If there are numerous typos in the following, your mind can amuse itself playing copyeditor. Remember, corrections are made to the LJ copy.
We were much later getting up and out today than we'd planned, no doubt because we were so tired last night after doing 12 states in 21 hours on Amtrak. Not long before we left, I made some comment or another about wishing I knew more about the local geology, and Spooky's mother produced two books -- Rhode Island Geology for the Non-Geologist and Rhode Island: The Last Billion Years. I made a delighted sound, thumbed through the latter, and saw that one of the few places in Rhode Island where metamorphic and igneous processes have not destroyed all evidence of fossils is just east of here, at the southern tip of Conanicut Island. We'd had no other specific destination in mind, so that's where we headed. Up to Plum Point and over the Jamestown Bridge to Jamestown, then down to Beavertail State Park. My gods, what beautiful coastline. I know I'll write a story set there someday, so I'll say only a few things now.
We parked near the lighthouse as a heavy mist was rolling in from the Sound. The sun became a bright smudge lost in the haze and it grew cooler (the day had been much warmer than yesterday). We poked about the dramatic exposures of the Middle Cambrian-aged (about 550 million years old) Jamestown Formation, hoping to see a trilobite or two. Trilobites from this location are important, because they are identical to African species of Middle Cambrian age and bear little resemblance to species seen elsewhere in New England, providing evidence of continental drift. But it was hard to think about fossils. The smell of salt water and wild flowers, the crash of the waves on the rocks. Spooky found some quartz and pyrite crystals, but that was really the extent of our geologizing. There were periwinkes and blue mussels on the rocks, in tide pools, and washed up here and there. Just offshore, a couple of double-crested cormorants were fishing, their snakey necks occassionally appearing above the surface like minature plesiosaurs. We climbed down into a little cove just below the crumbling foundation of the original lighthouse, where the water was crystal clear and green. I took off my shoes and waded in. The water was cold and my feet began to numb almost at once.
I had a moment there, and I expect it's something I'll write about in the next novel. An intense awareness that I stood at the edge of the continent, between the land and sea and sky. It was dizzying and a little frightening, sad and joyful and utterly exhilirating. I gasped. I shut my eyes and opened them again. I laughed out loud.
There were birds everywhere on the island, and I wished Poppy were there to see them. Besides the cormorants, we saw red-winged blackbirds, robins, barn swallows, a grackle, two species of gull (as best I can tell, Herring and Greater Black-Backed gulls), ravens, and a largish egret (I'm not sure of the species). There were also rabbits, and rabbits, and more rabbits.
There was a small "aquarium" attached to the lighthouse, actually a collection of little tanks that kind of reminded me of the trailer I wrote in "Postcards from the King of Tides." We looked at sea robins and a well-hidden flounder and saw some absolutely enormous lobster remains (I have pictures of the later, which I promise to post eventually). Can you even imagine the claws a 29-pound lobster would have?
We left Beavertail and drove over to Fort Wetherill State Park on the other side of Mackerel Cove. By this time, the fog was getting very heavy, turning afternoon to twilight. I skipped stones and we walked about the old WWII fortifications. Then we circled the entire perimeter of Conanicut Island before heading back west, across the bridge. We drove south to Narragansett, then on to Galilee, where we had fish and clam cakes at Georges. I think we were starving after all the fresh air and clambering about on rocks. We ate in the back of the van outside the restaurant, and it was very pleasant, except for the obese, garishly dressed tourists and some idiot with a guitar playing Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor songs. After dinner, we drove through the fog and failing daylight all the way to Westerly and down to Watch Hill Point. But it was so cold and dark and misty we gave up looking for the lighthouse after we found the Flying Horse Carousel (built in the late 19th century and still spinning kids about in circles).
Tomorrow I think we'll drive into Providence and spend the day looking at Lovecraft-related sites and such-like, though I'm sorely tempted to head straight back to Beavertail and that little cove below the lighthouse.