A light in the darkness
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When I first moved to Nantucket you could sit on my porch and see nothing but darkness. On summer nights you could hear the guitar riffs from the legendary music hall and bar called Thirty Acres, fighting for aural space with the peepers.
Corky Laing, who I got to know a few years ago and who was the drummer for the classic 1970s power trio Mountain, was said to have written the song “Mississippi Queen” on the spot one hot summer night at Thirty Acres, when the power went out on every instrument on the stage except his drums.
But this is not a screed about the way things once were on Nantucket. This is about how a neighborhood was created. Friendship Lane was built out of a sandpit in the last 20 years. Things change. This time the change was good. It is a neighborhood of working people, where my son and his pals would skateboard when they were kids. It is where my grandkids are now brought for day care.
And it is where the best Christmas lights on the island can be found. Every year Scott Bamber turns his house into a landing strip for St. Nick. These are serious Christmas lights. I have often wondered if you can see them from Google Earth.
Years ago I thought it was kind of cool when a couple of large blowup snowmen could be seen on some yards. And downtown always looks nice this time of year. But at Bamber’s there is even a small train that shuttles kids through the yard/exhibit.
It has encouraged some of the neighbors to fire up their own Christmas-light displays. But these fall into the category of outlining the silhouette of your house with lights. It can be very pretty, but it is the same holiday lighting scheme I use on a much smaller scale. They need a few upgrades before they can be called Bamber-esque.
I know Christmas is a religious holiday. I even know a yard where you can see a giant blow-up dreidel, if you want to be multi-denominational this time of year. Still, there are plenty of places on this island where when it is dark, it is dark. Lights in the darkness of winter, especially in times of struggle, are a good thing. Just ask the Druids. And a few bright lights in the darkness cannot be too far from what is sometimes called the true meaning of the season.
– John Stanton is a writer and filmmaker on Nantucket