Daffy for Dogs on Nantucket

a guest blog post by Ema Hudson •


It’s almost that time again on Nantucket – our annual Daffodil Weekend!  Spring is all around us and those cheerful yellow daffodils give us reason for hope. Our off island friends come back to celebrate the kick off of the season with us, with picnics and parties all around.

Nantucket Daffodil Festival Dog Parade

Mason at the Nantucket Daffodil Festival Dog Parade

Registration will be at the corner of Federal and Main Streets from 10 am – 12 pm, with the parade beginning at approximately 12:30 pm in front of Ralph Lauren.  This year we are proud to partner with Ralph Lauren Nantucket to bring you the best parade yet. If you venture into their shop, you’ll see framed photos of our adoptable pets on display!  There will be a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize awarded to the best dressed dogs.  The winners will also be listed by the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce in all official print material.  There is a suggested donation of $5 to register, all proceeds benefiting Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals.


Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals is a non-profit, mostly volunteer run animal shelter founded in 2011.  We take in and care for Nantucket’s stray and surrendered pets and willnever turn away an animal in need. All incoming animals receive sterilization, vaccines and microchip before going on to new homes. To date we have placed over 100 animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds.


NSHA is also the town’s contracted stray dog shelter. All lost dogs brought in by Nantucket’s Animal Control Officer or citizens are cared for and safe until their owners can be located. Beyond animal care and re-homing, we offer behavior counseling, animal care training, and financial assistance information to island pet owners. If you are interested in volunteering or supporting our shelter, please check out our website at www.nantucketsafeharborforanimals.org  or email us at nantucketsha@gmail.com

Music Legends, New Performers Lead Nantucket Music Festival

With summer skies and salt spray on ocean breezes serving as a backdrop, the Nantucket Music Festival is set for Saturday, August 2, and Sunday, August 3, featuring a still evolving lineup of legendary bands and leading, new artists.


Boston bred, four-piece rock outfit Guster and singer/keyboardist Bruce Hornsby highlight the weekend slate along with notable acts such as Steel Pulse, Donavon Frankenreiter, Chadwick Stokes, Lukas Nelson & P.O.T.R., Ben Taylor, Freddy Clarke, Entrain, and Ayla Brown. Additional bands and performers are expected to join the lineup in the coming weeks.


“Too many years have passed since fans of rock music, blues and folk could enjoy an open air concert on Nantucket,” said NMF co-executive director Cynthia Dareshori, a longtime seasonal resident of the island who founded the event with her friend and fellow islander Cheryl Emery. Dareshori and Emery were inspired to start the NMF after attending several other similar events, including the world famous New Orleans Jazz Festival.


“Cheryl and I saw so many happy people at those festivals,” said Dareshori. “We knew in our hearts that the time was right to bring that kind of happiness to music lovers on our island.”


Daytime, open-air performances will take place both days from 10:00am to 4:00pm. In the evenings, sponsor dinners will occur under a tent with separate tickets and net proceeds to benefit the Celebrate Music Foundation to support local musical performance and education initiatives. Further information regarding sponsor dinner performances will be announced soon.


The festival will take place at Tom Nevers Field, a former naval base on Nantucket’s eastern side which has hosted several events over the years, including the Nantucket County Fair, and features plenty of space to accommodate up to nearly 4,000 ticket holders.


Tickets for the inaugural festival are on sale now at NantucketMusicFestival.com and via Ticketfly.com. Please visit the festival website for further information regarding patron passes, VIP packages, sponsorship opportunities, parking and shuttle bus service and the festival artist lineup. For more information on travel to and from Nantucket, visit http://www.Nantucket.net

Nantucket Winter

by Robert P. Barsanti


This winter remains in the shadows and in the base of the bushes.  It squats, cold and frozen, in the darkness, until the rain and the sun finally drive the dirty ice underground.  The crocuses remain hidden under the frozen turf, as do the daffodils.  Sometime in the third inning of the Red Sox season opener, they will push themselves through the newly mudded earth and bloom.  We will find them, take a picture, then look east for the next storm.


For most of my time on island, winter never quite crossed the canal.  It came rolling up the coast, collided with a cold front of Worcester, and cancelled school in every town where you couldn’t hear a rolling surf.  But, the months out here would pass in sweaters and drizzle, with the occasional windstorm blowing melting flakes of snow over from Hyannis.  The crocuses would sprout by Valentine’s Day and the first daffodils burst yellow before Spring Training started.


This year, the season came with ice storms, blizzards, and snowy owls.  Heroic snow drifts formed over Cliff and Polpis Road, then slowly melted into the turf.  One polar vortex after another locked the harbor in ice and protected the scallops from rakes and drags.  In between storms and freezes, we left the sofa and went in search of Snowy Owls hunting in the dunes and grasslands.  The silent hunters became our quarry, just out of range of gigantic lenses.  We caught them occasionally when the perched on a fence post or dead tree.  Mostly, however, they flitted just barely out of our range, like the eye of God.  They danced, darted, and hid.


Winters on Nantucket, even in the coldest and most violent of years, do not have a great deal of snow, ice, or owls.  When the snow falls, it comes as a catastrophic novelty.  The winds sculpt great towers and walls, the ice reshapes the horizon, and we take pictures to show the familiar scenes marred by a storm.  Winter is unusual and odd in those flooded and wind-blown moments.


An island winter, however, isn’t marked so much by storms as it is by sand.  All summer, we fool ourselves into thinking that the island is a golf course encircled by beaches and bike paths, but the winter blows those happy truths into the sea in a blizzard of sand.  Downtown, the streets are pulled aside to reveal the slippery foundation of the island.  At Dionis, In Sconset, and along the western shore, the rich amass sand castles at the base of their homes.  They truck the sand out, parcel it out on a conveyor belt, then drop it onto the beach.  Then, one storm, or another, or perhaps just a full moon, will sweep thousands of dollars of protection away and return it to a sand bar.


We stand, build, live, and die on sand.  We pretend to live on beautiful rolls of turf.  The landscapers lay it out, roll it down, and then water it for a few days until it seems to take.  But underneath an imported roll of bluegrass and two inches of dirt sits a thousand feet of shifting sand.  The storms come and heave away tons of these stuff, while the turf pauses in mid-air at the top of the bluff.  The tides settle it into Dionis or Jetties, or swirl it back out to the sand bars and rips that circle the island.  Illusions and make-believe fantasies dry up and blow away in the winter; the brown truth of our lives hold us up.  We all know the future.  We all know his how the story ends.  The sand will wear away everywhere and our small hillock will sink under the dark water.  We are all bound for the ocean, one way or another.


In the middle of this winter, a former student died alone and in the cold.  At his memorial, we stood together and wished for another ending; we thought of sofas, and blankets, and anything we could have done or said to have kept him from washing away.  We survivors stood in the parking lot, wrapped in winter clothes, topped with hats, and leaning back into the wind.  The ocean sent breaker upon breaker onto the beach, the clouds passed over us, and a dozen seagulls huddled against the bluff.


We took a lesson from those wiser birds and circled up between two dunes.  We sang “Amazing Grace,” said a few prayers, and then, as the wind picked up and the sand flew like hail, we sang “The Rose” into the apathetic air.  For a brief moment, we considered placing the ashes into the ocean, but realized that they, like the sand, would soon fly into the wind and across the island.  His final rest in the dark water could wait for another day and another beach.  Sand has no rush.


But we were there.  We had raised him, taught him, listened to him, befriended him, laughed, cried, and now mourned what was inside a small urn.  In the howling infinite of the mid-afternoon, we did the only things left to us; we circled, we stood, and we sang.  We remembered a young man who was gone too soon and we stood against the wind in his memory.  We huddle together, we stare into each other’s faces, and we sing words that will be whipped and shredded in seconds.


That’s the other awful truth of the winter.  Other seasons indulge the illusion that this door is for members only and that only yachtsmen and their guests are allowed beyond this point.  Winter scrapes those fantasies bare. We have only each other.  For better or worse, on one side of the law or the other, we remain huddled in the lee of the wind, beset by waves and wind, and clinging to another’s jacket.

When the Worst of Times Turns into the Best of Times

There are times that to be reminded of the best of Nantucket we first must experience some of the worst of living on an island.


This weekend we got stuck in Boston while returning from a trip off-island.  Fog had enveloped Nantucket, stopping all air traffic.  Determined to get home after a week in America, we conferred with two other island residents equally resolved to not let the weather prevent a return home.  Knowing there are more travel options available in Hyannis, we decided to rent a car and drive there together.  We made reservations for four on a 9:50 am Cape Air flight from Hyannis to Nantucket, quickly gathered our belongings, and dashed to the rental car counter in Logan.


We were on the road within 20 minutes and hoped that the driving rain would clear the fog.  We chatted during the drive about what brought each of us to Nantucket, what we do there, how much we miss the island when we’re Off.  By the time we got to Hyannis the stress of the situation had been relieved by laughter and camaraderie.


We arrived at Barnstable Municipal Airport with two minutes to spare.  As we were checking in, Nantucket Airport, which had reopened, closed again due to weather.  We rebooked on an 11:30 am flight and settled in to wait.  The airport cafe was closed, so we shared some cheddar chips and soda for breakfast.


The rain stopped but the fog got thicker.  The flight to Nantucket that left just before the one we were to take was forced to return to Hyannis. Barnstable airport closed.  It was time to head to the ferry.


We shared a cab to the Hy-Line docks, bought tickets on the 12:00 high-speed, and settled into the third waiting room that morning. As noon approached, more island residents filed into the room bound for home.  Our party of four split to greet other friends and share tales of foiled travel plans.  We regrouped to board and sat together.  Half-way across, we toasted our success with a round of Bloody Marys, settled in for the rest of the ride home.


In the span of just a few hours, a morning of frustration had been transformed into a day of friendship and fun.