of CATTRAP Inc., a no-kill organization that is dedicated to the reduction of feral cat populations through Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) programs. When the island’s MSPCA dissolved last December, Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals took over the facility’s shelter, which looks after domestic strays and surrenders; and CATTRAP took on the responsibility for Nantucket’s feral cats.

There are three different situations through which CATTRAP handles the island’s feral cat population. First comes the TNR aspect. Located in various outdoor spots around the island are humane traps that contain “bait” bearing an aroma that kitties simply cannot resist: wet cat food! All year long, CATTRAP volunteers regularly visit these sites to check for trapped animals.

Pixel and The Captain snooze in their new favorite chair.

If a trapped cat has the top quarter-inch of one ear clipped neatly off (through a process known as “ear-tipping”), it indicates that the cat has already been sterilized and vaccinated. Such a cat can be released immediately if it appears healthy. A cat without a cropped ear is transported to a veterinary facility and placed under general anesthesia before being sterilized and ear-tipped. Male cats heal very quickly from the neutering procedure and are released back to the location where they were trapped. Female cats undergo a more invasive surgical process, so they heal under the care of CATTRAP before being released back to their trapping site. Above all, CATTRAP strives to provide humane treatment to the animals. Thus, traps are not rigged during freezing or rainy weather. CATTRAP volunteer Michelle Perkins says that she has seen some trapped cats become so distressed that, in desperate attempts at freedom, they ram their heads into the sides of the trap until their noses bleed. The ideal situation is that a cat will not be stuck in a trap for more than a few hours.

The second aspect through which CATTRAP cares for the island’s feral cats is adoption. “Part of trapping is that we find all of these kittens,” says Black. “We evaluate every cat that we come across. Usually young kittens are friendly and adoptable.” But while feral and domestic cats are the exact same species, feral cats are wild animals that have not been socialized with humans. Thus, most adults that are trapped would not thrive in a home and are not adoptable.

Thirdly, CATTRAP provides sanctuary when it would be inhumane to release a cat that has been trapped. Black says, “There are a variety of reasons why a cat might have special needs or should not be released. Some are super skinny or sickly; those we take in.” The sanctuary cats are cared for in volunteers’ homes until they are healthy again or until the end of their lives.

Feral cats live in colonies of up to 40 cats, and scattered throughout the island are several of these large feline “neighborhoods.” Colonies congregate close by food sources, so CATTRAP has established feeding stations that will draw the animals to the traps that are set up nearby. This makes it much easier to ensure that all cats in a given colony are sterilized. Last year, CATTRAP Nantucket had about 130 cats go through the TNR process; and so far in 2012, that number is past 50. Black says, “Spaying or neutering cats is the most effective way to reduce feral cat populations.”

But many people, especially cat lovers, might wonder why it is so bad to have a large feral cat population on Nantucket. To this question, Black responds, “When cats reproduce, there is a lot of suffering that goes on. A lot of kittens are dying, mother cats are dying giving birth in the wild. Through reducing numbers, we are also reducing the amount of suffering.”

There are a handful of perspectives behind the desire to trim the island’s feral cat population. Many bird enthusiasts and ornithologists are concerned about the number of bird deaths that occur at the feline predators’ agile paws. But lovers of any species must agree on one thing: everyone wishes to ease animal suffering. Black emphasizes that anyone can be of help to this cause by contacting CATTRAP Nantucket about outdoor sightings of unfamiliar cats without collars or ear clips. Black implores the community: “The biggest thing is to call us if you see [outdoor] kittens. Kittens usually
mean there’s a colony nearby.”

Not only is CATTRAP a nonprofit organization, it is run entirely by volunteers. It relies solely on private donations and absorbs all of the costs for the cats’ care. (In the vast majority of places off-island, people must pay outof- pocket if they want a feral cat to be sterilized.) CATTRAP Nantucket greatly needs and appreciates gifts in any amount. On average, every female feral cat that goes through CATTRAP’s program costs $135, and every male costs $75. Kittens cost upwards of $400 each. However, you can make a difference with as little as $15, which is enough to feed a large feral colony for an entire week! To learn more about how you can help humanely reduce Nantucket’s feral cat population, call Black at 508-257-4333 or visit the CATTRAP Nantucket Facebook page. You also might consider donating some of the following items that are on CATTRAP’s wish list: Capstar and Advantage tick/flea prevention treatments, dry and canned cat and kitten food, cat toys, cat scratchers and climbing trees, gift cards to Geronimo’s or other island stores that sell cat supplies.

Pops Concert Tickets Going Fast

Nantucket Cottage Hospital officials answered the many requests for an encore performance at Boston Pops on Nantucket by pop-rock vocalist Michael Cavanaugh, who last performed with the Pops on Nantucket in ’09. This year, the Grammy- and Tony Award-nominated performer brings the power-house rock-and-roll songs of Elton John and more to the Pops stage on Nantucket. For his last appearance, Cavanaugh entertained the crowd with songs of Billy Joel from the Broadway musical Moving On, in which Cavanaugh starred on Broadway in over 1,200 performances as a Billy Joel-like Piano Man. Award-winning journalist and newscaster Katie Couric, who launches her own syndicated daytime talk show, Katie, this fall, will be host for the evening.

Nearly 8,000 concert goers are expected to attend the Saturday, August 11 evening performance on Jetties Beach. The concert remains Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s largest single fundraising event, with net proceeds helping the hospital to provide year-round, around-the-lock health care, wellness services and emergency medical care.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital Foundation, the concert’s producers, said sales are brisk, especially for sponsorship-level tables and seats, but plenty of general admission tickets were still available at press-time. Gates to the beach open the day of the concert at 4:30 p.m., with the concert scheduled for 7 to 9 pm. Concert-goers often begin to line up as early as 10 am. A grand finale performance of The 1812 Overture ends with a spectacular fireworks show over Nantucket Harbor.

Now in its 127th anniversary season, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra is known affectionately as “America’s Orchestra” and is the most recorded and arguably the most beloved orchestra in the United States. This will be the 16th straight summer that the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Keith Lockhart, returns to Nantucket. All proceeds from the concert benefit Nantucket Cottage Hospital and help it to deliver services as Nantucket’s only around-the-clock, year-round healthcare provider.

General admission tickets are on sale at several Nantucket locations including Aunt Leah’s Fudge on Straight Wharf (cash & check only), Murray’s Toggery Shop on upper Main Street, Nantucket Visitors Center on Federal Street, and at Nantucket Cottage Hospital Foundation Office behind the hospital.

New this year, the hospital has set up a Pops “Pop-Up Shop” to sell tickets and souvenir merchandise. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children aged 5 to 12. Contact the foundation office at 508-825-8250 for more details about ticket sales and locations, or visit the hospital website at

Nantucket Island Resorts / Jill and Stephen Karp return this year as presenting sponsors of the Boston Pops on Nantucket. Major sponsors this year include Coastal Living magazine and Infiniti. A special “Infiniti Kids’ Zone,” staffed by Maria Mitchell Aquarium of Nantucket, will allow up-close encounters for young concert-goers with local Nantucket sea creatures. Nantucket Cottage Hospital is the only year-round, around-the-clock healthcare facility for the island located 30 miles at sea off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Founded in 1911, the hospital today serves a year-round population of about 11,000 and a summer seasonal population approaching 50,000 on peak weekends. The NCH medical staff consists of board certified physicians in family practice, internal medicine, radiology, general surgery and orthopedic surgery. The hospital operates a 24-7 Emergency Department and 19 in-patient beds. It offers an array of diagnostic and treatment services including surgery, dialysis, chemotherapy, cardiac therapy, orthopedics, endoscopy, occupational and rehabilitative therapies, a Swing Bed recovery program, telemedicine and more than two dozen specialties available on both an in-patient and out-patient basis. Dr. Margot Hartmann, MD, PhD serves as President and CEO of the Hospital. Nantucket Cottage Hospital is an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare. For more information, visit Nantucket Cottage Hospital Communications Officer: William Ferrall, 508-825-8246 or

Fierce, Sensuous Gypsy Music Draws a Crowd

The August evening glow sets in over the brewery’s picnic tables as the band is playing on the porch. A little girl in a pink dress with blonde curls squeals delightfully as she is joined on the dance floor by a tiny boy who shares all her features, save for a missing front row of teeth. Two 30-something women clink recyclable cups together, spilling their brews, but they don’t have a care in the world. The wavy-haired beauty whose voice rips through the twilight hits a tambourine to the off beats and swings her hips as the guitar picks an elaborate melody. This is dancing music at its most inviting, courtesy of the island’s gypsy-style band, Coq Au Vin.

“Gypsy style” encompasses the traditional music of Eastern Europe that is primarily instrumental and finds its strength in string instruments. Many of us may think of it as the sort of Greek wedding music that begs for an exclamation: “Opa!” It is more about the sound than who wrote the song; a good musician can spin any song into gypsy style. And Coq Au Vin, with influences that range from Spanish gypsy flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla to contemporary Euro-pop group Ace of Base, dances to the beat of its own drum. Some original numbers are scattered throughout their repertoire, complemented by songs that anyone recognizes and loves.

“It’s really Caleb’s band,” allows guitarist Bob Walder, referring to accordionist Caleb Cressman, who majored in ethnomusicology at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. Cressman was the common string that brought the band together throughout 2011. “He’s the prince of the band,” jokes Walder; Cressman simply waves this comment off and reveals his vision: “I wanted to have a really versatile band that could play a variety of music. I also love that we don’t have to plug in [any electrical equipment]. We prefer acoustic.”

Pete Arsenault, owner of local technology support firm Oasis Computer Consulting and former Boston rock musician, picks at a guitar alongside Walder. Arsenault says, “Along with playing modern pop in the gypsy style, we do a lot of traditional early 20th century music. We think it’s really important to keep those traditions going.”

The baby of the band, string bassist Zeb Bennett, just graduated from Nantucket High School. He may not be able to drink, but he can keep up with musicians twice his age. Bennett sheds light on the band’s name: “Coq au vin is a French dish that translates as ‘rooster with wine.’ We were trying to come up with a band name, and we were all at Caleb’s house eating coq au vin. Suddenly it became obvious.” The band confesses that listeners have had some trouble knowing how to pronounce Coq Au Vin. The tambourine-hitting singer, Ingrid Feeney, draws on her linguistics studies at City University of New York (CUNY) at Brooklyn College to break down the band’s name: “It’s pronounced much like the English “Cocoa Van” but with the ‘Coc’ separated from the ‘oa’ and a more nasalized ‘a’ sound followed by a soft nasalized consonant ‘n’.” Feeney’s strong, rich, fierce vocals span six languages and meld melodiously with the gypsy style. Violinist Joanna Hay hails from Kentucky, leading one to believe that the instrument on her arm may in fact be a fiddle. Andy Harris, a local farmer, blasts on the trumpet alongside drummer Jake Wardell. Both are powerful instruments, but neither drowns any other element of the ensemble.

All members of the band seem to take great pleasure in one another’s company; and they acknowledge that they are in this gig for the love of music and not of money. They enjoy the dynamics of fancy weddings and cocktail parties, but they also dig the rowdy crowds of Nantucket’s late-night restaurant and bar scene. “We have two people that turn up at almost all of our shows and dance. They’re our biggest fans; we love them!” says Feeney, adding that Nantucket’s local Russian-Americans usually come up and sing with her when their country’s traditional music is played. “Some have tears in their eyes,” she says, “And they’ve been very happy to help me with my pronunciation, too.” Listeners must hear but one song in order to recognize that Coq Au Vin’s mesmerizing influence crosses boundaries of culture, gender, generation and lifestyle, inviting anyone and everyone to take joy in the music they create.

Coq Au Vin has plans to record their music this winter, so you can look forward to dancing to Nantucket-made gypsy music every day! Coq Au Vin is available as a three-piece band consisting of accordion, guitar and tambourine/ vocals, all the way up to the full eight-piece band that adds a second guitar, along with a fiddle, a trumpet, drums, and a string bass. They are available for private bookings by contacting Arsenault at 508-228-5366 or emailing Revel in the dancing music of Coq Au Vin every Thursday at The Met on Main and every Friday night at Pazzo.