Archive for November, 2009

Block Island in November. Getting Re-acclimated

November 23, 2009

It has been a while now since i spent any meaningful amount of time on Block Island.

I mean, i can count on my hands the amount of times i have returned home after going off to grad school.
Once to note that who my boyfriend was, really wasn’t — and that the man i really wanted to be my boyfriend would never be. The second was to show someone i love a place that i loved. The third was to show that someone what i used to do in the place i loved. The fourth time i began to question what i truly did love about both the place and the people who lived there. The fifth i defined the parts that could remain lovable and what my new home in Maine offers that BI can not. And the sixth time Cole and I brought Parker to show him that there were many things to love on Block Island and there are many things still to be learned as I continue to re-define this place.

Our plan was to arrive mid day and begin exploring right away. We drove the car from NH to Point Judith, without a car reservation, missed the 11 am ferry and had to kill six hours in southern RI without going too far or missing our car’s stand bye position to get on the 5 pm ferry. It was dark when we finished the hour ferry ride and landed on the island. We were hungry so we met up with the one and only, John Foster, for some dinner at the Albion and Parker’s first lesson: the game of pool.

The next morning Cole and Parker discovered the Mannissee farm animals. A collection of strange and peculiar varieties of camels, sheep, mules, zebras, rams, chickens, goats… my favorite are the fainting sheep. Then we went out into the rainy morning to explore all the nooks and crannies we could get our Outback into.

Beginning at in the southeast at the Mohegan Bluffs, Parker found clay sediments and signs of geological terms like erradic and slump. We walked the steep stairs down and began our rock collecting in the clay sediments at the bottom of the bluffs. Next, we went over to the second bluffs and found the even more beautiful steep and dangerous views down to where the Mannissees supposedly starved out an invading Mohegan tribe.
Then, around the island we went. Fresh Pond, Indian Cemetery, Cooneymus Rd. Beach, West Side Quarry, over Beacon Hill, and into town for a BIG (Block Island Grocery) deli sandwich. There we ran into just who we weren’t looking for, but wanted to see – Donnie Demers!

Donnie has a practice of going every morning, before work (stripping a roof the weekend we were there) to the North Point or the Dump Beach in search of Native American Indian artifacts. He had a truck floor full and a truck bed scattered with remnants of that morning’s outing. Donnie claims his classification of his artifacts are simply “speculation and conjecture” but, theorizing about Native American Indian technologies is what we were ready for. We made a date for Saturday night, after he got done with work, to come over to his place to see and talk about his massive collection of Mannissean Indian clubs, arrow heads, hammers, scraper, and grinding tools.  We made plans to visit Donnie — at home after he was done with work the next day — to see his collection and discuss all of his findings in their entirety.

Our day continued, eating our lunch on State Beach, at the sole picnic bench stashed above high tide at the Fred Benson Pavilion. We continued north down Corn Neck Rd. to reach the Dump Beach (Donnie believes this was an area where the tools were being made).  It is widely known that the north side of the island is where the most dense settlement of Native Americans (Manisseans) lived. We spent some time here and then went to the very end and trekked out to the North Light. Both of these spots (Dump and North Light) are places i never really hung out at because they are notorious party spots and i never gave them much credit for other things. There was no evidence of any partying in either place except for a beautiful fire pit in between some dunes near the tip of the island. It was windy as hell and we chased seagulls up into a cloud above us and then stood at the very tip of the island looking out at the vastness of the ocean in every direction.

The next day we hiked some of the Greenway trails. We own the “On This Island” guide book — authored by Scott Comings and Adrian Mitchell — and Parker chose to start on the Fresh Pond Greenway trail. This trail lolled its way through some meadows and lots of low shrubs surrounding the pond. We saw a few deer and tried to get a good eye on some birds. After what was a nice bird watching, deer siting walk around the pond, we went down into Rodman’s Hollow, and up onto the bluffs heading towards Black Rock. Here we took longer to get out than we liked and P began to get tired out. We fed him and hit the trails again. This time, our final stop past the Painted Rock and down to Vail Beach.

The sounds of the water running down alongside the trail to the beach with the ocean roaring ahead was my favorite part of the trip. We spent a long while walking Vail Beach looking for things that caught our eye and making our way to a fort i knew of that we found to have been be destroyed. We went back to John Foster’s to relax before our visit with Donnie, which ended up being the highlight of Parker (and i think Cole’s) experience of Block Island in November.

Borrowed from The Book Collection of R.Lieber:

November 9, 2009

The Loom of Art
Germain Bazin (Chief Curator, Museum of the Louvre) – author.
Jonathan Griffin – translator.
Simon and Schuster. New York. 1962. 328p.

On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection

Susan Stewart
Duke University Press. 1993. 232p.

The Poetics of Space

Gaston Bachelard

Sign Removal

November 9, 2009

Crows Follow Us Carrying Chimes

November 8, 2009

See accompanying video here: While. Waiting. To. Explode.Calling the Crows

On The
Walk, Video, Afternoon:

Brisk, cold wind pushes us as we search out new places on the inner trails of the island.  We walk from home over Covey’s land to Little Trot John Park.  Pass by horse with the sharpest, most cutting eyes i have ever seen.  I don’t know the names of any of the horses boarded in the barns back there but i always stop and try to talk to them.  The one we passed on our way out to explore kept trying to eat my hand thinking i brought a carrot.  He was smaller, young looking, dark but not really black or brown.  Cole left me trying to get to know this horse, continuing ahead.

I caught up and we walked up and around into part of the Park where a few people on the island have gotten together to start a community garden.  It looked as though they were trying to kill the grass in a 30×40 section of land with cardboard piled a top with mulch.  There was a a decent rug too, in one spot.  There was no mulch on the rug.  We walked through the dieing grass, and down towards the transfer station in order to head into the marshy woods situated across from it.

It was the end of the trail we had blazed yesterday when we entered the woods higher on Brackett Street.  We were aiming to find another way back onto a trail we had already travelled.  We passed these amazing marsh plants that look like the above water version of sea anemones.  They were visibly succulent, low, flowering, yellowish green, with reddish buds — beautifully squishy islands in the marshy areas.  It was unfortunate to stomp on them, and i kept thinking of how maybe we should be trying to protect them more (instead of stomping them.)  Still we used them for stepping stones through the parts that were hard to navigate due to the stranglehold of the invasive barberry and bittersweet.

We meet back up with the marked trail that, we guess, the Peaks Island Land Preserve maintains.  The trail is marked with three vertical dots in white spray paint about 8 feet up on a tree lining the path.  A man we ran into yesterday had been going over these blazes with glow in the dark spray paint, he said, so his wife could walk the path at night.  It was a very remarkable gesture to witness.

Today, an even more remarkable gesture occurred.  As we walked up a branch of the trail we have yet to experience, we came across a wind chime.  It hung on one branch of a small tree that seemed to proclaim we had reached a high ground, a stopping point, a meditation spot.  However, in all of its perfectness, it had lost three of its rods to worn out strings and they lay in the leaves, silent.  Cole thought this sad and wanted to do something.  I immediately thought we should take it home and fix it and bring it back.  He thought we could tie them back on right there.  This was attempted but to no avail as the strings simply needed to be replaced and were too short to tie up.  Therefore, my first thought prevailed and we decided we would take it home to fix and bring it back for whoever it belonged to enjoy anew.

Taking up the sturdy, rusted, metal crate i had slung a stick through and carried in one hand — the stick was warmer to carry than the metal itself — and the not worn through string the chimes were hanging from in the other, we continued.  The chimes jingled as we shuffled through leaves back out to the main road.  Cole said he thought they were happy.  They certainly sounded happy to be moving.  It re-affirmed my belief that most things are happier when they’re moving.   Maybe happiness is created in moving.  Even if that is not true or relevant at all to the chimes, they made wonderful sounds being carried through the November woods.

The crows thought so too.  Before long, there were caw ca CAWS flying towards us.  They lighted in the trees above us, and had corralled Heta back, possibly from the road as we were getting closer to cars.  They kept following us and cawing, and cawing, and flying above us all the way up to the road, and even then on the road some too.  The jingling chimes went with us and so did the crows.

We cut back over Brackett, back over to where Covey boards the horses leaving the crows behind, still cawing at us but not moving into different territory.  We were back in the horses territory and there was another really striking darker and slightly larger horse in the corral across from the one we saw on our way heading out.  This horse I wish I knew the name of.  He let us rub him a little and we would have stayed and spent more time but there was a man with two small dogs who were following our dog.  So we walked away from the horse whose name i wish i knew and he started whinnying at us to come back.  He whinnied until we were out of sight over the hill and i kept saying “bye” loud enough so he could hopefully hear, but i did feel bad we left him so quickly.

We began to talk about all the animals we had seen today and it dawned on me that when i did my medicine cards with my cousin in Utah a few years back i had pulled both a Crow and a Horse.  Also a Mouse (which eats pie i leave on the counter) a Butterfly (which we hatch) an Armadillo (which Cole and i just drew together)  a Lizard (orange salamander things in NH) and a Dolphin (Minke whale Cole and I saw sailing the sunfish last fall) and I think the last one was a Fox (i can’t find the piece of paper i wrote all of it down on) (Cole has a stunning photograph of a dead coyote which i think is a comparable animal.) There are eight animals in a totem which makes up your medicine cards (one pulled for each direction i.e. north, south, east, west, northeast, soutwest etc.)  You can only pull the cards once in your life, from what i remember.  In other words, the animals I picked in Salt Lake would be part of my totem everywhere, i would carry them within me my whole life.

It was just a thought that struck me on the end of our walk, how all the animals that we encounter through living on this island are ones that might be related to me somehow.  Possibly related to Cole as well.  The coyote and the crows i think are.  We need to find some medicine cards and he can draw them and find out.  Staying on track though, we walked home, the chimes were still sounding the whole way.

Unidentified Island Plant (Grows in the Marshes)

Bittersweet November Walk 09

On Longing – Susan Stewart

November 4, 2009


“Let me begin with the invisibility and blindness of the suburbs.  Between classes, a fundamental slippage – the absence of the landscape of voyage.  The suburbs present us with a negation of the present; a landscape consumed by its past and its future.  Hence the two foci of the suburbs: the nostalgic and the technological. A butterchurn fashioned into an electric light, a refrgerator covered by children’s drawings, the industreial “park,” the insurance company’s “campus.”  The celibacy of the suburbs articulates its inversion of nature: the woman becomes a sun, the man a revolving moon.  Here is a landscape of apprehension: close to nature, and not sonsumed by her; close to culture, close enough to consume her.  In the topography of the suburbs is revealed the topography of the family, the development , a network of social relations and their articulated absences.  To walk in the suburbs is to announce a crippling, a rennunciation of speed.  In the suburbs only outsiders walk, while the houses are illuminated as stages, scenes of an uncertain action.  In these overapparent arrangements of interior space, confusion and distance mark the light.
The countryside: space ideal, space of childhood and death.  The forest remote, water mirroring not ourselves but the infinite distance of sky.  WIthin patterns of nature, we search for traces of the human: a tiny rowboat pulled up to shore, the oars folded and asleep.  Perhaps a figure, but microscopic, and on the edge of some oblivion — a cliff, or the other side of the painting.  Everwhere signs of cultivatoin and wilderness: the plowed field of poetic lines, the ax left leaning against a colossal tree.  The countryside unfolds, maplike before us, simultaneous and immediate.  And yet always the problems of horizon and distance, the problems of depth and breadth.  As we begin to traverse the field of vision, the tragedy of our partial knowledge lies behind us.  The distance becomes infinite, each step an illusion of progress and movement.  Our delight in flying comes from the revelation of countryside as sky and sea, from the transcendence we experience over vast spaces.  Yet to see the thin and disappearing signature of the jet is to see the poverty of this flight to omniscience; in each photo appears the grim machinery of the wing.  In the notion of return, of cycle, of the reclamation of landscape, lies the futility and productive possibility of human making.
To walk in the city is to experience the disjuncture of partial vision/partial consciousness.  The narrativity of this walking is believed by a simultaneity we know and yet cannot experience.  As we turn a corner, our object disappears around the next corner.  The sides of the street conspire against us; each attention suppresses a field of possibilities.  The discourse of the city is a syncretic discourse, political in its untranslatability.  Hence the language of the state elides it.  Unable to speak all the city’s languages, unable to speak all at once, the state’s language becomes monumental, the silence of headquarters, t he silence of the bank.  In this transcendent and anonymous silence is the miming of corporate relations.  Between the night workers and the day workers lies the interface of light; in the rotating shift, the disembodiment of lived time.  The walkers of the city travel at difference speeds, their steps the hand-writing of a personal mobility.  In the milling of the crowd is the choking of class relations, the interruption of speed, and the machine.  Hence the barbarism of police on horses, the sudden terror of the risen animal.
Here are three landscapes, landscapes “complete” and broken from one another as a paragraph is.  And at the edge of town, the camp of the gypsies.”

Missing the Ferry Hurts

November 3, 2009

On schedule, it goes in and out.  With no awareness of us — of course, the captain can see us running down the hill and give an extra 30 second pause — the boat can’t see.  There’s no point in me trying to put the blame on the boat anyway.  Rather, i should put it on my watch.  My digital watch that i haven’t let the hour fall back on, so for the past two days I’ve had to subtract an hour, look again, think I’m running late, trick myself into right now.  It’s really all too much — not all days, but — today when i missed the ferry, it hurt.

The window of opportunity to devote a chunk of time to a project was clouded with the thought of getting on the ferry in two hours.  Now, two has turned to four and a half.  I have wasted four and a half hours waiting and missing a boat.  The frustration!  The disappointment! The shame!  The mental effort to place blame elsewhere only to know it can only fall on myself.

7:40 not 7:45.  The phone rang at 7:37 with Cole calling me to say he thought i got on an earlier boat and not to miss this one, he was waiting for me on the other side.  I couldn’t find my right boot!  I had taken it off because i was working on a blister and was trying to decide if a change of socks would help or just some tape around my heel.  I couldn’t find my boot once i decided on tape and this after knowing i needed to run.

What was I doing up until the point of that call?   There’s no mystery.  I had given Heta a shower to get the muck from the beach off her.  I had been watching youtube videos of Waylon Jennings in search of some old country duets.  I had been driving down to the ferry at 645 only to find i hadn’t looked at the schedule right and the boat wasn’t til 7:40.

Why is my timing not in sync with the ferry?  I blame it on getting accustomed to the new time change, and the fact that ghosts move my boots around so i can’t find them when i need them.