June 29th, 2004



When I was younger, I thought nothing of clamboring about on precarious rockfaces and in quarries. I was studying to be a paleontologist, so it's what I did. But I've spent the last twelve years or so sitting on my butt writing, and I was truly very pleasantly surprised yesterday to learn how much agility I've retained. We drove back out to Beavertail, because I didn't get nearly enough of it the first time, and we wanted another shot at finding the trilobite-bearing layers. There was no mist, but we walked farther north, towards Lion Head, scrambling over the metamorphosed shales (phyllites) of the Jamestown Formation, warped and folded during the Alleghanian orogeny (about 275 million years ago). We didn't reach the fossiliferous beds, but we did get a great work-out. The sun was bright, the wind strong and clean, and we paused at deep, clear tidal pools filled with various species of sea weed. There were the usual blue mussels and periwinkles and other snails. At and below the water line, the great, tilted layers of rock were covered with millions of tiny barnacles (Northern Rock Barnacle, Chthalamus fragilis). I took off my shoes and waded in. Once again, the water was so cold my feet quickly began to numb. I'd love to snorkel in some of these pools, but I'd definitely need a wet suit. There were gulls and cormorants and mallards. We were almost alone out there, passing only a few other people.

Afterwards, we stopped at a Del's Lemonade truck parked at Mackerel Cove Beach, I had my first Del's. It's sort of like a lemon Slushy, only much better. But I still have to try Coffee Milk, the RI State Drink.

We left Conanicut Island and drove into Providence, out to Swan Point Cemetery where Lovecraft is buried. I visited Swan Point in June of 2000, and that visit inspired "So Runs the World Away." Also, that's the day I found the name Narcissa Snow on one of the cemetery's monuments. Yesterday, I left a small toy frog on Lovecraft's headstone, just like before. There weren't so many other offerings this time. My first visit, there were coins and stones and a couple of long, hand-written letters. The custodians must clear all those things away from time to time.We made of rubbing of the headstone, then wandered about the cemetery (which will appear prominently in Daughter of Hounds), taking video and stills, finding names (though the names in Swan Point aren't nearly so good as the names over in the Old North). Spooky spent a lot of time in Swan Point when she was in college. We hung around until it closed at 7 p.m., then headed over to the Ladd Observatory (where Lovecraft indulged his childhood fascination for astronomy) and sat for a while, watching the sun start to set. We stopped by a Whole Foods, and Spooky found the long-sought-after ginger Altoids. There was much rejoicing. We headed south along Route 2, through Exeter. At some point, we passed near to the spot where the "vampire" Mercy Brown was buried and her heart burned.

There was so much more. I'm skimming.

Here are a few photos from yesterday, and then I have to get dressed and get out of here:

This one was taken Sunday at the Roger Williams Museum of Natural History. Spooky says the bear needs a fez. I agree.

I'm not kidding, the water here is cold.

Rocks from the Age of Trilobites!

At Lovecraft's grave. "I Am Providence." My batrachian gift is visible to the left.

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