Islander's Blog

Finigan’s Finding

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“Yeah, May is one of my top-12 favorite months out here,” he said over Bud Lights at LoLa on a busy sushi Sunday.

I’m celebrating my first one-year anniversary this month. No, not with a significant other. (You’d actually need a boyfriend to do that). But in the most significant relationship I have . . . with this island. For the first time since high school, I’ve lived in the same zip code for a full calendar year. Sure, I did the Nantucket Shuffle three times, but I did stay on the rock for all four seasons. So here, in my 12th column, are my findings month by month. It’s too easy to start with January and so I’ll start with June-uary.

June is my birth month. I celebrate my birthday until America’s birthday, so the month is a constant party. There’s the Film Festival and those beach barbecues with all your old friends who are so psyched to be back. There’s the promise of warm weather but you still need Patagonia fleece after the sun sets over Madaket. It’s a tricky month as you don’t want to get a “handcuff” too early, so we all just play the field and toast the sunshine.

July is filled with Nantucket Reds, tennis whites and the endless Atlantic ocean blues. We kick off the summer after the Fourth and every night starts to feel like a Saturday with countless tourists and weekend warriors. 

August is known as eight weeks long. Some call it awful, others call it the only time they really get to spend on Nantucket. The restaurants are constantly booked, you can barely drive a block without getting caught in “island traffic” and trying to park in the Grand Union lot at 11:30 a.m.? Fuggetaboutit. There is the Boston Pops, then the Opera House Cup and an influx of people you’ve never seen before. But oh then there’s that August silver lining! That last week of the month, right as all the college kids return to their Ivy Leagues and the families head back to their suburban life where the rock becomes complete bliss. At least until we all work our tails off on Labor Day.

September. You can’t explain it. It’s just perfection. I don’t care that February is the shortest month of the year. September always ends too quickly. The good days never last long enough. 

October is filled with bridesmaids, deserted beaches, that crisp Nantucket air and ends with a blanket of stars over us nightly. I’ve often thought October is the new September with the island becoming a true weekend spot and the weekdays reserved for the blue-hairs who take the Hy-Line over for a day of clam chowder and leaf-peeping. This is the best time for a fall fling as the island feels a little more like home again and we all have a little more time to ourselves.

November is quiet, cold and darkness falls before you can hear the five o’clock bell ring. Much of the seasonal staff leaves as soon as the Halloween candy at Stop & Shop is put on clearance. Many people get the urge to take a little vacation. Whether it’s Napa or Naples, Thanksgiving with the whole family back home or just a huge feast at the Faregrounds, we all try to get a little R&R and a bit of off-island time before the most wonderful time of the year.

December overflows with sales, Stoli and Strolling as the month brings back so many summer people to the island’s ultimate holiday weekend. Christmas Stroll is like July 4 of the winter with down jackets and hot cider instead of Lily dresses and cold brews. With all the festivities and furs and celebrations and libations, the month passes in the blink of an eye as we prepare to wave goodbye to another Nantucket year.

January is quiet, cool, calm and collected, like a diligent student. People join the Westmoor and take long walks at Sanford Farm. We sit back and relax and get comfortable in our own chilled skins. We make plans to make no plans and enjoy the serenity and solitude from Surfside to Sconset.

February is not a short as it may appear on the calendar. We start to get the itch to get off the Rock and every time we do, Mother Nature steps in and makes it impossible to leave with high winds and rough waves. The island becomes a burden and we sometimes wonder why we decided to stay here during the desolation of the winter months.

March is called “Hate Month,” but you can decide for yourself. I think life is all about the way you look at things, so you can look at the glass as half empty or you can fill up a little extra Pinot Noir in yours while you “salut” to the last of the bitter cold days.

April is the cruelest month. We so yearn for summer that the fog and frost can dampen our spirits for days. We see the daffys bloom and think about that opening weekend on the Rock and than complain that it is happening too late. Like a hot and cold woman that you can never seem to please, April ends up being the month that almost breaks us up. But you know what they say about those showers . . .

And finally, May. My favorite month. The month of homecomings and restaurant openings. Thirty-one days of Sauvignon Blanc and sailing, familiar faces and the new names that make you think this is going to be the best summer ever. Festivals, Figawi and the Fourth are right around the corner, and we all smile as we walk up Main Street in a T-shirt.

So happy anniversary to my one and only. Here’s to many more to come.
– Holly Finigan’s “Finigan’s Findings” appears regularly in this space and on page 5B of this week’s Inquirer and Mirror.

2 Responses to “Finigan’s Finding”

  1. Kelly Paulson Gifford Says:

    Happy Anniversary, Holly! My father, Barry has been on Island over 30 years now. We call him the old man in the sea. I was 18 when I stepped on the rock for the first time. I ended up there by default. My parents were split when I was 11. When I turned 18, it was Dad’s turn. I arrived with a suitcase filled with shorts, jeans, T-shirts and a sweater, and stayed til I was almost 20. The first night on island the sounds of the waves and beam from the lighthouse lit my sleeping quarters and kept me tossing all through the night. In the morning my, dad told over breakfast that we were going downtown. He gave me some cash to rent a bike, find a job, and a place to stay.

    He dropped me off at the Hub, instructed me to buy a map, pointed me toward the bike shop and told me to start at one end of Main Street and knock on every door until someone hired me. He said that he’d see me later. I asked him how he’d find me, he smiled and told me “it’s an Island, Kelly”. I made it up Main Street to Congdon’s Pharmacy by about noon, bought lunch and found a job working behind the counter. A customer at the lunch counter told me about a basement room right across from the store, on Main and Orange, $90.00 per week, I took it. I was so proud when dad pulled up and whistled me back into the jeep late that afternoon. Mission accomplished.

    That was in the spring of 1980. That summer I worked 6 am at the phamacy, evenings at The Mad Hatter in the summer, Henry Fee’s in the fall. The Skipper, and The Chicken Box in the winter. Pneumonia and Cottage Hospital in February, opening cottages and cleaning flounder for Charlie Sails the spring. I moved so much and had so many jobs. My first roommates my first time seeing snow, my first down jacket. I grew up there. I wonder do they still have “Wapatula” in the beach in the fall? LOL

  2. nora Says:

    I have missed reading your findings. Are you still around? Hope all is well with you and your family. Really miss your take on the Island.

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