ACKupy Nantucket

by Susan Yerkes Cary

When I was asked by the Yesterday’s Island owner if I would like to contribute a weekly column this year, I was flattered and honored. I have known the Daub’s for decades, our kids grew up together, and their love of this island and it’s people is immense. BUT… head spun around a couple times. Are they nuts? A column? Me? On what? What could I possibly contribute? I might be considered a chatterbox, but writer I am not. And then the names Carrie Bradshaw and Maureen Dowd came to mind. Yes, that’s it! A cross between feminine armchair advise and political junkie spouting. And what could be better than a platform to write a weekly Facebook status update longer than Mr. Zuckerberg allows.

That was when the negative cloud arrived overhead. 700 words? Not possible. And the horror of admitting my failures in spelling and grammar came to mind. And even worse, thinking that I could possible be censored or edited was like a sharp stick poked in my eye. My head stopped spinning long enough to learn that a column (or is it called an article?) on island life was the idea. Yes, I’ve been a year ’round resident almost 35 years, and was a summer person prior… the concept presented seemed somewhat plausible. Especially since my mind is in constant motion…..always looking at my personal gratefulness to be able to live on this spit of sand out in the Atlantic. Then, the other side of the coin presented itself, and I immediately wondered if it was a volunteer job, and if not, would the “position” be able to afford me a glass of wine out of the deal each week. I agreed to think about it.

It took me 3 minutes exactly to put conscious thought into words about this lovely topic. Because here’s the simple definition of island life. Those of us who live here year ’round are the VIP club members, and we know it. Oh, there are the occasional whiners……those who get that cabin fever and need their fix of the Cape Cod Mall and MacDonald’s….but even the whiners want to be living here, rather than Camden, New Jersey. Sorry, Camden…..(I just picked a name out of a hat.)……Nope, this column will not be a Chamber of Commerce plug….but visions of the slices of life that make our island living so special. If you are reading this, you must know what I mean. You are either a visitor to the island, a summer resident, or a “local”. That makes all of us special and bonded. And believe it or not, I was thinking of you last night as I sat in the island’s brewery warehouse on a cold windy stormy night here on the rock. I was thinking about how special it was to be with 50 or so people on winter potluck Friday, looking at beautiful shiny kegs, eating homemade comfort food, communally sitting with friends and neighbors and sharing antidotes about the winter storm that caused Nantucket to be severed from all boats and planes for three days. We all agreed that we loved the reality that we were “on our own”. Yes, I was thinking about all of you out there who were not seeing my island at that moment.

It was quite magical, really. I thought about how I was looking at a beautiful patchwork quilt of hardy, colorful, souls all brought together on this blistery night, with the wind howling outside, and the bluegrass music howling inside. There were hipsters, babies, kids, dogs, grandparents… all convened…..we were one. The base player was my daughter’s band leader in high school, the guitarist is another school instructor whose wife is a beloved bartender on the island, the harmonica player is a very talented local musician who was petting his dog with his foot as he played. And the food……Oh, the food!….bacon wrapped jalapenos, scallop pizzas, pork ribs, whoopee pies, cheesecakes…….it could not have a more perfect night for me, sitting with an accomplished fine artist, a carpenter, graphic designers, a bookkeeper, and an emergency room nurse. And that was only part one of this fun March evening. My night continued with the weekly trivia night at a local pub. Lucky me to be sharing Friday nights throughout the grey winters months with an ad guy, a computer guru, a thespian, a hairdresser, a doctor, and a Grammy winning musician.  (BTW, I love the color grey)…..A dissection of a roomful of geeks with heads full of useful and not-so-useful knowledge each Friday night in the winter could probably be fodder for another column. Remote we are in the winter. Bleak, we are not.

I think you catch my drift on how this column is going to work. I will do my best to be honest and thoughtful about how much I love living here. Not everyone wakes up and consciously thinks about how much they love the town where they live. You will read a myriad of reasons why you might want to pack your bags and become island dwellers. There will weekly glimpses of my “home and hearth”….and yes, there will be some outbursts at time regarding problems that plague us, too. That will just have to go with the territory. No place is perfect. But you will read more about perfection and happiness than discontent. And hopefully I will never be edited.

If you are reading this now, you might be traveling to Nantucket to enjoy our lovely Daffodil Weekend, or you might be on island opening your beloved summer home, or you might be a Nantucket year ’round laborer on his lunch break happy to finally be outside in the sunshine on a Main Street bench on a gorgeous spring day. OR you might be someone who loves the tranquility of January and February and March, and is dreading the onslaught of summer tourists. The commonality is that we all love Nantucket and are here because we want to be here. Not because we got off at the wrong stop. And for me, that makes it easy to live here. Warts and all. Or maybe I should say, cobblestones and all. I hope you peeps from Boston, Greenwich, and Hooper Farm Road on Nantucket all have a wonderful spring! And thank you for loving MY Nantucket so much, too.

A Nantucket Festival for Readers

by Sarah Teach

If you’ve been into Broad Street’s cozy Bookworks any time since the 1970s, you may very well have encountered Richard “Dick” Burns. A clerk at the local bookshop, Burns doesn’t consider himself to be one of the big minds behind this week’s inaugural Nantucket Book Festival, but his involvement in it suggests otherwise. “I was originally invited to a meeting this past winter as a consultant,” he says. A decade ago, Burns, who did his undergraduate studies in the English field, launched a successful literary festival in Brattleboro, Vermont that continues today. “[Doing a book festival on Nantucket] had been talked about for many years, as early as 2004, as far as I know,” says Burns, adding, “We saw what was being done at the other festivals, and they are really focused in their particular fields.” The Nantucket Book Festival is our newest annual tradition on the island, but it’s not one of indulgence in wine or worship of the silver screen. Burns says, “We’re doing this to celebrate the book, whether it’s [a digital reader] or a paper book, as a repository of literature.”

Putting on a festival is no simple task, but Burns says the only unique challenge of hosting a book fest on an island is getting the authors here. With his characteristic grin and hearty laugh, Burns offers a simple solution: “But there are boats and there are planes!” The other significant obstacles have been raising money and keeping costs down. Of this, Burns admits, “When you want to make something free, the whole thing becomes an expensive proposition.” The community has given generously of itself to help host the festival. Many inns have offered deals to accommodate the visiting authors, and Young’s Bicycle Shop has donated bikes for all authors and their families for the entire weekend!

Burns acknowledges, “These days, we’ve pretty much got everything on Nantucket. We have our graphic designers, our artists, not to mention authors.” Indeed, in addition to the 27 authors that will be coming in from off-island, there will be almost 40 local authors showing their work at the festival. “Lots of authors that are coming this year have never been to Nantucket before. Probably about half of them,” says Burns, who has been charged with author contact for the festival. “A lot of these professional writers are amazed at how any writers live here on Nantucket.” The authors who write on a national level will host seminars and talks, packing the weekend with events for a variety of literary interests. The bulk of the action will take place on Saturday, sandwiched between Friday night’s free festival opening at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House and Sunday’s Father’s Day Brunch and then a Pig Roast at Cisco Brewery. And while putting on a festival ain’t no picnic, that hasn’t precluded the organizers from hosting one. A Limerick Picnic will be held on Saturday at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum. The picnic and both closing events are the only Book Festival events that require tickets. Everything else is free and open to the public!

The folks behind the Book Festival have made it one of their primary goals to celebrate the island and, as Burns says, “Without being too ostentatious, to show it off.” But it’s not all beer and Skittles; another central goal of the Nantucket Book Festival is to use a partnership with PEN/Faulkner program to set a foundation for more literary emphasis in our schools here on the island through writing workshops.

“The whole [festival] thing is a bit artificial. A festival isn’t a creative act; it’s a show,” says Burns, waving his hand dismissively. “But in this case, the audience also [consists of] the performers. And it includes people from every aspect of the book realm, from writers to sellers to readers.” Burns’ wiggling eyebrows seem to signify a great conviction as he professes, “A festival requires a real density of heart.” Above all, Burns recommends that participants come ready to listen, and feel welcome to ask questions of the speakers and authors. For further details and a complete schedule of the Nantucket Book Festival, visit their website at

Look to the Sun

by Guest Blogger H. Flint Ranney

Solar, everyone?

Installing solar panels on your south-facing roof to heat your domestic hot water is a project that can pay for itself in less than four years.

I know, because we did it on our Nantucket house.

After battling with the HDC for a few months in 1980, we received a permit and put four panels on our roof. Pipes were plumbed down through the roof into the basement hot water tank, so that a mix of glycol and water heated by the sun in the roof panels circulated down through the tank in a closed loop and back up to the roof. Sensors turned on a pump when the roof was hot, and the system was entirely automatic. Glycol was added to prevent the fluid from freezing. It can’t contaminate our hot water because it is in a separate pipe in the water tank.

The system worked automatically for 26 years without a hitch, pre-heating the water in our hot water tank from the temperature of incoming Town water at 55 degrees, up to 80 or 90 degrees on a hot summer day. Even when it was foggy we had solar generated hot water. Even in the winter we could hear the quiet hum of the pump allowing the sun to save oil. How good is that?

The original cost was $6,500, but with tax credits in those days the net expense came to about $2,500.

In the 26th year one panel sprang a leak and we just closed it off, leaving three still operating. By the 28th year the plastic coverings had deteriorated from ultraviolet sunlight, had become somewhat opaque, and were no longer very efficient.

During those 28 years we saved an average of a gallon of oil every day. The estimate of total savings in oil not purchased was over $25,000 – a pretty good return on a $2,500 investment. About 32% per year!

We took those worn-out panels down and replaced them in 2008, with just two new panels because technology has advanced and the new ones are far more efficient. The piping and the tank were already generally in place but needed some work, and a new pump and sensors were necessary. While the roof was clear, we re-shingled it.

The total cost after a 30% Federal tax credit was $7,700. With these new panels, the inside tank sometimes reaches 130 degrees, and we have been saving two gallons of oil a day. The system has already paid for itself. At the current heating oil price of $4.26 per gallon, the cost of a new installation today would be covered in 2 1⁄2 years.

Project our experience to the rest of Nantucket: If a quarter of island homes have a south-facing roof, something like 2,500 houses could be fitted with rooftop solar panels at a total cost of about $20 million. If each home reduced its oil consumption by two gallons a day, the owner today would be saving $8 x 365 = $2,900 a year. The island would reduce oil bills by $7,300,000 every year. That $20 million would be repaid in three years. How
good is THAT? Maybe more popular than a wind turbine.

Nantucket Lights It Up Blue

Guest Blogger: Kim Horyn, Director of the Nantucket Resource Center for Autism Speaks

Nantucket is proudly participating in Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue event. Island businesses and organizations have decorated their offices with blue Christmas tree lights, and community members and students are wearing blue today to show their support of families impacted by autism.

1 in 110 children and 1 in 70 boys are currently being diagnosed with autism, a 600% increase since the mid 1990s. Autism Speaks, founded in 2005 by Nantucket summer residents Bob and Suzanne Wright when their grandson was diagnosed with autism, is the world’s largest research and advocacy organization. We are researching the triggers of autism, the most effective treatments for autism, and ultimately, a cure.

The Nantucket Autism Speaks Resource Center was established in 2007. We work closely with families to help lessen their isolation, geographically as well as emotionally. Unlike most mainland communities, we can’t easily or affordably drive to the next town to access programs. As the child gets older, his social world gets smaller, and therefore, the same is often true for the entire family.

Nantucket’s Autism Speaks Resource Center provides information, resources and tools to families and the community at large to empower and support those living with autism.  We further support families affected by autism with  a babysitter/companion list, activities for individuals to socialize, such as Pizza Parties and Family Game Nights, as well as opportunities for respite, parent networking and educational forums. In the summer, year-round and seasonal residents and visitors enjoy sailing, fashion camp, theater camp, surfing lessons, harbor cruises and much more. Our programs are open to families of individuals with any disability, not limited to autism, and we welcome siblings.

In 2009, we partnered with Liz Reinemo, a highly regarded English teacher and faculty sponsor on Nantucket, to launch Perfect Pals, a high school mentoring club. The club members plan and organize events for students with and without disabilities and provides them with fun, social activities, from mixers to theme activities and more.

Please join us on April 2, as we Light It Up Blue on Nantucket by changing your list to blue or by wearing blue.