Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Wednesday

The weekend is in sight!  It has been a busy couple of weeks at school and I am looking forward to well-deserved leisure time. Malheureusement, this weekend won't be on Nantucket.  Tis a shame too...September is a great time to be anywhere in New England.  Nevertheless, enjoy this small collection of Nantucket photos.  They are sure to brighten your day regardless of how "far away" you might be.

Old South Wharf

Dionis Beach

Sconset Bluff Walk

Sankaty Head Lighthouse

Centre Street scene

Harbor vista from the top of the First Congregational Church

Water sports at Jetties Beach

'Round the Point!

Rose of sharon

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The 12 Colors....

Part of Nantucket's charm is her homogeneity.  Her boringness, if you will.  A designated historic district since 1966, the island suffers/enjoys some of the strictest zoning laws found anywhere.  Take for instance the seemingly Draconian rules dictating the exterior appearance of one's dwelling or business.  Forget spending hours examining thousands of paint chips at your local Sherwin Williams.  The Nantucket Historic District Commission (HDC) has made your life a lot easier.  You have a choice of 12.  Unsurprisingly, eight of them are a shade of blue, gray, beige, or green.  I am a particular fan of the Essex Green--one of the most popular of the twelve.  In addition to the 11 shown below, you also can use white.  Duh, white trim!  Of course!
Take it home with you.  Want some ACK Style at your nest?  Simple!  Just take a lesson from the HDC and relegate your exterior colors to one of the Nantucket Twelve.  Say goodbye to all of those paint chip field trips!  You will take solace knowing that you have instantly participated in some long-distance color-coordination with at least a few of your favorite houses on your favorite island!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hydrangeas: Cape Cod and the Islands

A few months ago I got my hands on a new book.  That book became an instant favorite. That book is Hydrangeas:  Cape Cod and the Islands.  For a hydrangea lover, and a Cape and Islands (well, I guess I should say one island) lover, this book is a treat.  Hydrangeas are such a big part of the charm of this region.  I have been gardening since before I was in kindergarten and over the years, hydrangeas have morphed into my #1 favorite plant.  I currently have about 40 of them at my family's house here in Ohio!  Since hydrangeas are so important to Nantucket, I will talking about them in many future blog posts.
Nice cover.  Too bad it's from that other island.

Written and photographed by Joan Harrison, the President of the Cape Cod Hydrangea Society, this book includes over 300 pictures of hydrangeas in myriad settings throughout the Cape Cod-Nantucket-Martha's Vineyard region:  in private gardens, public gardens, tucked-away corners, roadsides, waterfronts, plant nurseries (including Nantucket's very own Hydrangea Farm Nursery) and even in some Cape and Island weddings.  What I really admire about this book is how it manages to not just be a hydrangea book, but actually a wonderful pictorial souvenir for the Cape and Islands.  The author/photographer did a terrific job "weaving" CC, ACK, and MVY into the background, so to speak.  This book would make for a perfect souvenir.  I also am proud to say that some of my very own handiwork made it into the book since I was able to participate in a large, new hydrangea project at a house out in the Tom Nevers neighborhood--and that project made it into the book!  Just look for the picture with 13 pink, purple, and blue hydrangeas underneath a tree canopy in the middle of a circular driveway.

For the uninitiated, hydrangeas are essentially the unofficial flower of these Massachusetts coastal retreats.  For the arm, the boomerang, and the grapes, the hydrangea is akin to how maple trees or dandelions are to the rest of America; ingrained and integral to the landscape, almost as much as the dunes and lighthouses themselves.  Come July, these storybook coastal locales are literally bursting at the seams with beautiful hydrangea flowers at every sidewalk, patio, traffic light, golf course, bank, ferry terminal, and anywhere else with a spare patch of dirt.

The jaw-dropping "Hydrangea Walk" cottage on Shore Road in Chatham, perched at the Cape's elbow.
~Reblogged from Memories on Clover Lane~

For those of you interested, the book is available via the ubiquitous online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  It also should be readily available at most bookstores in the Cape and Islands region.  I for one noticed it at both island bookstores:  Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner.

Enjoy the book and enjoy the collection of Nantucket hydrangea pictures below.  If you have/get the book, let me know what you think!

Hydrangea paniculata

Idyllic scene from Nantucket's Hydrangea Farm Nursery

Hydrangea Farm Nursery

Hydrangea Farm Nursery

Hydrangea Farm Nursery

Hydrangea Farm Nursery

VERY deep blue blooms on Hydrangea macrophylla  -- noticed on Vesper Lane, across from the hospital

Impressive hydrangeas skirting a Baxter Road house along the Sconset Bluff Walk

Occasionally, one will find a hydrangea that has "escaped cultivation," in other words, has successfully spread seed that has grown in a viable plant out in the wild.  Judging by the site (on the bluff above Low Beach in Sconset), this is one tough hydrangea!

Hydrangeas at the First Congregational Church on Centre Street

The "Hunky Dory" cottage is one of my favorite little houses in Town and they always have a beautiful show of flowers, including these well-bloomed hydrangeas

Hydrangeas spilling over a walkway.  Classic Nantucket.

I guess when you can't have real hydrangeas, some metallic ones in a festooned-lapstrake-window box are acceptable

Monday, September 17, 2012


Nantucket is an island of endless epicurean delight.  For sure, ACK is home to one of America's greatest collection of restaurants, from economical, humble cafes to five-star, prixe fixe nosheries.  The underlying tenant here is quality.  Seldom will you find any food that wasn't worth the price.  Island restaurants take great pride in being an integral component of Nantucket's reputation as a superior vacation destination.  I look forward to featuring many of these establishments over the coming months, but for now I will give you a "snapshot" of what I am talking about; Nantucket cuisine deserves at least some kind of introduction!

A Gourmand's Perfect Breakfast on the Island

Breakfast:  I am a professed breakfast lover.  I am one of those people that relishes in the opportunity to have pancakes or omelettes for dinner.  Nantucket has some stellar sit-down breakfast spots, most of them concentrated in Town (Black-Eyed Susan's is a particular favorite) but a few standouts are located elsewhere including The Downyflake close to the Rotary and two Sconset favorites:  Claudette's and The Sconset Cafe.  For simple, early-morning fare however, the island's two bakeries cannot be beat.  Petticoat Row Bakery at the north end of Centre Street has some delicious items, my favorite being the "Morning Bun" which is quite unique in its deliciousness.  Paired with a Nantucket Nectars (my favorite flavor is Red Plum) and a spot on a Centre Street sidewalk bench, this makes for a great, easy breakfast.  The Nantucket Bake Shop on Lower Orange Street at Dover Street is also brimming with tasty morning treats.  Portuguese bread makes a great Cape and Islands souvenir and the Bake Shop has ACK's best.  Other great breakfast choices:  Fog Island Cafe, Arno's, and the Centre Street Bistro.  

Ideal summer breACKfast:  Petticoat Row Bakery's Morning Bun with the hometown favorite drink, a Nantucket Nectars 

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Nantucket Door

Nantucket has some beautiful doors.  The picture here is of one of my top favorites.  It epitomizes Nantucket architectural style:  simple, cheery, honest, and functional yet masterfully executed.

Beautiful door in Nantucket Town

Take it Home with You....
If you are interested in infusing your residence with some Nantucket style, perhaps start with the front door!  A nautical door-knocker with an accompanying blue hydrangea-and-starfish-adorned-basket is unmistakably ACK.  In a later post, I will share some of the ways my family and I have "brought Nantucket home" to our house in the Midwest.   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sconset Sunrise

With a beautiful Sconset sunrise to start your day, how could it possibly go wrong?  Cheers!

A summer sun rises over the tranquil village of Siasconset (always simply called Sconset) on Nantucket's eastern edge.  Interestingly, because of geography and the Earth's wobbly axis of rotation, Sconset is the first place in America to see the sun on New Year's Day each year!  Fun fact for your next cocktail party.... 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Steps Beach

Sitting here thinking about what topic would be appropriate for my inaugural post, I considered all sorts of things.  And places.  And restaurants.  I will--eventually--get to all of them.  But, at the end of the day, Nantucket is about the beach.  The ocean.  ACK (secret code language for Nantucket--more on this in another blog post!) is an island after all...

I would rather be up against a firing squad than have to demarcate "The Best Nantucket Beach."  As if any of them were bad?  So, I am going to pick my favorite beach since this is my Nantucket blog :)

Steps Beach is undoubtedly one of the island's finest, highlighted with stunning views of Nantucket Sound
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I think this one is worth a million.  Steps Beach is not only my favorite beach, it's one of my absolute favorite places anywhere on the island.  This is Nantucket at her best: ocean views, sand dunes, boat traffic, attractive architecture, beach roses, and serenity.  Especially stunning at dawn and dusk, Steps Beach is a must-see for any Nantucket initiate.

Located on top of "The Cliff", Steps Beach is in close proximity to the heart of Town.  Marked by a "Welcome to Steps Beach" boulder, this lovely spot is reached via Lincoln Circle.  From Town, take Cliff Road west and make a right onto Highland Avenue, followed by a left onto Lincoln.  Just look for the boulder.  Oh, and about two dozen bicycles!  Surf here is minimal which is a plus since Steps Beach is unguarded.  There are no bathrooms or concessions here.  However, Jetties Beach has all of those things and is just a few hundred yard-walk along the shore to the northeast (walk guessed it...the jetty).  So in summary, Steps Beach is highly recommended--especially in June when your descent down the staircase will be perfumed with roses.
This boulder on Lincoln Circle marks the entrance to the beach pathway

Typical summer scene at Steps Beach

Steps Beach and the adjacent dunes and bluffs are loaded with Rosa rugosa bushes:  wild "beach roses" that perfume the air with their cinnamon-like scent.  Rugosas are in full-bloom for the entire month of June and bloom intermittently all summer thereafter.

Some of Nantucket's choicest real estate is located on Lincoln Circle at the top of Steps Beach

Looking west

THAT is why it's called Steps Beach!