Sunday, January 27, 2008

Given To Fly

There are three major flight paths outside my window: Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK.

With the frequent buzz of tourist helicopters and Hudson River air traffic, the skies above me are constantly crowded with jet engines, propellers, and blinking red lights. It's an apt metaphor for New York City, really. Or, for that matter, my brain.

Friday night, though, found Chris and I wandering an empty Nantucket wharf. The water was still. The Steamship Authority's klieg lights illuminated empty docks. Slips were barren. Cottages were vacant. And nary a dog stirred on the island.

For many, Nantucket conjures images of trophy homes and whale print pants. For me, though, it is this: modest, gray clapboard houses; narrow, sandy roads; and silence: yawning, effortless, limitless silence.

Chris and I were on Nantucket from Friday at ten o'clock to Saturday at two o'clock.

Sixteen hours.

That brief instant in time afforded us a substantive and inspirational morning with Beverly Hall, the photographer who captured one of the island's most beloved images of local icons Fred Rogers and Millie Jewett, and one other thing: silence.

It wasn't until our time with Beverly, there in her hand-built home overlooking Hither Creek, that I began to realize just how quiet it was. Sitting there, pouring over photos of her real neighbor, I heard the buzz of an approaching Cape Air Cessna 402.

It was soothing like a distant rush of waves, or a breeze through the branches.

I felt right at home, but more so.

Chris leaving Miss Hall's Mack Pond cottage Saturday afternoon.

Facing west on Tennessee Street before heading to the airport.

A winter sun struggled through the clouds as we boarded our 8-seater Cape Air flight.

From our flight, we could spot all of Madaket below: Mister Rogers Crooked House, Millie's Hither Creek cottage, as well as both of my mother's rentals: West Wind (where Mister Rogers told me to "Spread the [deep and simple] message"), and Whatcha Dune (which was, apparently, recently moved about fifty feet off it foundation in an effort to prolong its eventual communion with the roaring Atlantic).

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