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!

Mrs. Gore’s Cure for the Common Cold

I woke up sick Saturday morning, after a week of trying to avoid catching whatever it was that had my son, Gideon, down for 7 days and counting.

Stuffy nose.

Headache.

Extremely sore throat.

Not to mention the tossy and turny night of sleep the entire family had, what with a thunderstorm, and a crying Gideon (who couldn’t breathe or sleep and refused to take the red cough syrup we offered him), and a teething Betsie, and, not to be outdone, a scared Rebekah who fled from her upstairs room at the first flash of lightning.

The night was so dramatic, Mr. Gore reportedly slept in the sunroom floor beside Gideon (who had finally fallen asleep on the glider), and I woke up sometime that morning with Rebekah on my face, my head pounding and my throat raging in discomfort. I was so groggy and felt so sick that, rather than shuffle around the house to find my husband, I felt around for the cordless phone and called him.

I’m so glad I did, because I discovered that he wasn’t even in the house, but in the shed, putting together the chalkboard he is making for our homeschool room. He could come in and take care of me, he said, followed by a gentle reminder that this was one of his only days to work on the chalkboard before our first day of school on September 4th.

I’ve gotta have that chalkboard.

And so the next 3 or 4 hours were spent just trying to make it until naptime.

Coffee helped a little.

Especially the 2nd cup.

And then I gave in and took a couple of extra-strength Tylenol.

And then, after I finally managed to feed them breakfast, Gid and Rebekah joined Papa in the shed, and it was just me and Betsie.

The day was much easier with just one child to watch, but time still went tick-tockingly slow, and I was hard-pressed to get much of anything done, my primary goal being to maintain a good attitude and to allow Betsie to roam around a bit rather than be locked up in her playpen where I was sorely tempted to put her.

But time marches on, and water has a way of boiling even when we’re watching the pot; before too long, I heard a little knock on the door. Looking out the peephole, I saw that my visitor was very short with a thick crop of red/blonde/brown hair. Gideon was back. And extremely dirty. It was straight to the shower for him, and I wondered how much longer it would be before Mr. Gore would return with our sure-to-be-dirty daughter. We were so very close to lunchtime now, with naptime just around the corner.

Somehow…someway…I had almost made it through this painfully slow Saturday morning…

However, when Gideon was finished showering, something extraordinary happened. Leading his baby sister to follow him up the stairs, he shut the nursery door and “baby-sat” her for me so I could rest. As I heard their laughter floating down the stairs, my heart immediately relaxed within me, and I sank down into a chair and waited for the rest of my family to come back home.

And that’s really when my day sort of turned magical…

I heard them before I saw them. Hopping up and opening the front door, I met them on the porch, both of them wet from the rain they had to run through to get back to the house. Rebekah was howling and Mr. Gore was smiling as he held her close. “She heard thunder about halfway across the yard and got scared.” he explained.

Setting her down on a towel right inside the front door, he asked for a couple of more minutes to tidy up the shed before lunch. Nodding, I began to “clean” Rebekah with wet wipes (or “wipe wipes” as she calls them), even as the tears continued to flow down her soft cheeks. There was a nice breeze blowing through our open door as I knelt there before her, and a steady rain continued to fall, leaving puddles on our sidewalk for the first time in months. The grass here in Oklahoma is so sun-scorched and rain-thirsty it has turned to the color of straw, and numerous tree limbs lay scattered across our acreage from trees that just seem to have given up and let go of their extra weight in the rec0rd-breaking temperatures.

Thus, the beckoning to go out-of-doors became irresistable. Turning my ear toward the stairs, I listened to make sure no one was crying before asking Miss Sunday if she might like to join me on the front porch.

“But I’m scared…” she cried. “The thunder might get us…”

“No it won’t…” I called, as I made my way to my rocking chair outside. “Come sit with me! I’ll keep you safe.”

Seconds later, I heard the creak of the screen door and her swift but heavy footsteps upon our concrete porch. Reaching me, she held up her ams, and I plunked her down safely in my lap.

She cuddled up against me and laid her head on my chest before wrapping her soft little arm around me. I covered the both of us with my favorite lightweight blanket and we methodically and calmly rocked, the wind blowing our hair back while light drops of rain periodically splattered us, even from our cozy perch under the shelter of the porch.

Sitting there with my 3-year old girl in my lap, my longing for naptime shifted, and I was left with one desire: to sit there forever, rocking, loving, holding, singing, and talking, with lots of kisses atop her head in-between.

“Isn’t God good to us, Rebekah?” I asked her.

She nodded her head, and pulled the blanket tightly under her chin. Her damp hair was turning wavy on my arm, and the wind was blowing wisps of those perfect golden strands all around her face.

“We are enjoying some of the best things that there are in life right this minute: family…and love…and rain…and God’s creation…see the trees blowing in the wind?” I said, hoping that she might pick up on a few of the many words I was saying, and that the truth would begin to take root in her heart that life was best enjoyed in simple and pure moments like we were sharing on our front porch, surrounded by the things God had made rather than the destructible treasures of man.

We sat quietly for a time, her blue eyes looking unblinkingly up at me in her signature gaze.

Finally she piped up. “I’m so gwad that God sent some wain to help gwow my fwowers.”

For just moments before, she had been picking and then replanting wildflowers by the shed where Papa was working. “Yes!” I exclaimed. “God is SO good to send some rain on your flowers.” I thought of the handful of farmers I know who had been desperately needing this rain, and trusting in the sovereignty of God to care for their crops and for their livelihood. My heart was happy to consider the gratitude they must be feeling at that very moment, echoed in the high-pitched voice of a 3-year old girl who was also worried about her plants…

It took Papa longer than he expected to tidy up the shed, and Gideon and Betsie were having a grand time upstairs, giving me and this treasure of a daughter plenty of time to commune with one another as we rocked and rocked and rocked. Before I knew it, lunchtime was upon us; Mr. Gore, seeing that I was in Mama heaven, offered to make the children some sandwiches, and allowing us to rock and sing songs until it was time to eat.

We soon moved on to the next part of our day – naptime! – but I was very glad this misty Saturday morning to have found the cure for the common cold, a surefire distraction to all that ails you…

Love. Family. Gratitude.

And for sure, a good rocking chair on the front porch.

~

Want to hear another Front Porch Tale from the archives? Click here.