My Wondrously Magical Place

There are few places in this world that one can truly call magical. Places that seem to transcend space and time, existing entirely within themselves. I can with unshakable confidence categorize Nantucket Island as one of these places. No matter how many times I visit, it always feels like the first, with the island never failing to invoke the sense of being transported to another world. It's unique ambiance making all the stresses of my every day somehow seem nonexistent. As if the only thing in existence is the island and the ocean holding it in its embrace. The experience begins with the boat ride to the island, salty breeze forming impossible tangles in my hair and whipping against my skin with a damp stickiness. The first step off the boat onto a cobblestone street, filled with people from any place in the world you can dream of, is an unparalleled experience. Overwhelmed as the din of thousands of people buzz in and out of the surplus of shops lining narrow streets, each person moving as though they expect the world to part for them. The bustling streets of the town slowly give way to long scenic roads that span across the island. No longer surrounded by the compact buzzing atmosphere, spacious flat fields spread out on either side of the car. Lavish houses worth millions pepper the landscape, only to be abandoned the second the first leave turns orange. Sitting grey and vacant until the heat of summer returns next year. We drive further though, beyond these luxurious estates, turning onto a small road that leads to a quaint community of houses, home to the families that live year-round on the island. People who take the island in its entirety, truly able to call Nantucket their home. The house I stay in is tightly packed next to several others, sharing the same small backyard. Children gather to play in the snug space, whooping and running through the yard. Excited legs pumping and chubby hands grasping at each other in the throws of whatever game had caught their attention. The neighbor's dog yipping excitedly at their heels before losing interest and boisterously pushing through our screen door with urgent expectancy. Pawing around for the treats my sister often gave him. Away from the fancy poster of Nantucket that brought so many to vacation on the island, these small moments hold the most wonder for me. Down the street near our house lay the turtle docks. The rickety T shaped formation of old grey wood jutting out into the reed-filled water. Children crowd over the side of the dock in wide-eyed fascination as they lower raw chicken tied to pieces of long twine into the muddy water. A combination of sharp claws and teeth shred the meat in a flurry. Huge snapping turtles are pulled above water as they stubbornly cling to their catch, dangling on the string in full display. Delighted squeals bubble in the air as children gasp in exhilaration at the captivating animals. Leaning over the docks laughing and shouting as the fight for a half-eaten chicken bone intensifies. Attention rapidly shifting from one thing to another, desperately trying to follow the wild activity beneath the water's surface. Having my fill of excitement, I continue on. At the end of the street, a familiar sandy path opens up through thick bushes. Climbing the long winding beach path, up and down the dips in the sandy trail, through low hanging dappled trees, and into a clearing filled with golden grass mimicking the ocean's soft ebbing waves as the wind trickles through it. Suddenly the thin trail opens up into a dauntingly steep dune. Scorching sand scolds sandal-clad feet as I struggle to ascend the ever-shifting hill of fine pale sand. Finally, at the apex, I'm met with blue, the most magnificent and all-encompassing blue I've ever seen. The unapologetic sky distinguishable from the sparkling waters only by the infinitely present horizon. Days spent lounging in the sunbaked sand, surrounded by people of similar dispositions, content to simply exist. Eyes closed, the sun's molten warmth soaking into muscles. A gentle breeze rolling across reclined bodies and tickling exposed skin as we sink into the heated sand with a sigh. Breaths become deeper and slower still, being lulled into a slumber like trance by the gentle rhythmic whoosh of waves beating a soft lullaby. I find myself being pulled back to the island each summer to walk the same sandy path and enjoy the excitement of the turtle docks, wanting to experience all the things that make up Nantucket again and again. From the bustling rudeness of people accustomed to having the world at their feet to the earnest families whose very souls are a part of the island. Every single aspect of Nantucket supports this all-encompassing magnetic atmosphere. No matter how many times I experience it, that first step onto that warm cobblestone street brings me back to the very first time, the moment I became hopelessly enraptured.

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Michael Kelso

Author of Crime/Mystery novels, and short hor...

Schellsburg, United States