So last time, I had just gotten us to our AirB&B in the charming town/peninsula/island of Nahant. (You’ll recall that I am writing...endlessly...about our trip to New England.)
Anyway, we arrived at the house on a hill, overlooking the city. We stared down in amazement at the town itself and out over the turbulence of the sky. We had just seen a gorgeous rainbow that arced in from above, huge and seemingly solid as stained glass, until it lost itself in the gloom of the earth and the sea.
We stood staring with the proverbial open mouths and looks of stunned incredulity that you see on the faces of overwhelmed tourists everywhere. Finally, Martha said “Wow,” and I said, “Whoa,” and we stood there for a bit longer.
Finally, the bow dimmed a bit, we pulled ourselves together, and we made our way into the little apartment that was the B&B. It was a pleasant place, very new and modern, and decorated in a sort of sleek European or perhaps Scandinavian style. There was a large bed, a small kitchen, and bath.
About the photos: Two today. The first is a view of the sky from the deck in front of our AirB&B. This was just about at sunset.
A moment later, one of our hosts appeared. He was a tall, pleasant fellow...a little older than us...but friendly and helpful. He had a slight accent and Martha and I amused ourselves by wondering where he was from, originally. We went back and forth between Northwest and Central Europe--the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, one of the Baltic countries? We never figured it out, and it would have been too easy just to ask. Would have spoiled the game, you see.
Anyway, he was there to show us how the appliances worked. Some of these required a bit more training than you might think. The television, particularly. And there were things we needed to know to get on the Wifi...
We ended up speaking to him several times while we were there. We would encounter one another while we were going out or he was coming in, and we’d spend a few moments in conversation. He and his wife lived in the larger house upstairs. He was retired at the moment. (I never knew what he did. I got the feeling that he’d been either a business professional or maybe an academic.) His wife, though, was still working. I got the impression that she was some sort of attorney in Boston. We never met her.
They had lived there, though, for a few years. They’d visited the island and fallen in love with it, and so built this house on the hill. Someday they’d move away. But not now. Not soon.
We talked about the town itself. He gave us some insights from the perspective of someone who is not a native but who has lived there for several years and so knew much about the place.
There were two populations, he said. The first was the long-timers--the people who had been there all their lives, and whose parents...grandparents...maybe great-grandparents...had been as well. Probably, some of these people had ancestors among the men and women who had decried the amusement parks and called for temperance.
The second were the new-comers--people, like himself, who had come in the last few years, building new houses, bringing (in some cases) quite a lot of money. Among these new-comers were at least some celebrities--film stars, hedge fund managers, perhaps a billionaire or two.
“And the only thing they’ve got in common,” he said, meaning the old-timers and the new, “is they don’t like outsiders.”
The Old-Timers, of course, just didn’t like them period. People from, say, Boston, were alien and sometimes hostile, and they created great jostling crowds on the beaches in summer, and sometimes they brought crime...and, frankly, they were just different, and while different (even exotic) is all well and good in other places like, oh, say, Harvard Square, it isn’t what you want to find in your living room at midnight...or on the private island you’ve inhabited your whole life.
And the Celebs and Billionaires...well, they felt something similar. The crowds, the tourists, the prying journalists, the vulgar mob, the intrusive fans who recognized them too quickly, or, worse, the insensitive ones who didn’t recognize them at all...all of these were just a bit too much, thank you very much.
Ergo, the two groups, otherwise opposites and natural enemies in every way, found common ground and common cause...and worked together productively...to protect “their” island from external threats.
Was it true? Was what he said the actual case? Well, I honestly didn’t know then and don’t know now. I’m one of the outsiders, a member of the vulgar mob, so I don’t have the inside information.
Yet, it does sound familiar...like what I’ve seen in many places. And normally, I’m not fond of it...
But...if it works...if it gives people who would have otherwise nothing in common...the unity required to work productively together...if it saves Nahant, which is a small and fragile place, from over-development or too rapid development and from pollution, and congestion, and...and from the homogenization and strain and urban sprawl which is far too often the cost of growth...
Who is to say it is so bad?
More to come.
The second, as per norm, has nothing to do with the story. It is of Martha and our daughter-in-law Emily at David’s graduation from UVA in 2015. Just like the picture.
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