Mansion Road is not a two-lane highway...

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 3:37am

...just saying. Not that anyone who thinks it is a two-lane road reads this column. But maybe this will catch the eye of those who do not — although I think, in truth, the culprits do not pick up the Block Island Times unless it is the give-a-way summer monthly.

Granted, there are plenty of places along the road itself where two cars can pass each other, and where there are not, there are spots with adequate room to pull over and let someone else go by. The problem is this business of reaching the head of the road, pausing before turning onto the pavement and having someone pull in while I am waiting for a lull in traffic, twice more since I last complained in this space — and despite my efforts to stay in the middle of the road, instead of, against all natural instinct, hovering toward the right.

I hope none of them got a parking space at the beach.

The heat seems to have broken. A cool, almost damp breeze blows through the window to the degree I get up and close it, only to find myself in quickly warming humidity within minutes. The windows will stay up until it rains.

I could check the radar but I am angry at the internet today, or more accurately, I am miffed at Verizon. Earlier, wasting time on news stories that alternately inflame and disgust me, I spotted an article about internet speeds across the country and which states have faster or slower service.

Impossibly, Rhode Island is listed as fastest — not among the fastest, but THE fastest. It does makes sense, Rhode Island being so tiny. Things can either go completely right or completely wrong in an area that would be just a county  — or a ranch — in a larger state.

It makes sense unless one lives on Block Island, and until one remembers we are not quite part of Rhode Island. It is borne out in winter weather forecasts that speak of “coastal areas” and “the Cape and the islands” as though that little blip of land below the southern shore is a fly on the screen, or perhaps some drifted away bit of Connecticut or more likely, Long Island. We exist only when there is an extraordinarily slow news day in the rest of the state.

We cannot be in the internet survey mix that puts Rhode Island on top. I when to the site that checks internet speed and found myself, as usual, barely scraping by with a grade of F-. There is a line for the global average, and there is me, so far down it doesn’t look to be a part of the same chart.  Like Block Island on the area station weather maps.

Oh, and what’s this? An ad, a solicitation, from Verizon, for a new money saving bundle. I have been down this road before but I dutifully, hopefully, fill in the little boxes, long having given up on the street address thing, using the fire number that is a very important part of the local lexicon and utterly meaningless elsewhere, but they want a number so they get a number.

The services advertised are, of course, not available in my area. They would not work if they were, but it is still annoying, worsened by the “we can’t provide what we advertise but for just a little more money you can get almost but not quite two-thirds of the same service with restrictions” qualifier.

I hate Verizon until my brother calls from Michigan. He suffered a severe head injury in early June and is mending slowly, but he is so much better than he was, today watching CNN and ready to talk about the government and some convoluted explanations about oil prices. Were he someone else, his words might make me worry about the clarity of his thought process, but this is the way he has talked for decades; it is good, nearly two months after a very bad fall, to hear him coming back.

Later, in town, standing overlooking the harbor at the moment the big boat swings around, its lights gently reflected in the water, I remembered his reminding me that I live in a beautiful place. The sun had set but it was not dark, just that still twilight that makes bearable the nagging loss inherent in the end of every summer day.

A few minutes earlier the high-speed had left the harbor in a great cloud of black smoke that hung in the air, lingering, waiting for the traditional boat to pass through it. I had turned away, then by chance looked out again and knew I’d never been in that stop at that time with that vessel moving across the water, in that perfect before-dark time when the lights have come on, gold on pale blue that will too soon be black.

People ask where to go to see the sunset, never expecting a response which is to them probably as convoluted as my brother’s oil pricings are to me. That the sun does not set in the same place the year round seems a mystery that should not be. It happens everywhere, in the city the play of light on buildings differs from March to June. They want a flaming sky, not this sweet serenity of boats moving through calm water.

Night does comes, the sky does turn dark and by the time I head home there are already signs of fires on the long east beach. I see them most nights from the road, patches of flickering gold in the black — part of the score of summer written in light, from houses that will too soon sit dark and empty but are now bright with life, from the masts of the boats filling the Great Salt Pond, creating their own galaxy, even from the reflective strips of the shoes of the bikers in the Neck Road.