A Farewell to a Summer Like No Other | A note from Bess Clarke

     On April 25th I remember driving up Main Street at 12 pm with not one car to be seen. My eyes welled up with tears. It was, what would normally be, Daffodil Weekend, but this day felt apocalyptic. Yet, I was so proud of our little island. Our community had taken the shelter in place seriously and as a result we managed to keep our COVID positive results below 1%. But what would this summer look like? Would people continue to “hide” from the coronavirus, as my six-year-old would say? Or would they take refuge 30 miles out to sea? On June 8th, we found out. We had configured the shop to allow a one-way traffic pattern. My friend built a plexiglass divider for the front counter and we had our hand sanitizing stations positioned throughout the shop. We were ready. As we unlocked our front door for the first time in ten weeks, the familiar chime of the bell sounded. People peered through the window with masks as we encouragingly waved them into the store. With muffled greetings from behind our masks, brows unfurled and relief set in as we all realized that we could do this. We commiserated with customers on our quarantine stories. Many seasonal residents had returned early, leaving their cities behind for the open spaces of the island. Some had recovered from COVID and shared what it was like. And then we got back to business.

     Customers have been eager to refresh their homes after these few months spent inside, replacing old throw pillows, hanging new artwork and purchasing new furniture. While shopping at first seemed trivial, it represented a familiar routine that we all needed. It was a respite from an intense few months and the looming “new normal”.

     This summer has been a bit slower than in years past, with fewer people traveling from abroad and others staying closer to home, but we are grateful for those who have returned to the island and supported us. In many ways the pandemic has been awakening, teaching us how dramatically things can change from one day to the next. Because of this, I remain thankful for every day that I may gaze upon Main Street and watch the cars hobble up the cobblestones and see people weave in and out of the shops- albeit social distanced and mask wearing. And I'm thankful to live in a place where the outdoor spaces allowed us to safely enjoy summer the best we could. Thanks to our customers and the island’s resilience, the “new normal” feels a little more manageable.

-Bess Clarke