After shows, many of y’all ask where we from. Normally, we shake our heads and reply, “New England.” That’s rarely enough, as most of you are either a) from New England, b) have been to the place, or c) have family and friends here. Invariably follows, “Where in New England?” or..”Oh, like Boston?” And then we reply, “Well, we practice in Providence, RI, except when we don’t. And we do a lot of mixing, mastering and performing in Portland, ME, and P.Nice hails from Cambridge originally, but… Oh yeah, Daddy Wrall and I live on Nantucket.”
“Wait, Nantucket? Like Wings? I didn’t know people actually live there…”
“Yeah, it’s a real place. With grocery stores and seasons and schools.”
“Not special schools…Normal schools?”..
“Yeah, do you a have prob…”
Okay, it usually doesn’t get that out of hand. More likely, people say, “Nantucket? Never heard of it…” So I thought I’d give you a little glimpse into what makes this place so ridiculous. And great.
But still ridiculous…
Every April, one of the last Saturdays of the month is reserved for..a special event that serves as the highlight of “Daffodil Weekend,” or as us working-types often refer to it as, “Daffy.” I assume it’s a commercial holiday intended to get folks to Nantucket with loosened purse strings, but it does have merits. Now, this Saturday is reserved for a noontime parade through Main Street: a caravan of antique cars dressed in Daffodil wreaths and yellow ribbons. People keep cars from the sixties, fifties, forties, thirties and twenties all year ‘round, only to polish them, decorate them, and drive them once for this special event.
Normally they are filled beyond capacity with waving kids and sun-burned weekenders. Now, Main Street is not a quiet street by Nantucket standards, but on normal days, no one honks their horn. Very occasionally, a quick beep might sound as a way of saying hello, or at a busy intersection if an accident is barely avoided, but on Main Street, the cars travel at 10 miles an hour and most of the noise comes from mufflers and chatter.
On this fine Saturday, though, the horns are blaring. You can hear them for blocks and they don’t sound like the horns of today. Many of them are much higher pitched or say “ah-oooo-gah!”..and some play old tunes. I think I heard “Polkadots and Moonbeams,” but I couldn’t say for sure.
Now to be clear, a few thousand people line the streets for the passing motorcade. (Fewer than at the Christmas Eve lottery, but that’s another story…) They dress in their best yellow sweaters, and wave and laugh as they celebrate spring. Children hold daffodils in their fists and point and squeal at people hanging off the sides of old Fords and sitting across the back of their Oldsmobile convertibles. It hasn’t changed much since I was my sister’s age (6), excepting perhaps the excessive video-cameraing. One man captured the car’s eye view, while hanging on the outside of his Model whatever, another woman scared the crowd while hanging out of the driver’s side with some camcorder or another.”Oh, it’s a British style, with the driver on the right!”..(That was the..sound of recognition as it snaked through the crowd.)….
After a double loop through Main Street, the cars head down our sole state highway (also known as Milestone Road) to have a picnic on the eastern edge of the island, blankets spread under the enormous trees, all older than the oldest picnicker.
It’s a contrived event, an attempt to recreate the community of old, buy paying homage to our oldest man-made things and our last remaining natural ones, but it works pretty well. I hadn’t been in years and found myself smiling uncontrollably after just a few moments in the crowd. Despite my twenty-first century cynicism, I like things like this, even when they..can’t be..spontaneous. So happy Daffy Weekend folks! Take a minute to stop and smell the daffodils…