Well, I do also miss my dogs.
What have I done while here? Not much. Walked into or out of town on errands or visits a few times. Had drinks twice with a brand-new friend who feels like an old friend. Shoveled out the drive after the second blizzard. Went to church on Sunday and Ash Wednesday. Mostly, I've written. And what a pleasure and gift it is, to get up in the morning and realize, after making the bed and getting dressed, that I have nothing at all to do except write. In a quiet, clean house, where there's no dinner to fix or laundry to fold.
I have also fallen in love with Nantucket. Specifically, Nantucket in winter. I'm sure it's quite lovely and all in the summer with the beaches and roses and beautiful young things with tan legs biking around town. But I love the beauty of wind-scoured headstones and empty streets heavy with snow, and the gray-on-on-gray compositions of shingle houses, bare trees, and looming storm clouds.
|This one's not mine - I clipped it from CBS News.|
Picking up groceries at the Stop and Shop was like an after-church coffee hour, one person after the next hailing a friend and catching up. I'm not sure if it would be possible to do a quick dash in and out if you were a native. When I went walking, drivers would wave as they passed me. Not many drivers - as near as I can tell, half if not more of the houses in town are shuttered for the winter. I have the feeling if I stayed one more week I'd probably wind up on a committee for historical preservation, or as a volunteer at the Atheneum, the town library.
I confess there's also a glamorous side to the winter here, albeit a different kind of glamor than the New York media celebrities and Masters of Wall Street of summer. The new friend I mentioned above is New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer (who loves mysteries!) While eating lunch at the Fog Island cafe, she said, "Oh, here's another writer friend I want you to meet! Nat! Come over here!"
It was Nathaniel Philbrick, Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the National Book Award. (He was very nice.) Uncle Al turned out to be Professor Emeritus Alfred W. Crosby, who pretty much single-handedly invented the discipline of ecological history. Nancy's husband Charley Walters, who gave me a fabulous tour of their 1840 house, is a former music critic for Rolling Stone.
Can you imagine who I might have met if I got to stay another week?
Coming off this amazing opportunity for daily writing and connecting with so many fascinating people, I have come to the conclusion that we need some sort of foundation - a large, well-funded foundation - whose sole purpose is to give crazy-busy women the chance to be alone and quiet and work at ---you fill in the blank. Their paintings, their books, their sun salutations, their souffles. In the meantime, I hope you all get a chance to run away from home - for a little while - to a place as marvelous as Nantucket.
Many, many thanks to Meg Ruley, David Lovett and the many members of the Ruley family who made my writing retreat possible!
|Me and Aunt Fran after her talk at the Whaling Museum.|