Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Sometimes sunny, mainly overcast day, yesterday in New York. Temps in the low 80s, some humidity and then about 7 PM, the rain came, intermittently at first and then in torrents and then over. Cooled us down to the low 70s by mid-evening. Who could ask for anything more?
Tomorrow is August. August has always been a special month for me. It’s anticipating but with reserve. You’re seriously trying to relax now, get into that “relax; nothing matters,” and the warmth is nice, and the flowers out there are beautiful. Before September arrives with the new year beginning to bud.
I was thinking as I wrote those last sentences, about our weekend in Nantucket, Part II. I’ve lived in the city for the past 25 years. Before that I lived in California which was an indoor/outdoor life. And there were flowers everywhere. Now living in New York, I have the luxury of a terrace on which in summertime I place copious impatiens occupying most of it. There is a pathway for me to walk to the edge, but otherwise it’s a mass of green, reds and whites. I get off on just looking at it, and of course giving it spritzes as soon as the hot sun has moved on.
That may explain the almost visceral attraction that Nantucket holds for me. It’s civilized and there is nature’s beauty all around. The past is recognized and holding its true value. Nature’s beauty is comforting, and we all need it. All of us. A lot of it.
Part II. My actual birthday was this past Thursday, but my hostess said the dinner she planned to give had to be on a Friday for a variety of reasons including her own social schedule and everyone else’s. Fine; at my age, I don’t need a reminder dinner anyway; which is not to say I don’t like sitting down at dinner with friends and everyone is generous and at their best behavior because it’s a “special” day for someone.
For this dinner, she seated a table for fourteen and hired Marcus Gleadow-Ware, an Englishman (from Michelin-starred Aureole), who is now the Executive Chef at Graydon House restaurant and bar. The menu there is simple with a progressive take on the American classics that the people of Nantucket have embraced for centuries.
Again like the night before with the Mexican dinner, maybe the highlight of the evening was the guests congregating around the open kitchen while Marcus and his two assistants were preparing the menu, beginning with the hors d’oeuvres. Again, like the flowers abounding about, the preparation was colorful as you can see. And it became a part of the party as we guests began to congregate in the area where an occasional nibble was passed our way. At one point there was a series of Scotch Smoked salmon served on a spoon topped with the best caviar. JH’s photos tell you the story better than I can.
Saturday, Coco and Arie Kopelman who were at the birthday dinner the night before, invited me over to see their house which is a masterpiece of renovation. Arie and Coco have been coming to Nantucket for many years. It could be that Arie, who hails originally from Boston, has been coming here all his life.
The house, from the road looks like many others in the village. Two story clapboard, built in the 18th century and even before. It looks beautifully maintained, as do most of them all over town. The facades are simple as are the floor plans — simple and utilitarian. They were built at a time when the only heat in winter was from the fireplaces, and much of what we know as plumbing — like electricity — didn’t exist.
The Kopelmans’ house was built in 1790 at the top of Main Street when there was nothing surrounding it but open land. Now it is the commercial section of the town. At the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century, the house was lifted and moved a mile or two up a road to a site overlooking a shoreline. That was in 1903.
Arie and Coco acquired it about 1991. They kept it intact as is required of these houses. The facades and much of the interiors cannot be altered. I don’t know the laws there. However, as the house had originally had an addition in the back – that was completely derelict and uninhabitable – they re-added by rebuilding.
They’ve kept not only the original floorboards and doors and beams but made it into a spacious, comfortable, welcoming environment, populated by pieces of art and antiques from the house’s early history. It’s a large family house, made to accommodate the adults as well as the smallest children (there were granddaughters out by the roadway with their father, selling lemonade). The addition was built in a excavated hillside space that is four stories total. And there is an elevator to accommodate the older folk who may be moving from the bottom floor to a bedroom at the top.
It’s like the hydrangeas that populate this island: beautiful. And as a house: practical, sensible, spacious with lots of nooks and crannies. Very New England.
Saturday night Joy invited us to join her at the ballet for the 11th annual Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival. It was an evening of spectacular dance performed by stars from the New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. This was New York City Ballet principal dancer Tyler Angle’s sixth season as artistic director of the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival. For the 11th year and running, the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival continues to bring the best of ballet – dancers, musicians and choreographers – to the island for cutting edge performances in an intimate, but ample venue. The evening benefited the Nantucket Atheneum.
This year’s performance featured a world premiere by rising star choreographer Austin Goodwin, as well as a mix of classical and contemporary ballet.
There were several hundred attending at the high school auditorium which has a beautiful stage that is big enough to accommodate a dance company.
The program had ten separate pieces — single, duo, corps de ballet — of different eras. They were brief in minutes but full and effective in performance. The program lasted a little more than an hour. I’m not a balletomane but living in New York and making the NYSD both JH and I (and particularly JH and his wife Danielle) get to see it often. What these men and woman can with their work is beautiful, astounding and amazing in what it all conveys to the spectator.
It was a wonderful evening which was followed by a buffet and cocktail reception at the Great Harbor Yacht Club. Many members of the dance companies cane along once out of costume. What is interesting to see is how young (and not very tall) they are off-stage where they command our interest with their stature and wisdom in their dance performances.
Click here for Part I of our visit to Nantucket.