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Harborside Nantucket

The phrase “chivalry is dead” bothers me. It always has. Chivalry is not dead. Perhaps there are simply people living within various “norms” of etiquette. Here on Nantucket, chivalry is alive and well, and I can prove it. Men open doors for women. They offer to carry heavy items and suggest that women have the right of away when they cross paths. Men often delight in buying a lady a drink with the simple goal of sharing some conversation. Frankly, they do this in New York too. (Give credit where credit is due, right)? Sure I’ve met the occasional jerk on the island, or shall we say, people experiencing a lapse in well considered behavior, but that’s not who I’m talking about. From my vantage point, chivalry is more common than not. For the prime example of chivalry here on Nantucket, look to the sea.

There is this one couple that comes to the beach most evenings around dusk to walk their tiny, cream colored, very spirited, shaggy dog. The dog runs in and out of the water and sometimes swims after a ball with so much joy that I can’t help but laugh to myself in the distance. From what I can tell, once the dog is sufficiently exercised and most of his adorable, unfettered energy expended, (and of course his bladder relieved – these people are clearly no fools), the man hikes up his shirt and wades out into the water. He unties a beautiful, elegant, timeless wooden rowboat from the buoy where it has been waiting patiently and pulls it ashore. The woman, picnic bag safely in hand, gets in with a smile. The gentlemen then lifts the knowing dog onto the boat and with two swift pushes, returns the vessel to the freedom of the water. Hoisting himself aboard, he rows them into the beautiful and often calm water just in time for sunset.

I realize that I do not know these people or their story. I am confident that just like everyone else, they’ve had their fair share of defeats and hopefully, some really big wins! Where I am from this report would be considered an idyllic joke. Perhaps it would be laughed at a bit and called an unrealistic fairytale. But it’s not. It’s just a moment in life and I have seen it repeated daily. I am very aware that important industry happens here on the water and that there are folks who make their living on or are feeding their families from the sea. I realize that there are very successful women who make their living on the water too. I am not discounting them. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be feeling a wave of ultra-conservative feminism come on in a way that rebukes this very blog entry. But as the sun sets on another beautiful warm breezy Nantucket day, I quite like the idea of chivalry being alive on this island. And perhaps even more, I find myself breathing a little bit lighter watching it float out to sea.