Just when you think you can’t take another shred of bad news, when NPR starts pissing you off, when work leaves you feeling uncertain and confused, when facebook reminds you that you pretty much suck because you aren’t jumping at the chance to dump a bucket of icewater over your head, the universe opens and drops in more crap to make you more sad than ever. That was this week. You were there. You know what I’m talking about.
What do you do with a week like this one? Do you get under the covers and just want to die? Or do you work like mad to distract and forget?
I get lazy, mostly. If it wasn’t for upcoming stuff, namely, getting to see my brother in October in Portland for the Portland OR Marathon, I probably would have blown off most everything this week. As it was, I was reminded of the incredible fragile nature of this planet and all of us on it, and got out to do some appreciative sightseeing of it. On Tuesday night, Tom met me at the Kingston Train Station and we ran down in to Great Swamp.
This is an overgrown and vibrant, hyper-verdant management area in South Kingstown that features all kinds of interesting wildlife, including mosquitoes, and holds a history of bloodshed. And not just by mosquitoes. It is very quiet here, and maybe a little haunted. Since my runs of late have been sluggish, it was nice to push the pace trying to keep up with Tom.
As I ran along, I thought about how good it is to run, that it helps my heavy, sad-this-week brain. I know it helps Tom’s. With the sun peeking through the clouds, spotting two great blue herons – one lifting off directly in front of us – I felt connected. Like I had a purpose. What kind of purpose? I don’t know. I wasn’t put on this earth to walk and run on it, but maybe we are all here as part-and-parcel cells of it, and sometimes, we need to connect back to Big Mama.
In stark contrast to Tuesday night’s run, Thursday night’s along Atlantic Avenue at Misquamicut Beach was an eye-opener, also featuring all kinds of interesting wildlife of an altogether different sort. Apparently, Thursday nights are fun drunk nights at Misquamicut. Still, we were fairly safe seeing as we were running alongside it, not stuck in some patio bar between all those muscles and Banana-Boat and tiki drinks. From afar, it always looks fun, right?
Right. So, Georgia and I ran along, and we got whistled at. Hooted at. Like, three times. Once, by a car-full of boys no older than 16. I think they were quite alarmed when they turned around and saw that we were old enough to be their mothers.
I also couldn’t help but note that if Tom had been with us, we wouldn’t be getting hooted at.
But in a way it was my fault. I was the one who said no, let’s not go through Watch Hill, where the rich pinot-grigio drunks go on Thursday night. Let’s go where the regular drunks go.
Thankfully, this section of Misquamicut lasts only (a very long) two miles, eventually crossing into quieter Weekapaug. At the bridge, five or six teenagers acted “normal” while a police car cruised slowly by, and then proceeded to mount the railing to jump off into the breachway. It was a hot night and if I was 13, I probably would have joined them.
Up through quiet Weekapaug, the ocean in the distance. The houses are smaller than the Newport or Watch Hill mansions here. Still, stiff white shirt lawns and precise gardens, though. Maybe they have enough for a gardener. But there are real live dog-walking people who are maybe tourists, but long-time, several-weeks tourists.
More old family salt than New York money. Outside of a chapel on Noyes neck road, about fifty beach bicycles lay helter-skelter on the lawn. A Thursday night dinner. Folks in khaki and plaid milled about with paper plates and plastic cups. Georgia said, “We should crash it.” I said, “We smell.” We laughed and continued on, inhaling the sweet scent of rosehip. As we headed back to Georgia’s house, I thought once again how incredibly lucky I am to creep upon the surface of this planet.
Friday, after a half day at work feeling like I couldn’t put my head around a problem, I pulled a hookie and left early to get out to Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge in West Greenwich, RI, with my friend Marci.
There is no jogging allowed here. So Marci and I settled for a nice long hike. We spent the first fifteen minutes chatting and catching up with each other, until we were sort of stunned into a quieter mutual meditation. This place is pretty amazing. Beautiful trails feel like somewhere else. Once again, you can throw a whole bunch of crap at us humans and then send us out in to the woods and it all gets better.
Sometimes, you want to be around people, or at least see what they are up to. On Saturday night, Tom and I decided that we wanted marinated ribeye, and THE place to get marinated ribeye in Hope Valley is Ma n Pa’s on Main Street. Their ribeyes are enough to make a grown man cry. So we decided to ride our bikes there. Being another incredibly beautiful evening, the 7 miles down there seemed too short. We extended our ride to circle by the Washington Country Fairgrounds to traffic-watch (it is unusual to see traffic around here, so WOW!) A long line of cars down route 112 with country music of various ilk coming from truck stereos. You could feel the excitement. Saturday night is the last night of the fair and people here take this shit very seriously. We have been once or twice and it was very swamp-yankee summer. So no stopping as we strung past the line of cars past the fairgrounds entrance and finally (ahhhhh…) back to quiet old roads. We then took a circuitous route along the turf farms of Switch Road back to Main Street to get our steaks and a pint of coffee ice cream, all of which got stuffed into jersey pockets for the rest of the ride home. Back at home, Tom built an “artisanal fire” and we sat looking up at the stars all night. From the back of this little blue marble in space.
No matter how cruddy the news gets, and the facebook gets, and the fighting, and the greed, and the hypocritical nastiness, it is sometimes quite comforting to me to realize that all of us come from and go back to the same stuff. It is imperative – I would say it is our duty – to examine the home we are living on every once in awhile.
Maybe if more people got outside more often, there’d be a little less crap, and a little more love, and bad news wouldn’t hurt so much.