Nantucket time is an entity all its own; though it seems to pass more slowly than regular time, when you find yourself getting ready to leave, you find it’s passed way too quickly. So, when it’s that “cold November of the soul” that Melville writes about in Moby Dick, take a day to explore one of the best island destinations to be found.
I’m on the slow ferry out of Hyannis, anticipating the first sighting of Brant Point Light that has served as a welcoming beacon for nautical vessels for many a year. The two hour plus ferry ride is the perfect buffer between the everyday mainland existence and the rarefied atmosphere of the one time whaling capital of the world.
Once we’ve docked, we head up the cobble stoned Main Street to Arno’s for breakfast. We get lucky and nab a window table where we can watch the island brighten under a brilliant morning sun and watch the passers by as the island wakes up. Fully nourished, we walk further up the incline of main street to burn off some calories while we admire the beautiful and well maintained houses and inns that line the street. These were once the domiciles of sea captains and whaling magnates and today they serve as a glimpse into our nation’s past as they have all been carefully preserved. We walk back into town and wander from shop to shop admiring everything from antiques to contemporary kitchen ware. We stop in at The Hub, a newspaper and odds and ends store that continues to serve as one of the town’s major focal points. “Meet me at the hub” is a well used phrase on the island.
After a bit more exploration of the town’s many nooks and crannies, we elect to have lunch at one of our island favorites; The Brotherhood of Thieves. This smallish basement restaurant makes a mean burger and they serve the locally made ale from Cisco Brewers. Having a nice Bailey’s Ale on the island where it’s made is a beer lovers dream.
Our afternoon consists of more wanderings around the town and we initiate a search of antique Nantucket Baskets, baskets that were once hand woven by lighthouse boat keepers to fill the lonely time away from home. We venture down Sparks Avenue to Michael Kane’s where the world renowned weaver makes magic happen. I’d heard quite a lot about his intricate and beautiful creations and thought the disciptions were from over the top crazed basket collectors; that all changed as soon as I walked into his shop and saw what can only be described as art. The shopkeeper told us Kane had been weaving baskets since he was an eighth grader and I can only wish I had the persistence it must have taken to be able to become so proficient. I had also heard his baskets were on the expensive side; we found this to be all too factual when we found many of the pieces are priced well into the thousands. Looks like I’ve found another obsession I can’t afford.
Before we have to leave, we stop in at the Atlantic Cafe for a bite to eat and a farewell Whale’s Tale Pale Ale (another Cisco brewed offering) and I figure it’s not too early to start planning our next visit.