25 July 2017

Rudolph Day, July 2017

"Rudolph Day" is a way of keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year long. You can read a Christmas book, work on a Christmas craft project, listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie.

And now summer in all its sunshine, and, unfortunately, all its heat, is truly upon us. Even as a child I wasn't a summer fan, and it's when I most miss living near the ocean, although I got tired of "the beach thing" very early in my life. The noisy radios, the cigarette butts, the obnoxious crowds, the blazing sun, the creepy jellyfish all combined to make sunbathing at the beach an unpleasant activity (and this didn't count scrubbing sand off and cleaning the tub when you got home). I much preferred walking along a sea wall on a summer day, and then retreating to the nearest Del's Lemonade truck for a cool drink.

Later I became a devotèe of the seashore in winter. The crowds were gone, the heat was gone, it was the same beautiful sea, the same beautiful scenery in the distance, the same tangy smell of brine and seaweed and fish and low tide, the same beautiful sunset spreading across the western sky, the dormant plants and grass and the swell of the waves making a picturesque and natural backdrop to quiet thoughts and communion with nature rather than frustration with mankind.

After I left home I would always go back for Christmas, and it became our custom to go out to Newport on Christmas Eve. We would walk some at the Brick Walk Marketplace until the stores began to close, have lunch, and then spend a few hours at Brenton Point, walking on the sea wall, investigating the crumbling stables that once belonged to the imposing Budlong home that once graced the point, climbing the old water tower in the rear. One Christmas Eve it was so cold we didn't stay long; even the seagulls didn't want to go into the water and the sea foam was freezing on the edge of the beach, but we saw a spectacular sunset before heading home.

A Nantucket Christmas, Leslie Linsley, photographs by Jeffrey Allen
This was such a summer choice!

So you have to know that I have been wanting this beautiful book since it was published, but waited thirteen long years to find it at an affordable price. Not that the price wasn't justified! Two hundred photographs of Nantucket homes, scenes, and decorations are lavishly spread through this solid coffee-table book, and, fortuitously, it snowed the day they were doing the photos, which made the few outdoor shots and shots through windows more festive.

I'll admit that the decorations in some of the "swank" homes on the island weren't of much interest; they didn't look any different from the stagy, stiff, and soulless magazine spreads in the Christmas magazines. One can tell these are the work of designers, not of families decorating with love and creativity. Of more interest were the simple, lovely displays, some just using greens and berries and a little bit of burlap or ribbon, in old cottages, converted fishing shacks, and historical buildings, dotted with the mementos of the sea: glass floats, oars, shells, starfish, scrimshaw, and the exquisite actual and reproduction sailor's Valentines. Especially loved the Christmas trees decorated with vintage ornaments and bead garlands in homes with classic woodwork and wallpaper, bringing back memories of Christmas trees in the old homes owned by my relatives when I was a little girl.

If there's any regrets, it's that there aren't more outdoor shots.

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