Few places make you contemplate the past like Nantucket. Its name means “faraway place” and its history reaches back 5,000 years when it was formed by glacial melting. Since the British first settled this 14-mile-island in 1659, it has become a harbinger of popped collars, sweatered shoulders, and boat shoes. Its cobblestone streets are shared by both New England elite and surly seafarers, but everyone obeys the heartbeat of the sea.
This past weekend was the first time I visited Nantucket in 17 years. Through endless bowls of clam chowder and pints of Sam Adams I became reacquainted, because to know Nantucket is to eat there. Restaurants like the Rose & Crown, Brotherhood of Thieves, and Cy’s Lobster Pot embody the island's hand-hewn, salty spirit. Institutions like the Whaling Museum capture the intensity of our country’s transition from bloodthirsty hunters to eco-minded preservationists. But it’s not until you walk along the streets, smell the honeysuckle air, and greet every passerby that you begin to understand the island’s unspoken code. Nantucket abides by its own set of rules governed by history, prosperity, and the Atlantic. Atop our third-story loft at The Cottages we lost ourselves in the all-encompassing nautical rhythm of the boats and ferries in the harbor.
Nantucket is an anomaly that’s as grand as it is quaint and as austere as it is friendly. Above the billion-dollar inhabitants and Ralph Lauren aspirations, beyond the Ivy League summers and basketed bicycles, and more colorful than the flower boxes adorning the perfectly kempt houses simmers a culture of continual history and mystery.