Three Days Later

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 5:47am
Category: 

The weekend brought the weather for which we hope, the April Sunday afternoon of our imaginings and somewhat distorted memories. I have not gone to the beach so much this year as others and not so often north around and beyond Jerry’s Point; the tide has been high, the rocks uncovered, or both. But, a sweet black dog visiting from the West Side really, really, really wanted to go and so we went.

The beach is sandy all the way past the remains of Pots and Kettles, once so prominent a 1909 guidebook listed it in places of interest “ . . . the name given to a spot on the shore south of Clay Head where strange formations of clay and minerals, geodes and peculiar stones are found.”

There were great chunks, still, when I was little, in photos as well as my memory, pieces as large as construction equipment, backhoes or very big trucks, nearly filling the space between the cliff and the water at high tide. Now, there are but a few pieces left, nothing to catch the eye from any distance, nothing that would merit a titled line in a guidebook. They once seemed so mysterious, out of place on the sand below the clay-streaked bluff face, something dropped from the heavens we liked to pretend, although our parents said that was nonsense.

Now, a bit to the north, another outcropping is slowly emerging, as falling gravel runs over and around it. It is not as dramatic, as high or as irregular, as filled with Peculiar Stones, but it is, basically, the same stuff.

I wonder, sometimes, how much of Pots and Kettles remains on Block Island, how many people have chunks of it in their houses, like the piece that sits on the top on my old upright piano. It is a prize, with a partly sealed cavity in which sits a stone-shaped bit of fused minerals. There is enough room that it can rattle, the best my mother always said.

It has been years since I have done much more than move it around in rare dustings and now I have it on my table thinking it needs to be left out in the rain. I pick it up and realize a fine gray powder, finer than sand, coarser than clay dust, had been loosened by my handling, a tiny amount but a surprise. It has been here since I was quite small, in fact, I do not remember it ever not being in the house, one of my mother’s treasurers, that bit of Pots and Kettles with the rattle.

Mid-April and the ponds should be high. The drain from the pond behind my house, a long ago peat bog, once ran evenly to the shore. Over the years the drift has piled up, sand has swept in, vegetation has filled what used to be an open pool and now the water simply goes where it can, often covering a branch of the Clay Head Trail access, turning another sodden. The water follows differing routes then cuts through the sand on the beach, a course that can be inches deep, a miniature river canyon.

This April there has been so little rain there is barely a stream and that so anemic a child’s dam of twigs has halted its passage to the sea. Another season such a barrier would be broken almost as soon as it was put in place, now a shallow puddle forms, waiting for a tide to rise and collect it.

Like so many places that used to be clear, the pool I remember is now a bed of phragmites, down near the blast of the east wind quite decapitated with hardly a hint of a plume left from last season. New, measurable, growth is showing and I think of the year a stand of this same plant along Ocean Avenue burned, leaving a lot clean and empty. It took all of one growing season for it to return.

That afternoon there was a red jacket on sand in the little cove, a “harbor” on the old maps and in the old deeds. It was a reminder that I had left my own coat on a post at the entrance to the beach, hanging on one of the square pieces of lumber from which a single heavy cord is strung. There were shoes on the shore as well, these things we leave in April — and in summer as well, as least early in the day — knowing they will be there when we return.

The next day it was hot in Boston and the newspapers culled the worse, one headlining a dire Patriots’ Day for sports in New England, citing a Red Sox loss, a Marathon lessened by heat and — classically, typically — a game the Bruins had not yet but probably would lose.

It is only April, the Red Sox and the Yankees fans are always panicking in April. That the Marathon was completed at all, the text begrudgingly acknowledged, was quite an accomplishment, but the time, it noted, was down, the second worst in twenty-five years. That’s the stuff of New England sports coverage, the second worst merits note.

And the Bruins may or may not have lost that game, the concept of this never-ending hockey season overlapping football training in April is just unnatural.

We were once part of the Bay Colony, seized territory for twenty-five years, a settled outpost for another three before being swept into the colony of Rhode Island by an act of the British crown. It makes more sense, certainly, that Block Island be attached to Rhode Island, it is simply a geographic practicality. But, every April, a part of me feels we are missing something not formally acknowledging that day the farmers held the bridge and fired the shot heard round the world.

Monday evening, headed home just before seven, I absently noticed the shad in bloom, a stray, sparse bush in the bayberry by the beach. The earth had been greened by a few showers, the light was that long light of spring, the air was warm, and it was not until I had traveled a mile or so north that it hit me: it was Patriots’ Day (observed) and the shad was coming to flower. Three days later, on April 19, the true anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, it will be in full array, glorious springtime on Block Island.

 

T

he weekend brought the weather for which we hope, the April Sunday afternoon of our imaginings and somewhat distorted memories. I have not gone to the beach so much this year as others and not so often north around and beyond Jerry’s Point; the tide has been high, the rocks uncovered, or both. But, a sweet black dog visiting from the West Side really, really, really wanted to go and so we went.

The beach is sandy all the way past the remains of Pots and Kettles, once so prominent a 1909 guidebook listed it in places of interest “ . . . the name given to a spot on the shore south of Clay Head where strange formations of clay and minerals, geodes and peculiar stones are found.”

There were great chunks, still, when I was little, in photos as well as my memory, pieces as large as construction equipment, backhoes or very big trucks, nearly filling the space between the cliff and the water at high tide. Now, there are but a few pieces left, nothing to catch the eye from any distance, nothing that would merit a titled line in a guidebook. They once seemed so mysterious, out of place on the sand below the clay-streaked bluff face, something dropped from the heavens we liked to pretend, although our parents said that was nonsense.

Now, a bit to the north, another outcropping is slowly emerging, as falling gravel runs over and around it. It is not as dramatic, as high or as irregular, as filled with Peculiar Stones, but it is, basically, the same stuff.

I wonder, sometimes, how much of Pots and Kettles remains on Block Island, how many people have chunks of it in their houses, like the piece that sits on the top on my old upright piano. It is a prize, with a partly sealed cavity in which sits a stone-shaped bit of fused minerals. There is enough room that it can rattle, the best my mother always said.

It has been years since I have done much more than move it around in rare dustings and now I have it on my table thinking it needs to be left out in the rain. I pick it up and realize a fine gray powder, finer than sand, coarser than clay dust, had been loosened by my handling, a tiny amount but a surprise. It has been here since I was quite small, in fact, I do not remember it ever not being in the house, one of my mother’s treasurers, that bit of Pots and Kettles with the rattle.

Mid-April and the ponds should be high. The drain from the pond behind my house, a long ago peat bog, once ran evenly to the shore. Over the years the drift has piled up, sand has swept in, vegetation has filled what used to be an open pool and now the water simply goes where it can, often covering a branch of the Clay Head Trail access, turning another sodden. The water follows differing routes then cuts through the sand on the beach, a course that can be inches deep, a miniature river canyon.

This April there has been so little rain there is barely a stream and that so anemic a child’s dam of twigs has halted its passage to the sea. Another season such a barrier would be broken almost as soon as it was put in place, now a shallow puddle forms, waiting for a tide to rise and collect it.

Like so many places that used to be clear, the pool I remember is now a bed of phragmites, down near the blast of the east wind quite decapitated with hardly a hint of a plume left from last season. New, measurable, growth is showing and I think of the year a stand of this same plant along Ocean Avenue burned, leaving a lot clean and empty. It took all of one growing season for it to return.

That afternoon there was a red jacket on sand in the little cove, a “harbor” on the old maps and in the old deeds. It was a reminder that I had left my own coat on a post at the entrance to the beach, hanging on one of the square pieces of lumber from which a single heavy cord is strung. There were shoes on the shore as well, these things we leave in April — and in summer as well, as least early in the day — knowing they will be there when we return.

The next day it was hot in Boston and the newspapers culled the worse, one headlining a dire Patriots’ Day for sports in New England, citing a Red Sox loss, a Marathon lessened by heat and — classically, typically — a game the Bruins had not yet but probably would lose.

It is only April, the Red Sox and the Yankees fans are always panicking in April. That the Marathon was completed at all, the text begrudgingly acknowledged, was quite an accomplishment, but the time, it noted, was down, the second worst in twenty-five years. That’s the stuff of New England sports coverage, the second worst merits note.

And the Bruins may or may not have lost that game, the concept of this never-ending hockey season overlapping football training in April is just unnatural.

We were once part of the Bay Colony, seized territory for twenty-five years, a settled outpost for another three before being swept into the colony of Rhode Island by an act of the British crown. It makes more sense, certainly, that Block Island be attached to Rhode Island, it is simply a geographic practicality. But, every April, a part of me feels we are missing something not formally acknowledging that day the farmers held the bridge and fired the shot heard round the world.

Monday evening, headed home just before seven, I absently noticed the shad in bloom, a stray, sparse bush in the bayberry by the beach. The earth had been greened by a few showers, the light was that long light of spring, the air was warm, and it was not until I had traveled a mile or so north that it hit me: it was Patriots’ Day (observed) and the shad was coming to flower. Three days later, on April 19, the true anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, it will be in full array, glorious springtime on Block Island.

 

T

he weekend brought the weather for which we hope, the April Sunday afternoon of our imaginings and somewhat distorted memories. I have not gone to the beach so much this year as others and not so often north around and beyond Jerry’s Point; the tide has been high, the rocks uncovered, or both. But, a sweet black dog visiting from the West Side really, really, really wanted to go and so we went.

The beach is sandy all the way past the remains of Pots and Kettles, once so prominent a 1909 guidebook listed it in places of interest “ . . . the name given to a spot on the shore south of Clay Head where strange formations of clay and minerals, geodes and peculiar stones are found.”

There were great chunks, still, when I was little, in photos as well as my memory, pieces as large as construction equipment, backhoes or very big trucks, nearly filling the space between the cliff and the water at high tide. Now, there are but a few pieces left, nothing to catch the eye from any distance, nothing that would merit a titled line in a guidebook. They once seemed so mysterious, out of place on the sand below the clay-streaked bluff face, something dropped from the heavens we liked to pretend, although our parents said that was nonsense.

Now, a bit to the north, another outcropping is slowly emerging, as falling gravel runs over and around it. It is not as dramatic, as high or as irregular, as filled with Peculiar Stones, but it is, basically, the same stuff.

I wonder, sometimes, how much of Pots and Kettles remains on Block Island, how many people have chunks of it in their houses, like the piece that sits on the top on my old upright piano. It is a prize, with a partly sealed cavity in which sits a stone-shaped bit of fused minerals. There is enough room that it can rattle, the best my mother always said.

It has been years since I have done much more than move it around in rare dustings and now I have it on my table thinking it needs to be left out in the rain. I pick it up and realize a fine gray powder, finer than sand, coarser than clay dust, had been loosened by my handling, a tiny amount but a surprise. It has been here since I was quite small, in fact, I do not remember it ever not being in the house, one of my mother’s treasurers, that bit of Pots and Kettles with the rattle.

Mid-April and the ponds should be high. The drain from the pond behind my house, a long ago peat bog, once ran evenly to the shore. Over the years the drift has piled up, sand has swept in, vegetation has filled what used to be an open pool and now the water simply goes where it can, often covering a branch of the Clay Head Trail access, turning another sodden. The water follows differing routes then cuts through the sand on the beach, a course that can be inches deep, a miniature river canyon.

This April there has been so little rain there is barely a stream and that so anemic a child’s dam of twigs has halted its passage to the sea. Another season such a barrier would be broken almost as soon as it was put in place, now a shallow puddle forms, waiting for a tide to rise and collect it.

Like so many places that used to be clear, the pool I remember is now a bed of phragmites, down near the blast of the east wind quite decapitated with hardly a hint of a plume left from last season. New, measurable, growth is showing and I think of the year a stand of this same plant along Ocean Avenue burned, leaving a lot clean and empty. It took all of one growing season for it to return.

That afternoon there was a red jacket on sand in the little cove, a “harbor” on the old maps and in the old deeds. It was a reminder that I had left my own coat on a post at the entrance to the beach, hanging on one of the square pieces of lumber from which a single heavy cord is strung. There were shoes on the shore as well, these things we leave in April — and in summer as well, as least early in the day — knowing they will be there when we return.

The next day it was hot in Boston and the newspapers culled the worse, one headlining a dire Patriots’ Day for sports in New England, citing a Red Sox loss, a Marathon lessened by heat and — classically, typically — a game the Bruins had not yet but probably would lose.

It is only April, the Red Sox and the Yankees fans are always panicking in April. That the Marathon was completed at all, the text begrudgingly acknowledged, was quite an accomplishment, but the time, it noted, was down, the second worst in twenty-five years. That’s the stuff of New England sports coverage, the second worst merits note.

And the Bruins may or may not have lost that game, the concept of this never-ending hockey season overlapping football training in April is just unnatural.

We were once part of the Bay Colony, seized territory for twenty-five years, a settled outpost for another three before being swept into the colony of Rhode Island by an act of the British crown. It makes more sense, certainly, that Block Island be attached to Rhode Island, it is simply a geographic practicality. But, every April, a part of me feels we are missing something not formally acknowledging that day the farmers held the bridge and fired the shot heard round the world.

Monday evening, headed home just before seven, I absently noticed the shad in bloom, a stray, sparse bush in the bayberry by the beach. The earth had been greened by a few showers, the light was that long light of spring, the air was warm, and it was not until I had traveled a mile or so north that it hit me: it was Patriots’ Day (observed) and the shad was coming to flower. Three days later, on April 19, the true anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, it will be in full array, glorious springtime on Block Island.

 

T

he weekend brought the weather for which we hope, the April Sunday afternoon of our imaginings and somewhat distorted memories. I have not gone to the beach so much this year as others and not so often north around and beyond Jerry’s Point; the tide has been high, the rocks uncovered, or both. But, a sweet black dog visiting from the West Side really, really, really wanted to go and so we went.

The beach is sandy all the way past the remains of Pots and Kettles, once so prominent a 1909 guidebook listed it in places of interest “ . . . the name given to a spot on the shore south of Clay Head where strange formations of clay and minerals, geodes and peculiar stones are found.”

There were great chunks, still, when I was little, in photos as well as my memory, pieces as large as construction equipment, backhoes or very big trucks, nearly filling the space between the cliff and the water at high tide. Now, there are but a few pieces left, nothing to catch the eye from any distance, nothing that would merit a titled line in a guidebook. They once seemed so mysterious, out of place on the sand below the clay-streaked bluff face, something dropped from the heavens we liked to pretend, although our parents said that was nonsense.

Now, a bit to the north, another outcropping is slowly emerging, as falling gravel runs over and around it. It is not as dramatic, as high or as irregular, as filled with Peculiar Stones, but it is, basically, the same stuff.

I wonder, sometimes, how much of Pots and Kettles remains on Block Island, how many people have chunks of it in their houses, like the piece that sits on the top on my old upright piano. It is a prize, with a partly sealed cavity in which sits a stone-shaped bit of fused minerals. There is enough room that it can rattle, the best my mother always said.

It has been years since I have done much more than move it around in rare dustings and now I have it on my table thinking it needs to be left out in the rain. I pick it up and realize a fine gray powder, finer than sand, coarser than clay dust, had been loosened by my handling, a tiny amount but a surprise. It has been here since I was quite small, in fact, I do not remember it ever not being in the house, one of my mother’s treasurers, that bit of Pots and Kettles with the rattle.

Mid-April and the ponds should be high. The drain from the pond behind my house, a long ago peat bog, once ran evenly to the shore. Over the years the drift has piled up, sand has swept in, vegetation has filled what used to be an open pool and now the water simply goes where it can, often covering a branch of the Clay Head Trail access, turning another sodden. The water follows differing routes then cuts through the sand on the beach, a course that can be inches deep, a miniature river canyon.

This April there has been so little rain there is barely a stream and that so anemic a child’s dam of twigs has halted its passage to the sea. Another season such a barrier would be broken almost as soon as it was put in place, now a shallow puddle forms, waiting for a tide to rise and collect it.

Like so many places that used to be clear, the pool I remember is now a bed of phragmites, down near the blast of the east wind quite decapitated with hardly a hint of a plume left from last season. New, measurable, growth is showing and I think of the year a stand of this same plant along Ocean Avenue burned, leaving a lot clean and empty. It took all of one growing season for it to return.

That afternoon there was a red jacket on sand in the little cove, a “harbor” on the old maps and in the old deeds. It was a reminder that I had left my own coat on a post at the entrance to the beach, hanging on one of the square pieces of lumber from which a single heavy cord is strung. There were shoes on the shore as well, these things we leave in April — and in summer as well, as least early in the day — knowing they will be there when we return.

The next day it was hot in Boston and the newspapers culled the worse, one headlining a dire Patriots’ Day for sports in New England, citing a Red Sox loss, a Marathon lessened by heat and — classically, typically — a game the Bruins had not yet but probably would lose.

It is only April, the Red Sox and the Yankees fans are always panicking in April. That the Marathon was completed at all, the text begrudgingly acknowledged, was quite an accomplishment, but the time, it noted, was down, the second worst in twenty-five years. That’s the stuff of New England sports coverage, the second worst merits note.

And the Bruins may or may not have lost that game, the concept of this never-ending hockey season overlapping football training in April is just unnatural.

We were once part of the Bay Colony, seized territory for twenty-five years, a settled outpost for another three before being swept into the colony of Rhode Island by an act of the British crown. It makes more sense, certainly, that Block Island be attached to Rhode Island, it is simply a geographic practicality. But, every April, a part of me feels we are missing something not formally acknowledging that day the farmers held the bridge and fired the shot heard round the world.

Monday evening, headed home just before seven, I absently noticed the shad in bloom, a stray, sparse bush in the bayberry by the beach. The earth had been greened by a few showers, the light was that long light of spring, the air was warm, and it was not until I had traveled a mile or so north that it hit me: it was Patriots’ Day (observed) and the shad was coming to flower. Three days later, on April 19, the true anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, it will be in full array, glorious springtime on Block Island.