Nantucket and the Newbegins, my maiden name, go back a ways. I first visited Nantucket with my parents as an idea when, pre-kids, they frequented the island with college friends. My sister and I later joined them as babes making our parents navigate the cumbersome cobblestones on Main with toddler and stroller. At 13, while on a two week bike camp, I would race out of the island’s youth hostel at night onto the satin, cold sand with several other tween girls. We’d attempt a group cartwheel mid sprint and land in a heap, a gaggle of giggling girls staring at the zillion other suns sparkling above. I was almost the daughter of Nantucket Inn owners during the 80’s when my parents contemplated buying a B&B with other couples from our Massachusetts suburb. ‘If we could only turn back time and convince them to do such a thing!’ lamented me often.
I am a mother now and just returned from a week’s stay on Nantucket with my husband and children. The island has changed a lot since scrimshawed whale teeth and walks up Main to glimpse the Three Sisters, and yet the energy has stayed the same. Step off the ferry, be yourself. There is a fabulosity quotient beckoning the american ‘Town and Country’ set and the Gray Lady is surviving quite well. All of this is so fitting for an island reinvented by entrepreneurial american ideals. An afternoon at both the Shipwreck and Life Saving Museum along with a viewing of Ric Burn’s film Nantucket at The Whaling Museum enlightened me to the energy I connect with when visiting. Knowing finite, the island has always embraced change, the edge, adaptation. It’s known not to discriminate, that death is a shipwreck at sea away and you must respect wildlife and mankind or erosion will ensue. It most succinctly learned to be present. Now you have Nantucket, in 400 years you will not.
I am not telling you something. There were three famous Newbegin sisters that called Nantucket home, Anne, Phoebe and Mary. There was even a trunk on display at the Whaling Museum. How fun to have Nantucket ancestors that partook in the island’s golden era of whaling! However, my excitement quickly turned to disdain when my father researched them at Nantucket’s town hall. We learned there was also a George Newbegin and that all of them were beyond eccentric to put it lightly. They were taken under the watchful eye of the Quakers as their eccentricities went so far as tucking their pet chickens in at night in their bedroom drawers, walking to town only to be seen circling three times around every tree there and back, and brother George who swam 2/3’rds of the way across a local pond only to learn he couldn’t make it the final third so turned around and swam back. Hmm. But it turns out we are not in relation to the Nantucket Newbegins. The sisters were spinsters, never having children of their own and George had no recorded children we could find. Phew.
Last week’s stay was busy, relaxing, fulfilling and enriching all in one. We rented out on Pockomo and were lucky to have the quiet bay in our back yard. This was great for the boys to collect minnows in the tide pools, to watch the sunset and kite surfers on a windy day. Biking is still my favorite while visiting and Kai and I biked as far as 7 year old legs could take us. We saw the Wauwinet, cranberry bogs, the sunrise and Sankaty Lighthouse. I had to refrain from frolicking in the flowers in Sconset and it was sad, sad moment when I realized the sea is gobbling this end of this island up 5′-10′ per year. We all got familiar with the surfboard, I faced my fear of sharks at Jetties and although I didn’t think it was possible, I finally got my fill of the shops in town. I picked up needlepointing thanks to Erica Wilson, bought a chandelier at Christopher’s and makeup at Follain There is still the snapping turtles to feed, Coskata Coatue beach to drive our car on and sailing to be done, but for now I will revel in my memories from a far away island out at sea.
Please enjoy the photos and share your Nantucket memories and photos below or at @robinroberge #catchhaberdashery on Instagram. Signing off now as I just noticed some trees in my yard and will not get a thing done until I circle them thrice.