There are worse places to get snowed in than on Nantucket island in the wild Atlantic Ocean.

We traveled there recently with friends to visit friends, and spent a lovely few days. We boarded the crowded ferry in Hyannis, arriving on the island an hour and 10 minutes later. Our friends picked us up at the dock and we spent a fine evening, talking and eating, and some of us watching the Super Bowl.

Our plan was to head downtown the next day, Monday, stroll the cobblestone streets, shop, eat and enjoy the scenery.

Yet the forecast said it would snow 8 inches and the wind would be 65 mph.

We concluded there’d be no sightseeing Monday.

Instead, we’d stay home, decorate for the annual Mardi Gras party Tuesday, read and just spend time together.

Each year for the last few, we’ve been privileged to receive an invitation to the party, which always is a lot of fun, with interesting people and excellent “N’Orleans” cuisine.

Our hosts do it up in style, complete with sparkly gold, black and red masks, some of which are used for decorating the house, and others for guests to wear. There’s a plethora of multi-colored beads hung by the front door for guests to don as they enter, specialty drinks, luscious crab cake hors d’oeuvres and, of course, the King cake.

What’s fun about the cake, a dense sort of cinnamon coffee roll drizzled with glaze, is that there’s a tiny plastic baby baked into it and the guest fortunate enough to get the baby in his slice must bring the cake to next year’s party.

There is always lots of anticipation and laughter accompanying the serving and consuming of the cake as we gingerly, and with trepidation, savor each morsel.

This year, our hostess got the baby, much to our surprise and to her delight. She loves throwing the annual bash, so supplying the cake will be an added perk for next year.

Typically, we decorate on Monday night, the evening before the party, but being snowed in and with nowhere to go for the day, we had more time to plot, plan and get the decor just right. There were masks and feathers to be tacked over doorways, sparkling faux branches to be placed in vases, baubles to be hung and candles to be arranged. Our hostess created a large Mardi Gras wreath, wrapped in colorful beads, with masks placed in fanlike arrangements at 4 and 8 o’clock. A work of art!

As she and her sister worked their artistic magic, I pitched in here and there, but also took the opportunity to sink into a large overstuffed chair in the living room, crack my book and read.

As the snow fell in thick gobs, the house shuddered, tree limbs rocked and birds flitted to and fro, we worked, read, cooked, watched the football game and spent a good old-fashioned snow day making progress on all fronts, yet with the added luxury of facing no stress, no rush, no pressure.

The day was long and restful. I was reminded of the winter Saturdays of my youth, when we sat on the furnace off the living room, reading books and warming our toes as the snow swirled outside, wind shook the house and cold air crept through its every crack and crevice.

Those were the good old days, I thought, as I sat leisurely in that living room on modern-day Nantucket, where all the shops and restaurants were closed, ferry and plane rides to the mainland canceled and all we had for entertainment was what we created.

In the old days, there were no cellphones, Internet, tablets or giant TV screens with a million channels; no Skype, Twitter or Facebook.

As we read our books in silence all those years ago, the sounds and aromas emanating from my mother’s kitchen as she prepared supper, the faint laughter from a faraway room and the stomp of my father’s boots as he came in from shoveling were stimulation enough for our young, imaginative brains.

And, of course, that sleek swish! as we turned the pages, with anticipation.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 28 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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