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“So what are you going to do here all winter?”
If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked this question over the last month, I’d be able to buy dinner at Topper’s. For 12. For a month.
Every person I’ve encountered has had a different opinion on my decision to stay on Nantucket for the chilly months. Some of the comments I’ve received include a vehement “Don’t do it!” and a sarcastic “Can’t wait to talk to you in March.” There’s been the ever-so-judgmental “What are you thinking?” and the cynical “Oh, you must be in love.”
But those are just the glass-half-empty of it. The others, all the “so excited you’re staying” and “you’re going to love the off season,” come from the community of year-rounders who consider “townies” a term of endearment. So over the last month, I’ve started collecting ideas and things I want to do during my rookie winter on The Rock.
My morning routine? How does a cup of organic coffee and a breakfast burrito from The Green sound while I drive the Jeep to Surfside to watch the waves on a crisp December morning? Sounds like I’m pretty lucky to see the ocean every day.
Looking to save a little dough? How about win a few prizes that will make your winter worthwhile? On Mondays, you can get a $5 burger at the Brotherhood of Thieves for dinner and follow your thirst over to the Starlight where you can play Bingo. And who doesn’t love hanging out at the Starlight where you can eat, drink, watch the latest movies and be merry with all your Nantucket friends? You can’t find these sort of “Cinema” experiences everywhere on the mainland.
And for all those hoping to avoid putting on the 10 pounds of winter weight, gym memberships for the off-season are hot commodities. You’re likely to find your best friends trying to stave off the chill in the steam room after the latest craze of that Zumba workout. Heck, if that dance class makes staying in bathing-suit shape a little easier, I’m game.
Cisco Brewery is open until 7 p.m. again, and if you want a Grey Lady or a Gale Force gin and tonic, you can have them any day of the week while playing cribbage or Shut the Box with your friends. You’d never get everyone together in July. But in January? Definitely.
How many of you out there love looking out at those crisp Nantucket stars? The clear skies of this island can be scanned at the Maria Mitchell Association’s Loines Observatory. Over a century of star-gazers have enjoyed this spot.
Other advice I’ve received states the importance of getting off The Rock for little breaks. Trips to Portsmouth, N.H., a weekend in the Big Apple, renting a ski house in Killington, or a week in Bermuda can cure a little island fever.
But wait. Isn’t this how everyone survives winter in their hometown?
Whether you live in Sconset or Syracuse, Madaket or Montpelier, Polpis or Pennsylvania, Wauwinet or Washington, winter is what you make of it. It’s those mini-vacations that make the snow and ice on the windshield all that more bearable. And the off-season is for reading books and getting healthy. It’s all about reconnecting with old friends over dinner parties, and enjoying the occasional jam band at Cambridge Street. It’s never waiting for a drink at The Box and always being able to make an advance reservation for dinner at Lo La.
The winter might make others scowl and complain, they may frown at the desolate sandy beaches or wish they would have chosen a life in Natick over Nantucket. But at the end of every day (which seems to be at 3:30 p.m. lately) you can find me getting a frozen pizza, waving at all my Nantucket family at the bustling metropolis of the Stop & Shop and getting a good bottle of Malbec at Hatch’s. I arrive home to my roommates, not regretting a second about choosing this island over the Bahamas or Bali.
And for all you out there that merrily come bACK for Stroll, you smile at our Main Street lined with Christmas cheer and dine at the restaurants buzzing with holiday libations and enough Nantucket bay scallops to satisfy every seafood palate. Please remember that these local smiles last for more than a bustling three-day weekend.
I guess you’re all right. I am in love. With Nantucket. Every season of it.
– Holly Finigan
Finigan’s Findings appear weekly in this space and in The Inquirer and Mirror