Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Five: Nantucket Proper!!!)

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have that last story (part 4) out of my heart and down on paper (and if you need to catch up, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3). I’ve been carrying around these memories for a year now, trying to remember them, trying to hold them close lest they vaporize with all the other important information in my brain that I’ve lost, like WHERE MY OTHER FLIP FLOP IS!!! 

But it has been recorded now. The story has been told. And I feel like a million bucks! Thank you for your sweet encouragement and for letting me know the tale resonated with you – it means the world to me, and all glory to our great God who does great things.

Today’s post will be less touchy-feely than the rest, an introduction to the HEART of Nantucket. If you like action, if you like architecture, if you like homemade ketchup…

you’ll love this post. Thanks for reading!

~

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To begin today’s installment, we first must rewind 24 hours from our current place in the story and go back to that moment when, after enjoying our afternoon snacks at the Union Street Inn and quickly freshening up in our room, Mama and I set out, on foot, to tackle Nantucket.

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What fun it is to go back into my brain in this moment. I was mostly just SO happy to be alive. I definitely liked what I had seen of Nantucket so far…

but I had NO idea, really, what was in store for us, just around the corner. 

I had no idea that, a half a block down the street from our one-night residence, the manifestation of all of my village dreams was waiting for me, a real-life Mitford, if you will (albeit bigger and less affordable, ha!). We turned the corner onto Main Street and…

WOW. My pictures in no way do it justice, so do me a favor and do a Google image search of Nantucket Main Street.

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It was a sight, for sure, and then some. A treat for the eyes. The ears. The nose. The HEART. I was immediately…home. Not like, home-home, of course. Home-home was waiting for me in Oklahoma, with four little loves and that dashing red head and a wonderful church that makes my world complete. No, this was a sort of heaven-home, a slice of near perfection in a fallen world that continually disappoints me with its consumerism, its billboards, its lack of care and imagination and beauty…

I couldn’t believe this city had been there, all these years, just waiting for us.

My mom most definitely was in agreement. This was it. This was the place she had been trying to find for decades, the fulfillment of a thousand dreams and wishes.

And what we still did not yet realize, as much as we adored this first street we’d found, was that the beauty was never going to end!

You know those special rooms you have in your house where all the junk quickly goes when company is coming? Those last-minute things that you just don’t know what to do with? So you just wad it all up in a ball and throw it in there and shut the door?

Nantucket, as far as I could tell in our short time there, did not have one of those rooms.

Every residence, every yard, every street, every block, ON EVERY CORNER OF THE ISLAND, was beautiful.

I’ve been to many pretty towns in my life and many pretty Main Streets, but the quaintness usually comes to a screeching halt a couple of streets over.

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Not so here.

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It kept going…and going…and going…and going!!!

As such, when Mom and I decided just to walk for a bit to look at the pretty houses, we didn’t know that we could basically keep walking for miles. And who knows? We might have!

Every structure was gorgeous. Every house was different. Every garden was perfect. And every tiny detail was tended to and taken care of. For instance, the door latches! They were darling. Not a deadbolt in sight!

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The yards and pathways betwixt them! I’d never seen such thoroughness.

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The cobblestone streets! The brick crosswalks!

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The flower boxes in every window, each one a different variety of color and _____!

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The churches!

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The movie theater!

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Gulp…THE BICYCLES!!!

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We walked and we walked and we walked and we ooohed and we aaahed and we dreamed and we reveled. I’ll just share a couple of my favorite houses here, but at the end of this post, I’ll share a gallery of all the pictures for those of you who want to see it all.

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After walking to our heart’s content, tummies beginning to rumble, we decided to rustle up some food and, I have to say, this part was tricky for us: there were so many places to eat, but we found that a lot of the restaurants we peeked into were gearing up for their supper crowds and had a reservation-only set-up. It made sense, because the rooms were small and cozy and…well, PERFECT. I could have/would have eaten at all of them.

Finally, though, we stumbled upon a little restaurant that was immediately approachable and easy, that could seat us right away, and that had a menu that felt familiar for us middle-class landlubber gals.

It was called the Starlight Theatre & Cafe and it was the ideal place for our first Nantucket meal.

Yes, it had a tiny movie old-fashioned theatre inside (!!!!!!). Yes, the huge windows were latched wide open, giving us a full view of the street. Yes, Pioneer Woman was on the television, bringing a little Oklahoma to our Nantucket. Yes, the food was DELICIOUS. We shared a simple chicken sandwich (called the D.F.C) and fries, but it was so flavorful and filling and the ketchup…the HOMEMADE ketchup…was so ridiculously good and now all other ketchups are dead to me.

You know, just typical vacation stuff, where you find something you will forever crave that you can never have again. 🙂

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I went out onto the sidewalk to get a picture of my mama at our table. Take note of the window boxes, please, and let us all swoon in one accord.

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After this wonderful meal – at the early hour, we basically had the place to ourselves! – we set out once more, this time towards the wharf, to see what was on the other side of Nantucket. The sound of the sea was beckoning us and we walked, in a trance, water-ward.

On our way there, though, something came up that quickly interrupted our trance and I’m speaking, naturally, of a little place called “The Juice Bar”.

“We have to stop here!!!” I told Mom, immediately recognizing it as one of THE highest rated eateries on Trip Advisor, “I’ve read about this place…”

And, boy oh BOY, do we now know why it has such high ratings!

Imagine, if you will, a vast variety of homemade ice creams. Then imagine seeing the ice cream of your choice being piled into a waffle cone that is not only homemade on the spot, but that is STILL WARM (!!!!!!!), and wrapped at the bottom in lightweight foil.

I have never in my life seen anything like it. Like the poor woman in this Babylon Bee article, I lost my ability to even once I was standing in this shop, and I don’t know that I’ll ever recover; during our short stint in Nantucket, Mom and I stopped by for an ice cream cone as often as we could — mostly because we’re not dummies — and what I would give to be able to run down the street and have another one.

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Funny story, though, when it was my turn to order, I could not for the life of me decide which flavor I wanted — they all sounded delicious — and, panicking under that awful spotlight of being in the front of the line and not knowing what I wanted, my eyes just landed upon the word “cookie” and I blurted out the flavor that was attached to it. Because I do like cookies.

“I’ll have the…uhh…cookie monster!!

“Okay,” the clerk said, “but I have to warn you that it is dyed blue. Are you okay with that?”

“Oh, sure!” I brightly replied. “No problem…”

As she put my ice cream together, though, and I was able to relax into a less-blindingly-anxious state of mind now that I was no longer being put on the spot, I began to process what I had just done. A bright blue ice cream. A bright blue ice cream named “cookie monster”. Ohhhhh…as in…Sesame Street. As in, THE Cookie Monster.

As in…this was an ice cream flavor for children!!!

Me dumb-dumb. Me like cookies.

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So there I was, walking next to my mommy down the streets of Nantucket, with my bright blue ice cream cone. I wonder if people thought I had just had my vaccinations and had been “a brave girl” about getting my shots? Or that I had been to the dentist without crying?…

I certainly felt like an overgrown child.

Especially when my mom got tickled at me because my LIPS TURNED BLUE.

And my teeth.

And my tongue.

And, of course, the white undershirt that was peeking out from my v-neck tee. It had been white before The Juice Bar.

Now it had a big blue blob on it.

Because I’m a 33-year old Cookie Monster.

Anyhow, regardless of my momentary shame (that was soon replaced with uncontrollable giggles), I pray that I will never, ever forget what it felt like to walk beside my mama in this city of her dreams, ice cream dripping down our hands, the ocean to our left, the cobblestones under our feet, the cold, invigorating wind whipping our hair all over the place.

It was the stuff of dreams.

The wharf wasn’t so bad, either…

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~

The next morning, after eating our breakfast at the Union Street Inn, with a free morning and afternoon to spare before heading to the next leg of our adventure, we walked again to Main Street, this time as Nantucket was waking up for the day. Mom was, obviously, excited.

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Now…I don’t want to continually sound like an overly-dramatic gushing exaggerator, but…IT WAS LIKE A MOVIE!!!

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People greeting each other in the streets, sellers turning over signs in their windows and opening doors to customers, dogs out for morning trots with their owners, bicyclists getting in an early round of exercise, and…brace yourselves…a Farmer’s Market TRUCK setting up produce.

I stopped right there on the sidewalk and rubbed my eyes.

“This can’t be real…” I murmured to my mom.

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But it WAS real. And, in Nantucket, it was just daily life.

I wanted to sit on the sidewalk all of a sudden and cry my eyes out.

In fact, I want to cry right now, all over again.

I collected myself, however, and Mama and I managed to squeeze a lot of sightseeing and shopping into the rest of that day.

We visited the library. (sniffle sniffle).

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We shopped and shopped some more.

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More house swooning.

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Aunt Leah’s Fudge Shop. (Don’t even get me started. Best fudge I’ve ever had, and we’ve even ordered it online since! Get the Sea Turtle flavor and thank me later).

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Boat watching.

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(here’s Mom when she realized I was taking ANOTHER picture of her as she watched boats – I told ya I photographed her like she was my baby! And you haven’t seen nothin’ yet!).

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Fish n’ chip eating.

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Dock walking.

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Sigh. It was a fabulous, wonderful day, the birthday celebration of the CENTURY.

I think we should go back, maybe tomorrow.

Want to come with us??

~

Oh, boy, you guys, stay TUNED for the next installment, when Mama and I find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the playground of the rich and luxuriating. So, so, SO out of our normal mode of living…but SO FUN!!! Until then, here are some more pictures for you to enjoy! Thanks for reading!

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (the Prologue)

Greetings, blog readers!! Life has been as full as ever, a good thing, and most of my writing has been shared on my Facebook page in 2016, but I am taking some extra time in the month of September to write a very special series. My beloved mother turns 65 years old today and, for her birthday gift, I am penning a recollection of THE most precious time the two of us have ever shared.

This is no vacation slide-show; rather, the story of two women who flew across the country to find each other in a place that God, in His unbelievable kindness and sovereignty, had prepared for them.

I invite you to join us, as we travel to the island of our hearts, and celebrate one of the deepest and most faithful bonds there are, that of mother and daughter. I pray this series will not only knock my mom’s socks off, but will renew and inspire mothers and daughters everywhere, to see each other, to die for each other, and to love each other, wholeheartedly and purely, as God intended. 

~

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Moms have dreams, too.

I didn’t realize this, of course, until that topsy-turvy moment when my first child entered the world and I understood, for the first time, maybe, that my own mom is just a girl, a girl who had a baby and then had another baby and another and then one more.

This woman who raised me, who knew all the answers to all my questions, who has, from the moment my lungs first drew in a breath, caused the world to feel steady and secure…

she has a history?

She has a heart of her own, and a brain full of ideas and opinions and longings?

She is, like, a person and not just “my mom”?

She doesn’t just exist for my happiness and comfort and to find my stuff?!

Oh.

One of the greatest gifts of motherhood, then, is that it allows us to understand our own moms like we never have before. A veil is lifted and we step across and join them on the other side, in heart, in mind, in spirit.

I can look into my mom’s eyes now and understand her gaze, for was I not just turning that very same love-filled eye toward my own children?

I know now that her praise of me is sincere.

I know that she truly loves me unconditionally, to the moon and down the street and back.

And I also know that she probably wanted to eat the last piece of pie.

I had no idea, truly!

As the only daughter of the family, though, even before I had children of my own, there naturally came a time in my life where I stopped solely being the recipient of my mom’s ministrations, and began slowly taking on the role of advocate.

As I matured, I started seeing, really seeing, all the dishes she had to do.

I started empathizing with her workload.

I started tuning in to her faithful character of kindness and hospitality, even when I knew she was tired, and I did what I could to hold her arms up.

Ha, I even started making it my own personal calling in life to keep people out of the kitchen while she cooked, striking up conversations in the dining area and living room so she could think clearly and juggle all her different recipes until the last dish was in the oven!

We became a real team, the two of us, much like my brothers and my dad out on the farm or at the sawmill or at the gas plant.

I’m not good at many of the things there are to be good at in this world, but I was born, I think, to be on “Team Mom”.

Anyhow, my mom had been talking about it for years, this dream to go to Maine.

It didn’t reach my ears for the longest time.

It didn’t reach anybody’s ears, not really.

This was Mom! She needed to stay home and take care of us. And we had places that we needed to go. And then there was that long stream of graduations and marriages and pregnancies and births and newborns and then I looked up and I was 33 years old and my mom was about to turn 64.

Where had the time gone?

It was as spontaneous as anything we’ve ever done, by a MILE, and I will say that it was Spirit-led for the rest of my life, because I’m telling you, it was.

I called my dad. I called my husband. Three ‘yeses’, including mine, and…

oh my goodness, the rest is totally history.

The kind of history we will never, ever forget

~

If Mom’s dream was to go to Maine, why is this series titled “Dancing Hearts in Nantucket”?! Stayed tuned for Part Two tomorrow!! All will be revealed…

Selah Springs: The Friendship

I’ll never forget just how much I needed to meet her…

No matter how I tried, I was a fish out of water at the University of Oklahoma. Turns out my niche was at home with Mama and Daddy, and my home church was always heavy on my heart, making it extremely difficult to forge deep relationships, even at the Baptist Student Union…a place that should have been my stomping ground. The ministry there was amazing, bringing up a thriving and passionate group of young believers who loved the Lord and lived on mission. During school breaks, many of them were traveling overseas to spread the gospel, and everything they did was very intentional and very inspiring.

In contrast, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Rather than finding a new church home in Norman, I made the 2-hour drive home every weekend to drink in the home air and attend church where my heart was. The thought of an overseas mission trip made my knees wobble. And while I was in awe of the staff leaders and absolutely thrived under their large-group teaching, I was pretty sure from our attempts at one-on-one time that we were on totally different pages. Maybe in different books. Perhaps written in different languages.

Looking back, I can clearly see now that God had definite and unique plans for my life that involved those tight bonds to the homefront staying securely in place, but at the time, I was extremely conflicted, trying to do what I thought I was supposed to be doing, but feeling very alone and like a total oddball, even as I admired and became friends with many wonderful students in my small group. In fact, my brothers and I even referred to me as “the black sheep of the BSU”. This was no one’s fault: I was a people-pleaser who simply did not know where to fit in…and they did not know quite what to do with me! (And I can’t blame them…what are you supposed to do with a girl who is “there” but SO not there?!).

But then I met Andrea.

She was visiting our BSU small group one night, considering the possibility of making a permanent move to Norman to join the staff as a sorority ministry leader. We hit it off immediately, and I was drawn to her like a crayon to Baby Betsie’s mouth. We had many shared interests, mostly involving shopping and music and popular entertainment, but it turns out, God had deeper plans for us, that would eventually involve discipleship and accountability, and several years of sweet fellowship as Andrea allowed me to help her with her ministry to sorority girls. Our favorite times together happened over steaming cups of hazelnut at Panera Bread, or at my parent’s house on weekends as we melted under the ministrations of my Mom’s hospitality, and laughed at Andrea’s city girl ways. But here was a woman who loved me as I was, seeing the beauty of my life at home in the country, appreciating it, and even finding ways to employ it – I’ll never forget the week she was brave enough to bring a small group of sorority girls to Mama and Daddy’s house for a retreat, titled “Pampered on the Prairie”. I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember lots of laughter and joy and feeling…vital. Useful. Normal. My life was once more in one piece and my heart was no longer torn between where I needed to be and where I wanted to be; the BSU and the homestead had finally found a way to share custody, and as a result, I was at rest.

Life went by quickly as it always does, and graduation soon came. I happily returned to my home, this time with a shiny engagement ring on my finger, and two years later, I was married, living in Kentucky, and great with child…

But if what happened to me during my years after leaving OU was a whirlwind, Andrea’s was an F4 tornado: my blond-haired city friend fell quickly and deeply in love with a Texan who had made a short pit-stop in Norman, and was whisked away to his game ranch in the Hill Country, complete with rattlesnakes and scorpions and…the nearest Target? Who knows where.

But regardless of walking into a completely different lifestyle, Andrea is still refreshingly the same. The proud mother of 2 beautiful girls, she is our own version of the Pioneer Woman, and helps her husband, Phil, manage Selah Springs like a true pro, even cooking for the large groups who rent out the Main Lodge. If you had told me 8 years ago where she would be today, I would never have believed you, but no one is surprised by her ability to adapt to a completely new environment; we knew it the first time we were around her…there is nothing Andrea cannot do.

All that to say, the greatest thrill of my vacation last week had to be seeing my dear friend once more, now in her new element, thriving, joyful, and most excitedly, continuing to grow in the fear and knowledge of God. ‘Tis a wondrous thing to have friends who share not only your memories, but your blood – for in the Savior you find your greatest bond as you hide together behind His great grace and sacrifice. Because of Him, we speak the same language, and therefore, picking up where we left off is as effortless and God-ordained as the day our friendship was forged.

It was a soul-stirring week as I contemplated once more God’s gracious provision for me in bringing Andrea into my life at just the right time…and nearly a decade later, He did it all over again, this time at Selah Springs Ranch.

~

 Me and Andrea at my parent’s house in 2004…

On my wedding day in 2005…

And now, our daughters played together on the banks of the San Saba River in 2012…

God is very, very good.

~

Coming up tomorrow…Selah Springs: The River