Surrounded By the Sea

There is a bracing breeze here in Nantucket this morning. The flags are flapping in the stiff wind, making cracking sounds above the gulls’ morning screeches. (Everyone flies flags here, the beach houses look as if they’re in a parade, with the stars and stripes, nautical pennants, and even the national flags of visitors waving from huge staffs.)

We slept though a thunderstorm Sunday night that actually uprooted the umbrella on the terrace. The weather during the day has been splendid so far. As timing has worked out, this is a rare, annual visit when I’m not in the middle of a book project. So my morning writing has been otherwise focused.

It’s fascinating to be somewhere once a year that is like slipping into the most comfortable chair you own or your best-fitting outfit. It’s as if nothing has changed, and some Brigadoon-like, mystical characteristic creates the place for the one week we show up. When I walk into the bar each evening I feel like Norm on “Cheers”—although I’m doing a tad better than his famous line, “It’s a dog’s world and I’m wearing a Milkbone suit.”

But it’s absolutely true and comforting to go somewhere “where everybody knows your name.” (If you’re familiar with the show, that tune is going through your mind right now.)

This island clears your mind, washing the cobwebs out of the synapses, allows you to see better mentally. I gain tremendous insights here, and a strong sense of continuity. Last night, smoking my cigar with some fine Madeira and looking at the sky, I realized that I’ve done this for so many years that it’s a part of my being, a return to ancestral grounds of my own making.

I’ve always found Martha’s Vineyard too noisy and too crowded. There aren’t enough great restaurants, and it lacks the same feeling of remoteness for me. The President is over there, and I’m here.

Chacun à son goût.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.


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