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Posts Tagged ‘rhode island’

I haven’t shared photos for a while. Some of these are from my last sad visit to New York, others are closer to home.

The first one makes me think of how hopeful I was on September 24th, when I arrived in New York and stayed with my sister’s devoted friend. I learned that my sister was doing better than the day before although she was still in the hospital. She was talking again and saying she wanted to carry on with treatment. We allowed ourselves a flutter of hope.

The bed is a Murphy Bed, made famous in old, silent movies, where someone like Charlie Chaplin might accidentally get closed up in it. This one was comfortable and not at all recalcitrant.

My hosts’ balcony had a glorious view. I sat there and had a cup of tea. I also took an early walk around their neighborhood, which features a statue of the Dutch director-general of the colony of New Netherland (now New York), “Peg Leg” Peter Stuyvesant. I couldn’t help wondering what the descendants of the Lenape natives thought of the statue.

Alas, the next day my sister took a dramatic turn for the worse and died the day after that. Miraculously, our brothers arrived in time from Wisconsin and California.

On days that followed, my sister’s husband, her friend, Suzanne, and I wandered around the city trying to enjoy nature and art and focus on good memories.

Then I took a bus back to Rhode Island, where I had left my car in a hurry. The rooster is in Rhode Island.

The concluding set of photos embraces art and nature back home in Massachusetts, where a long-life sympathy plant from my niece and nephew holds pride of place in the living room.

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The angle of light makes September seem close at hand, so it’s time to round up a few more photos from my Rhode Island summer before the hurricanes start.

As they do every year, both families of grandchildren took a turn at a lemonade stand to raise money either for a big item on a wish list — or a visit to the candy store.

Another every-year thing is the opening of my neighbor’s lotus flowers. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, it always feels like an unexpected miracle. I took the photo of a bud, and Sandra M. Kelly captured a full-blown lotus when I was in New York.

Sandra also took the photo of the jellies. She’s a famous jelly maker locally, making blackberry, beach plum, and strawberry-rhubarb jams and jellies, among others. But this was the first year we picked Queen Anne’s Lace so she could attempt the lemony jelly that Thelma, an island character, used to make out of the flowers. It had a lovely flavor.

On a couple of our early walks, I picked an array of wildflowers, carrying them home in my water bottle to make bouquets.

I also took shots of a lacy fire-escape shadow, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar, and a dew-bejeweled spiderweb.

I made a big mistake about the caterpillar, though, disrupting the course of nature by bringing it home on a milkweed stem thinking the kids would see it make its cocoon, emerge, and fly away safely. But the caterpillar absconded while I was out picking more milkweed.

I’m distressed about that because there is no milkweed growing on the property for the run-away to eat, and I’m worried it won’t ever turn into a butterfly. I will never do that again. If I see a cocoon, I might bring that home on a stem for the kids. At least a cocoon won’t abscond. But I’m more wary of disrupting nature now, especially as Monarchs are much less plentiful than they once were.

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In July I took pictures in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York and will be sharing them bit by bit. These are from New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

The first one is a view that caught my eye through a bathroom window. You have to grab these shots when you see them.

Next is the endangered wildflower Blazing Star, which is doing very well in the protected Land Trust area. Then we have an offbeat signpost. People seem to get especially creative in summer. There’s a feeling of “Well, why not?”

In the backyard of the tiny Three Sisters restaurant, you see some of the goodies that go into the delicious sandwiches. In the front yard, Queen Anne’s Lace. By the way, today I helped chef extraordinaire and walking partner Sandra pick Queen Anne’s Lace so she could make a jelly that the late taxi maven Thelma used to make. Here is a recipe we found from the Edible Wild Food site. If you make it, be sure you know what you are picking. As my husband reminds me, there are plants that look like Queen Anne’s Lace that are not safe to eat.

At John E’s tughole, I loved the shadows beneath the still water. And at the beach I saw dragons in the driftwood. (Do you see them? I admit, the photo would benefit from sharper contrast between the sleepy dragons and the background.)

As the tide came in, it drenched my favorite Tom’s shoes, given to me by my daughter-in-law some years ago. I may have to get new beach shoes soon.

No New Shoreham post would be complete without a photo of the Painted Rock. This one features a Ninja Turtle. Read how the rock first came to be painted for a Halloween prank in the 1960s, here. (And for some of the better Painted Rock art, check out Tumblr, here.)

The final picture shows the excellent job the state is doing to plant beach grass and protect the island’s west side from erosion. (Can you see the burlap-like covering holding the plants in place as they establish themselves? It’s a tried and true conservation technique at the shore.)

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These photos are mostly mine, taken over the last month in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. But the adorable baby owls were captured by one of my brothers in his Wisconsin backyard. All the bird lovers in my family were envious of his owls.

In Massachusetts, I was especially drawn to flowers against fences, including my own Black-eyed Susans. Success at last! I’ve been trying to grown more native species for some time now.

In Rhode Island, I enjoyed looking at second-hand shops, art galleries, and unexpected decorations like this hydrangea-covered tank.

John got a permit for a fire on the beach so the kids could make s’mores, and Erik broke up logs for it by jumping on them.

The painted rock offered words of wisdom for protecting the environment, including turtles.

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Rhode Island has an outstanding independent, environmental news publication called ecoRI News. Who says local news is dead?

Well, actually, it is very much endangered and requires heroic efforts by those who understand its importance. Reporting at ecoRI News, for example, played a pivotal role in the rejection of an unnecessary new fossil-fuel plant in Burrillville, after a fight that lasted years (producing hostile stickers on utility poles throughout the state). The story may have been partly about quality of life in a small Rhode Island community, but as we now know, every bit of fossil fuel threatens the whole planet.

Local news addresses other issues that have international implications. As Tim Faulkner reported at ecoRI News in April, “Plastic pollution is everywhere, showing up in the air, water, food, and consequently in our bodies.

“To draw attention to this ubiquitous waste problem, plastic-catching traps, called trash skimmers, have been installed around Narragansett Bay to collect plastic debris and other trash in the marine environment.

“The latest skimmer was recently unveiled inside the hurricane barrier on the Providence River. It’s heralded as the first trash skimmer to be installed in a state capital.

“Using a pump to draw in debris, the partially submerged plastic box catches surface trash such as floating bottles and tiny debris called microparticles. Each skimmer costs about $12,000.

“Since 2017, three trash skimmers in Newport and one in Portsmouth have collected 27,000 pounds of trash. Cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers, and foam debris are the most common items collected. The skimmers are emptied daily throughout most of the year by interns and student groups. Each contains between 20 and 200 pounds of daily trash. The skimmers have collected unusual items such as floating plastic disks from a wastewater treatment plant in East Providence.

“The project is run by Clean Ocean Access, the Middletown-based pollution advocacy group directed by David McLaughlin.

“ ‘The skimmer is the last line of defense for our oceans, and each installation allows for open, positive, and forward-thinking conversation of how to solve the local and global problem of litter and marine debris,’ McLaughlin said. …

“Plastic bags are one of the top items collected in the trash skimmers. So far, 10 Rhode Island municipalities — Barrington, Bristol, Jamestown, Middletown, New Shoreham, Newport, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, South Kingstown, and Warren — have enacted bans on plastic retail bags. East Providence, Providence, and Westerly are poised to pass bans. …

“The trash skimmer project is funded by 11th Hour Racing, a Newport-based funder of ocean stewardship initiatives. … Two skimmers are operating in Newport Harbor and a third is in the water off Fort Adams. Another is at New England Boat Works in Portsmouth. A trash skimmer is operating in Gloucester, Mass., and a new trash skimmer is scheduled to be unveiled in New Bedford Harbor during the week of Earth Day. Other skimmers are planned for Stamford, Conn., and possibly Fall River, Mass.”

More here.

Photo: Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News
The Providence trash skimmer, which helps to clear plastic waste from Rhode Island waters, is fixed to a floating dock below the riverfront deck at the Hot Club
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The quirky Frog & Toad shop on Hope Street carries a variety of these funny metal creatures. This lobster on ice is an especially good one for New England.

Most weeks when I am in Providence, I volunteer at Dorcas International Tuesday morning and at the Genesis Center Tuesday afternoon. Last week, because Dorcas was doing its standardized testing, I had the morning off and decided to stop in at the Swedish-themed shop called Café Choklad and then at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Here are a few photos of that morning and another day of Providence wandering.

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At Great Salt Pond, young students from Rhode Island cities learn how to make and tow plankton nets and test water quality.

There’s a lovely story at ecoRI News that I wanted to share with you. It makes me both happy and sad — happy that some underserved urban kids are getting an inspiring engagement with nature in the summer but sad that it’s unusual for them. The experiences are those that my own children and grandchildren have had almost every year of their lives, experiences that really should be accessible to all children.

Frank Carni writes, “Most of the teenagers arriving on Block Island this summer, at least those affiliated with The College Crusade of Rhode Island, are coming from communities covered in pavement. Many had never been on a boat before and most had never set foot on New Shoreham.

“The students are making a good first impression, with their observations, curiosity, and passion for the environment, despite living among more gray and black than green and blue. The island community has embraced the out-of-towners from Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Cranston.

“ ‘We throw a lot at them and it’s amazing what they absorb,’ said Valerie Preler, program director for the Block Island Maritime Institute (BIMI).

‘I learn a lot by watching what they see and what they say.’

“For the past 10 years the BIMI’s Dolphin Program has worked with and learned from students from underserved communities from Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York City. Last year BIMI partnered with Providence-based The College Crusade of Rhode Island, as Block Island hosted a group of students from the college-readiness and scholarship program for middle-school and high-school students in low-income urban school districts for a week of learning and fun. …

“The mission of The College Crusade is to increase high-school graduation, college and career readiness, and college completion for youth in Rhode Island’s low-income communities. The organization supports about 4,200 students in middle school, high school, and college annually. Students join the program in grade 6 and continue through the early years of college, if they attend a public college in Rhode Island. …

“They learn to problem solve, study ecology by exploring the Great Salt Pond, and discuss the island’s different levels of biodiversity.

“During their visit to the museum at the Block Island Historical Society the students learn how colonists deforested in the island in the 1660s, how the island’s swordfish population was depleted by overfishing, how the introduction of deer in the 1960s for hunting purposes has led to the island’s current overpopulation problem, and why there is less bird migration to the island — more people and a growing population of feral cats.

“ ‘It’s an eye-opening experience for these kids, and for some it’s life-changing,’ [Lauren Schechtman, director of middle-school operations for The College Crusade] said. ‘Our kids don’t normally have access to these type of educational resources.’

“This Block Island adventure, like The College Crusade program, is free to the students and their families. They stay in a house rented by The College Crusade, enjoy dinners with Block Island families, and some New Shoreham restaurants help feed the island’s young guests for free.

“Besides visiting the island’s Great Salt Pond, the students go bird banding with The Nature Conservancy, learn about the Block Island Wind Farm, take a night-sky walk, tour New Harbor on the island’s west side, and conduct a beach cleanup. They also enjoy kayaking and/or paddle boarding, a beach visit, and fishing by the Coast Guard Station.”

I hope they loved the whole experience. Great Salt Pond is an especially intriguing place, where just this past weekend John, with family and friends, went seining and pulled up some real treasures: three pipe fish, a baby flounder, shrimp, and many minnows. They threw them back for another day.

More at ecoRI News, here. Be sure to check the other photos, including the one of bird banding. Our family has many great memories of bird banding with the woman who would have taught the kids in the story.

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