A walk on the beach -- 09/19/01

We have had beautiful weather these past few days... yesterday being a fine example, warm sunshine, summer heat is but a memory and yet autumn chill has not yet set in.

Schools in our town were closed for Rosh Hashanah so Nancy had the day off. The class I had expected to teach this week was cancelled (due to students cancelling) so I this would be a good time to use one of those vacation days that I had been too busy to take during the summer. One of Nancy's sister's was in Rhode Island with her son and daughter and we made arrangements to meet in Point Judith to enjoy a walk on the beach and lunch at Champlin's Seafood Restaurant.

Nancy and I reached Pt. Judith first so we wandered around the harbor harbor, watching the fishing boats (and the flocks of gulls that shadow them) and the Block Island ferries (there are now two competing companies, the established line, running large but slow ferries that can carry automobiles and freight vs. the upstarts who offer a high-speed passengers-only service).. and also people-watching... It was quite striking to note that a couple dozen people (mostly older, probably retired) gathered along the water's edge, some seated on large rocks (boulders), others on folding chairs, drinking coffee, reading newspapers, chatting, watching the boats and the birds (the bird watchers equipped with binoculars).

We found ourselves inadvertently eavesdropping on a nearby conversation as a woman (who explained having the day off because "I drive a school bus" and this was Rosh Hashanah and proceeded in the most delightful New England accent to explain that next week was Yom Kippur -- which she pronounced as Yom Kippah -- truly marvelous to hear it rhyme with the final syllable in "clam chowdah."

I was tempted to snap a picture of a pair of anglers fishing right next to Champlin's restaurant but I couldn't get the angle right to include them and the water and the Seafood Restaurant sign all in the same shot... it would have been an amusing snapshot.

Our niece and nephew (teenagers) were hungry when they arrived so we decided to have lunch before we went for our walk. A hamburger and a cheeseburger plus fries for the kids (what else would you order at a seafood restaurant?) but Nancy and her sister and I each had a pint of clam chowder (all three chose white) and we split an order of a dozen clamcakes. (I foolishly requested an order of onion rings but this was too much, we couldn't finish everything.) Champlin's is one of my favorite seafood restaurants -- very informal -- the restaurant is on the second floor, you place your order and wait for them to call your number... you can eat inside or outside on a deck overlooking the water (and the docks where the fishing boats moor -- yes, this is fresh fish). Before we moved to Rhode Island, when we would visit her parents, if we were at Scarborough Beach, Nancy and her father liked to walk along the shore to Point Judith (maybe a mile and a half or so) to get take-out containers of clam chowder to bring back to the beach.

The state beach next to the harbor at Point Judith is Salty Brine State Beach...named in honor of Salty Brine, a Rhode Island radio and television personality who, years after his retirement remains a local icon. All Rhode Island baby-boomers grew up watching his television children's program and listening to his morning radio broadcast for announcements of school closings in winter. As I have mentioned here a few times, winter weather along the coast is usually a bit milder than I was accustomed to in upstate New York... the ocean moderates the temperature just enough that our snow storms may begin with rain, come down as snow for a while, and then change back to rain... while just a few miles inland they may get several inches more snowfall. (Of course when a Nor'easter hits, all bets are off, we're all going to get a lot of snow dumped on us!) Two of the most inland (and rural) towns in Rhode Island are Foster and Glouster, which have, due to their relatively sparse population, a joint school district. If it snows in Rhode Island, those two towns will probably have the most snow. When Salty Brine would read the list of weather-related school closings, he wouldn't make people wait through the list, he would start right off with a resounding "No school in Foster-Glouster!" He has been retired for at least a decade (or more) but people will still greet each other during Rhode Island snow storms with "No school in Foster-Glouster!" (Salty has a yaght -- guess what it is called -- right, it is the NOSCHOOLINFOSTERGLOUSTER This past spring Nancy and I were in Charleston, SC -- the taxi driver (who, by accent, was obviously of local origin) asked us where we were from -- when we replied "Rhode Island" he turned and delightedly cried out "No school in Foster-Glouster!" (He explained that he had a good friend who had grown up in Rhode Island.)

So we walked along the shore at Salty Brine State Beach. (By the way, that is his legal name, it's not a nickname... oh, of course, his parents had not christened him "Salty" but he had it changed legally many years ago.... and he is silver-haired, quite elderly, missing a leg, but very much alive and beloved by an entire state.)

We walked down to where Scarborough beach begins (the kids stopped about halfway there and waited for us)... grass covered sand dunes on the inland side (with the tops of some very expensive beach houses peeking above them)... small waves splashing on shore... low tide... a few people walking the beach, a few others sitting in beach chairs or lying on blankets, reading, napping, just soaking up some end of season sunshine... a light breeze... blue skies with a few white clouds...

I got in a nice four mile run in the morning, bought four new tires for my daughter's car, had lunch with people I enjoy, had a pleasant walk on a beach under blue skies... went back home, finished reading John Grisham's novel A Painted House (not one of his lawyer adventure books, this was a very different kind of novel for him, the story of a young boy growing up on a cotton farm in rural Arkansas during the Korean War... I really enjoyed it)... accomplished some chores around the house, went grocery shopping... had a quiet dinner with Nancy... Sean and a buddy of his were fixing their own dinners when I got back from shopping and Jennifer was asleep (work 3rd shift, then go to school, then sleep)... So I had a pleasant and peaceful day...

And then I gave Sean's friend a ride home and stopped at CVS to pick up some pictures I had dropped off earlier to be processed. It was one of those single-use cameras... I tend to have two or three laying around the house... this one I had taken some pictures when Nancy and I had gone out to dinner with a couple of her sisters earlier in the summer and I had it with me when I was in Pittsburgh early in August... but the first pictures on it were from when Sean had taken a school field trip to New York City in June to visit Ellis Island, etc.

One of the pictures had been taken on the ferry from Ellis Island, a picture of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhatten skyline

And my eyes teared up...

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