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Posts Tagged ‘block island’

Art: Josie Merck
Mansion Beach, New Shoreham, Rhode Island

Oh, my poetry-loving readers, you are in for a treat! Praised by poets Lisa Starr and Naomi Shihab Nye and US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, among others, a book of paintings and poems that captures a powerful love of a place just became available. It’s Present on Block Island, by poet Nancy Greenaway and painter Josie Merck.

I have written about Nancy Greenaway in several posts, including the time she asked for feedback on her owl poem. Her collaborator Josie Merck is both a fine painter and an extraordinary benefactor of environmental causes. Her love of nature, especially in Rhode Island, is palpable in the art illustrating the collection.

I welcomed like an old friend Nancy’s owl poem, but the other poems were new to me. They cover a variety of themes, especially the joy that the beauty of nature can inspire. But there are also poems about friendships; a poem about a big-shot visitor who failed to engage school children; a moving contribution about a brush with death (the plane’s fuel line froze; “we all now know/ just how we’d handle/ a situation like that”); a funny one about being trapped in brambles near home and calling out for help before deciding to crawl on her belly to safety; and a very touching poem about island great Fred Benson, who lived to 101 and hoped that the afterlife would be something like Block Island.

I enjoyed Nancy’s many intriguing turns of phrase, too — like a new meaning for “weather underground” and the reference to ice cream as George Washington’s “revolutionary dessert.”

You can find the book at http://www.lulu.com. Or you can call the Island Bound Bookstore at 1 401 466 8878, as I did to buy my copy with a credit card. It arrived in the mail soon after.

From “Astonished,” by Nancy Greenaway

“Each morning that I wake
“to sun painting black sky blue
“and inhale ocean-chilled air,
“I am astonished.

“First glance out my window
“grants me cloud migrations
“over Great Salt Pond,
“sails on Long Island Sound.

“I drive to work with crows,
“gulls, hawks, terns, herons
“following overhead,
“pass waddling ducks, walkers,

“check ocean choppiness
“in scene-slots between dunes,
“wave to fellow drivers
“who wave to me in turn. …

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Photo: Judy Benson, Day Staff Writer
Kevin McBride, far right, anthropology professor at the University of Connecticut and director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, contemplates artifacts uncovered by Hurricane Sandy.

Today I’m linking to a couple articles about the work of Prof. Kevin McBride, director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut. The first describes how he found a mutually beneficial way to work with metal detectionists so that details of finds would not be lost.

The partnership is surprising as archaeologists put a high priority on removing artifacts from their surroundings in a scientific way, and are usually at loggerheads with people using metal detectors.

The New York Times, where I read about this, has new firewalls that make it hard to share excerpts of articles like this one, alas, so I scouted out a related article by Judy Benson, a Day staff writer. In this one, Kevin McBride’s team turned up signs of Manisses activity on Block Island after Hurricane Sandy.

Judy Benson wrote, “Each no bigger than a fingernail, the two brown shards easily could have been mistaken for insignificant bits of rock, hardly a fitting reward for a day’s work. But to Kevin McBride and his dozen-member archaeology crew … at Grace’s Cove beach [that was] exactly what all the careful digging, scraping and sifting were about. … They probably are pieces of pottery left by the Manissee tribe that once inhabited the island. …

“McBride has been running archaeological digs here since 1983, but it wasn’t until 2012, when Superstorm Sandy gouged out broad sections of these dunes, that his chance to lead this project — the most comprehensive archaeological study of Block Island that’s ever been done, he said — came along. The state of Rhode Island decided to use about $500,000 of federal storm relief funds earmarked for assessments of cultural resources damaged by the storm to fund archaeological work along the state’s shoreline and the Block Island coast. …

” ‘Sandy did things to this island’s coastline that no one’s ever seen before, stripping away these dunes. The sites we’re focusing on are at risk in the next storm. The artifacts we’re finding will be lost if you don’t pick them up.’ ”

More at the Day, here.

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This healthy sunflower is at the Old Manse in Concord. The Trustees of Reservations always plant a big garden there, with pumpkins growing between the corn rows.

The lantern-like seed pods in the next photo embellish a tree beside the Providence River. The leaf shadows on brick were spotted not far away, along a grubby Providence sidewalk.

Can you read the plaque on the Providence Journal building? It shows the crazy height that the water reached in the infamous Hurricane of ’38. Golly!

My husband says the barrier at Fox Point will prevent flooding like that from ever happening again. I don’t know. Were the engineers aware of global warming when they started construction in 1960?

New Shoreham (in the next picture) was also battered in the hurricane of ’38. In fact, the storm wiped out the island economy on land and sea. The fishermen and farmers were not insured against such a catastrophe. No wonder people there remember that hurricane!

One thing that is different since 1938, as I learned in a splendid book called A Wind to Shake the World, communities in the path of a hurricane now get plenty of warning. But in 1938, when houses on Long Island, New York, were washing out to sea, no one up north knew it.

A few other shots of New Shoreham: a Wednesday farmers market, the Little Free Library, a view through a stone wall, a rumpled morning sky, and the North Light.

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There’s just one thing you probably can’t figure out from this picture story: what the guys are singing …

“All my exes live in Texas/ It’s why I hang my hat in Tennessee.”

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Although I didn’t get to see it in person, I was excited to learn from Timmons Roberts by way of Erik that the indigenous Hawaiian canoe Hōkūleʻa was making a stop in Rhode Island.

Lars Trodson writes at the Block Island Times, “The island welcomed the crew of the Polynesian catamaran Hōkūle‘a [June 21] at a ceremony held at the Block Island Maritime Center in New Harbor. The crew was greeted with songs sung by the students from the Block Island School, as well as greetings and tribal gifts from Loren Spears, an educator and former Council Member of the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island. Capt. Kalepa Baybayan of the Hōkūle‘a also offered brief remarks.

“The Hōkūle‘a is traveling around the world to teach about ocean conservation. ‘We live on a blue planet,’said capt. Baybayan. ‘Without the blue there would be no green.’ …

“Block Island is the Hōkūle‘a’s  only stop in Rhode Island.”

From the Hōkūleʻa website: “Our Polynesian voyaging canoes, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, are traveling over 60,000 nautical miles around the earth, bringing people around the world together to set a course for a sustainable future.

“We are sailing like our ancestors have for a thousand years—using wayfinding. On board, there is no compass, sextant, or cellphone, watch, or GPS for direction. In wayfinding, the sun, moon, and stars are a map that surrounds the navigators. When clouds and storms make it impossible to see that map, wave patterns, currents, and animal behavior give a navigator directional clues to find tiny islands in the vast ocean. …

“Everyone can be the navigator our earth needs. Every person on earth can help navigate us to a healthy future where our Island Earth is safe and thriving again. …

“We are asking kids, families, governments, communities, and businesses to share how they mālama honua—take care of our Island Earth.  Please visit our Mālama Honua map, and help us grow the movement by adding stories of hope that can inspire and educate us all. …

“Hōkūleʻa, our Star of Gladness, began as a dream of reviving the legacy of exploration, courage, and ingenuity that brought the first Polynesians to the archipelago of Hawaiʻi. The canoes that brought the first Hawaiians to their island home had disappeared from earth. Cultural extinction felt dangerously close to many Hawaiians when artist Herb Kane dreamed of rebuilding a double-hulled sailing canoe similar to the ones that his ancestors sailed.

“Though more than 600 years had passed since the last of these canoes had been seen, this dream brought together people of diverse backgrounds and professions. Since she was first built and launched in the 1970s, Hōkūle’a continues to bring people together from all walks of life. She is more than a voyaging canoe—she represents the common desire shared by the people of Hawaii, the Pacific, and the World to protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.”

Lots more at www-dot-hokulea-dot-com.

Photo: Block Island Times

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Feeling the cold setting in?  Well here’s a summery scene on New Shoreham’s famed Painted Rock, one of my favorite pictures of the island’s constantly changing bulletin board. Wish I knew who the artist was.

John is behind the new tumblr blog featuring the Painted Rock in as many iterations as folks can dig out of the albums and send along.

Here’s what John had to say about it on the island e-board:

“Thanks for the kind comments and great pics submitted to paintedrockbi.tumblr.com The ‘mini cooper rock’ and the ‘hamburger rock’ are especially cool.

“There was also a question about me and the reason for the blog, so here goes.

“About 20 years ago my mother painted the rock early one morning to celebrate my sister turning 16 and my turning 21. Our summer home is a only short walk down Mohegan Trail from the rock, but if you took careful note of our ages, you might guess that my sister and I were not really morning people.

“So by the time we had rolled out of bed and made it down the street to look, it was already painted over. No photos were taken, but I know it’s there buried under all the layers. Now I am a parent, and it kind of reminds me of the many things we do for our children that no one ever really sees, but we keep doing anyhow.

“For many years I’ve been thinking about how best to document the many cool rock paintings. And last week I finally got around to doing something about it; hopefully the page will continue to get submissions and we can save the many small memories behind each coat of paint.”

Check it out: http://paintedrockbi.tumblr.com/

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It took a little poking around on the web as neither the Rhode Island State Arts Council nor the Block Island Airport seem to have published any information on the airport’s new exhibit, but I can finally share some tidings of artist Neal Personeus.

From Cape Scapes: “Neal began his interest in driftwood sculptures as a young boy on the beaches of North Truro in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His original works were typically pirate ships in the sand made from the various flotsam and jetsam that Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean would return to the land. By the time he was in his early teens, his works began to change towards wharf scenes and typical seaside shops perched upon interesting driftwood base pieces.

“When Neal was in his early twenties, he became an architectural and engineering draftsman. He rented a beachside cottage with some friends during the summer of 1984, and spent the entire vacation working beachside on his sculptures while watching the Olympics. It was during this time that he honed in on the type of works he would ultimately settle upon. Utilizing his interest in architecture, he would scour the beaches and dunes for beautifully bleached and unusually shaped base pieces, and then picture the style of house that would blend into and compliment the environment of the base piece.” More here.

You can find lots of Neal’s work on Pinterest if you search on Neal Personeus. And check out this Warwick Museum of Art poster featuring the piece called “Yeah … but the view” here.

Art: Neal Personeus
This humorous piece, currently in an exhibit of Personeus sculptures at the Block Island Airport, is called “Yeah … but the view.”

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