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Here and There

By Marianne R. Stanton The sun rose at 6:48 this morning and will set at 6:49 this evening. We now have 12 hours of daylight. For the next three months the days just keep getting longer and longer.

The first day of spring is Monday, another reason to celebrate. I am itching to get out in the garden, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one.

We are often reminded, however, that some of the island’s nastiest weather comes in the so-called spring, March and April. I remember several storms right around daffodil weekend where snow was stem-deep on daffodils that were in bloom. Moral of the story: don’t put your mittens and mufflers away yet.

If you appreciate Nantucket’s night skies and how easy it is to turn your gaze toward the heavens and view the planets, constellations and that great galaxy we are a part of called the Milky Way, you’re in luck. According to the “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” the darkest skies of the month are this week, following the third-quarter moon on Tuesday.

Those of us who grew up on the island take our dark skies for granted. But seasonal residents and visitors from the mainland, where light pollution is common, know what a special gift we have with an evening environment that’s pretty darn good for stargazing. Some people can also see the threats to our dark skies with all the new building going on, especially the construction of these huge houses and compounds with pools and spas that are lit up all night long, whether the properties are occupied or not.

One of those people cognizant of what we stand to lose is Gail Walker, who with her husband, the author John Lancaster, has been coming to the island every summer for almost 40 years. Off-season they live in Washington, D.C.

Walker is the sponsor of Article 76, which will be considered by voters at Town Meeting on Saturday, May 6 and addresses regulations for outdoor lighting. It is well worth our consideration. In the face of the rampant building and development, we need to be vigilant and aware of unintended consequences and work hard to keep what we can of what has always been special about Nantucket.

On a sad note, recently we said goodbye to our cat Felix. He was 19, and the last of our barn cats. Felix was what’s known as a tuxedo cat, all black with white whiskers, a triangle of white on his chest and four white socks. He was a constant presence in our lives, and his absence has left a huge void. Our house seems so, so empty without him.

Felix lived a good life, chasing mice, rabbits and prowling the pastures like the hunter he was. Once he tangled with a garter snake that eventually slithered away. While the horses have been gone from the pastures for many years now, Felix grew up roaming around the barn, only coming into the house to eat and sleep. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, and for the last week I kept expecting to see him trot around to the front door when I pulled into the driveway, or to see his face at the slider wanting to come in, or hear him purr as he slept on the back of the couch while we watched TV.

The loss of a pet can leave a palpable emptiness. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve had horses, cats, dogs and bunnies for pets. No matter the size of the animal, when they die they leave a hole in your world, which is not easily replaced.

Maybe someday we will get another cat, or more likely a dog. But one of the deterrents to getting another pet is the lack of boarding facilities on the island. If you like to travel, as we do, it’s a problem.

COVID-19 was the disrupter that caused Offshore Animal Hospital to shut down its boarding business. The lack of affordable housing on the island and the diffi culty businesses are having finding staff makes it highly unlikely they will offer boarding again.

In the meantime, we will get our pet fix by watching our kids’ dog Lou when they go on vacation. Lou comes to stay with us and infuses our house with the good feelings that having a pet in the home brings. She also makes us get off the couch and take her for walks, so we get daily exercise whether or not we feel like it.

Don Allen sent out an e-mail Tuesday afternoon letting recipients know that due to lack of staff, the inspection station on Polpis Road is closed until Monday, March 27. For people whose stickers expire at the end of March, that leaves only four days to get your car inspected.

Last year when I spoke with Gabriel Frasca and Kevin Burleson about their plans to turn the Straight Wharf Fish Store into a true clam shack, serving fried clams, lobster rolls and all the other stuff that you find in most seaside New England towns, I was very excited.

A casual clam shack, with no reservations, but tables on a first-come, first-served basis, has been the one thing lacking from our summer dining scene – that and Mexican food.

It’s nice that two guys who live here year-round with solid backgrounds in the island restaurant business are taking this project on. I hope the Select Board allows it to move forward.

Another sign that summer is approaching occurred last weekend when Something Natural opened up its Cliff Road kitchen for soups and sandwiches. After yoga at Westmoor on Wednesday I called in my favorite: avocado, chutney and cheddar with carrots, sprouts and cukes on pumpernickel, and brought it back to my desk while I did the layout on the front section of the paper. It was delicious.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who appreciates Matt Fee and company opening up their sandwich shop in March and keeping it open late in the year for us islanders.

Stop & Shop is making progress every day in its remodel. They have an off-island crew working overnight, after the store is closed, to install all the new refrigeration units. The produce aisle is undergoing the biggest transformation right now. It’ll be great when it’s done.

All you off-island readers should plan to add an extra 20 minutes to your shopping trip when you get back to the island. Almost everything has been relocated in the store. The Stop & Shop staff, however, are very helpful when you ask where something is.

If you are a fan of classic musicals, check out “Guys and Dolls” playing at the Nantucket High School Thursday through Sunday. There’s a preview of the play on page 5B of this week’s paper.

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