Tomorrow, dream zombies or no, Spooky and I head back to Atlanta.
As for the remainder of Sunday (and my apologies for the missed entry), there really wasn't much worth recounting. Late in the day, we drove into Providence, had dinner on Thayer Street, then spent a couple of hours strolling about College Hill. Much of Daughter of Hounds will be set in that neighbourhood, and I've been trying to put in all the time there that I can. There was one peculiar thing, near the southern edge of the RISD campus: dangling from a very high limb of a rather tall tree was an object evidently meant to represent a bloody, severed human head. A red ribbon exited its mouth, wrapped a couple of times about the supporting limb, and ended in a black VHS tape. We stood there a bit, marveling that someone could have made it up the tree to place the severed head (there were no lower limbs, and high limbs would have made tossing it from a nearby rooftop impossible). It got me to thinking about zombies again, and I wondered aloud whether this was someone's absurd attempt at art or a warning or maybe a very creative (and grisly) "dear john" letter.
Yesterday, which I believe was Monday, we were up early and, despite the rain, headed for Massachusetts. One of my main objectives on this trip was to reach Ipswich and follow the Argilla Road northeast to the place where I believe Lovecraft meant the doomed seaport of Innmouth to lie, at the mouth of the Castle Neck River (Manuxet to Lovecraft). The constant reader will recall that this was also the location I chose for the house where Narcissa Snow was raised by her grandfather (Low Red Moon), that long spit of sand known as Crane Beach. This obession began back in October 2001, when I was working on an Innsmouth-related short story, "From Cabinet 34, Drawer 6," and began trying to locate Innsmouth using Lovecraft's narrative and various reference sources. Go back to my entry of November 16, 2001 (LJ readers follow this link to the blog) for details and an account of my thoughts on the subject. My conclusions -- that Innmouth was fashioned from bits of Newburyport and Gloucester, then placed at the mouth of the Castle Neck -- agree with those of certain other writers, such as Jack Morgan (The Biology of Horror, 2002) and, as I learned a few days ago, researching at the Athenaeum, the author of The H. P. Lovecraft Companion (1977). And though I was fairly certain of my reckoning, I've always wanted a degree of visiual confirmation.
We took I-95 around Boston and into New Hampshire, driving out to Hampton Beach before turning south on 1A through Salisbury, Newburyport, and Rowley to Ipswich. We paused in Ipswich, to walk through the Old Burying Ground, which includes the oldest surviving headstone in America (1634). It was still raining, light rain and heavy mist, but we walked up steep, uneven, titled stone steps to the top of the cemetery. From that vantage point, we could look back down on the cemetery and High Street, and west to the wooded, fog-shroudedd hills beyond. After a wrong turn that led us through a salf marsh to the down dump, we asked directions at a gas station. We crossed the Ipswich River and followed Argilla Road to the spot where it ends at the sea.
To the south of us, the marshes and islands at the mouth of the Castle Neck River (i.e., Manuxet) spread out flat and green, seeming almost impenetrable. In the near distance, Choate Island rose from the marshes, studded with old trees and shadows. We left the car and, walking east, crossed the dunes on foot, then followed Crane Beach south and east for a mile or so.
The sky was still spitting rain, there was a strong, chilly wind (from the northwest, I think), and a heavy mist covered everything. The beach was littered with several species of seaweed (Southern Kelp, Sea Lettuce, Irish Moss, and at least a half dozen other forms), washed up in clumps across the sand. There were mermaid's purses and the dismembered arms and legs of crabs, the shells of razor clams and many other mollusks. There were gulls, of course, as well as Piping Plovers and terns. We took off our shoes, rolled up our pants, and waded in the freezing surf. We passed two fisherman, standing maybe thirty yards out in the shallows, casting lines. I found broken bits of sand-dollar tests, which made it impossible not to think of Narcissa as a child, picking the beach with Aldous. I found the place in the dunes where the Snow house would have been. Off to the north and east, across Ipswich Bay, the southern tip of Plum Island was a distant blue ghost.
It was all perfect, and the best end for this long trip that I could have asked for.
The day left us exhausted and wet, but determined to return to Ipswich and Crane Beach for further explorations. I have been to Innsmouth.
There would be photos with this post, but my ftp programme has been rendered inaccessible. But I'll upload them after we're back in Atlanta, and I no longer have to rely on flakey dial-up connections.