Early morning rain
It was almost dark tonight when Autumn started barking her most excited “someone is here, someone is here!” bark. I saw headlights, then the shape of a big black box turning into the barn-less barnyard — not unlike the treeless Orchard or the pig-less Pig Lot — and thought impossibly her dog food ordered late Monday was arriving as promised on Wednesday.
She is a smart dog but she can’t be that smart, but I switched on the light and there it was, the big white box on wheels filled with goods and the exceedingly nice young driver who easily carried the two cartons I’d have had to
drag one at a time past the clutter of my entry. I imagine Autumn harbored fantasies of driving off with him but she came back into the house and the certainty of a good food supply.
I live out in the middle of nowhere but my house is not difficult to find, not like some place on a heavily-vegetated spur of an un-named road on a part of the island which shall remain unnamed. I thought of today’s overheard
conversation, or overheard snippet, something about someone saying the name of a road no one could remember.
Often I just go out and ask if I can help, although more and more the destination is a newly named bed and breakfast or whole-house rental or, worst, a 123 Spring Street where the best I can do is explain the numbers are not really street numbers and can fall out of and back into sequence. It was the end of August, a long, hot August following a long, hot July and not only in my imaginings but truly I learned in the news this evening. I did not go out because I was afraid I’d just say something unhelpful along the lines of “they probably told you the wrong thing, anyway, street names don’t always make sense out here!”
A few years ago someone asked if I knew where the Sheffield House was. Score! Then they talked of not having been there in years but recalling it up the hill from the landing. Double Score. It was white. No, it was dark green
when I was little and the sidewalk in front of it had a rail painted the same color. They said again it had been the 50s and it hit me that the landing was the New Harbor Dock as Payne’s used to be called, the hill only that first one to the public safety complex today.
It was, we determined, as I recalled names and, especially, the name of a cat, a Sheffield House down the Neck, overlooking Sachem Pond, which I then had to tell them had burned years ago. It was okay, they were just happy to find someone who knew the person they remembered visiting.
This year has seemed more than others to be one of “Where’s Water Street?” It is not an uncommon question but the only response is “here, but what are you looking for?” a preemptive strike against the inevitable “123 Water.” (which I should note is not 123, but when I typed XXX I was afraid it would not convey the notion of a number, any number).
Yesterday the afternoon sky was the sky of a beautifully late summer day. Unfortunately, the air lying above the land beneath it was hot and humid, hardly cut by the breeze from the ocean. It had not felt bad at all until I went to town around two-thirty, always a mistake going to town where it has been consistently hot and, plainly put, yucky, much of the past two months.
So many days I have left the green haven of the Neck, made my cautious way along the real neck of land while a gentle cooling breeze has wafted off the blue salt pond on the west, past the pavilion with its lots filling, out along what I and a 1953 State of Rhode Island map in the Town Hall vault call the “Beach Road” (I’m not landing that road name tangent, just making little touchdowns), then hit Bridge Gate Square and feel like it’s suddenly Summer in the City.
Yesterday I was gone less than two hours and returned not to cool, but that humid heat. Even out in the pasture it was flat-out hot, the lowering sun uncomfortable to the point I cut short my visit to the pretty horses, not that they noticed, it was dinner time and priorities are priorities.
It was that sky, filled with towering white clouds, that made it worse, the sky of a less-humid late summer day. They were even more dramatic in town as evening approached but it never quite cooled, the night was among the
warmer ones of the season, although the temperature was the same it seems always to be when I go to bed. It will be different tonight, but it will technically be September.
The rain came in the early morning I’ve been told; when I awake to summer rain falling straight from the sky, not pounding sideways, I never know when it started. It was the summer rain the land wanted, soft, settling, not a
washout downpour. Closing windows didn’t seem necessary and I went back to sleep.
It did not last as long as I had expected and by the time I went to town it was almost forgotten. There were no puddles in my road, no dark splotches on Mansion, no water in the little depressions along the Neck Road, all was sunny and bright. It was only from Beach Avenue south there was any evidence of the early morning rain.
Later, I saw on the evening news the difference in rainfall across the state, and thought of people I talked to during the day, all seeming to have experienced more rain than I, all of them staying somewhere not the Neck. I know the weather line has to be somewhere, that it so often crosses Block Island never ceases to amaze me.