First, Sirenia Digest #30.1 has now gone out to subscribers. It differs in no significant way from #30, except that it includes Vince's illustration for "Rappaccini's Dragon," which I neglected to include in the first version of May's issue. It's the first time an artist has reproduced one of Albert Perrault's dreadful paintings, though they have figured — more or less prominently — in at least four of my stories, beginning, I believe, with "The Road of Pins." Also, please have a look at kambriel's Unexpected Moving Sale. You will find many a wonderful notion, have no doubt. My thanks to Greg Fox for the photos he sent me yesterday of Charles Fort's grave at Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York. Another place I have to visit very, very soon. Also, there's been quite a positive review of Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy in Locus. It's far too long for me to quote in its entirety, but has this to say about "The Steamdancer (1896)," my contribution to the anthology:
...an effective steampunk sketch of a crippled woman who obtains new life from her artificial eye and limbs, ugliness made beauty for many a kinkily lustful eye...
Okay. Now back to the events of yesterday. Though the weather was cold, windy, and wet, I needed to have my first firsthand look at the Moosup Valley/Barbs Hill Road area, south of Foster, in western Rhode Island, the area that is the setting for The Red Tree. So, we headed west through North Scituate, turning onto 102 at Chopmist, which we followed south to Plainfield Pike, which, in turn, took us to Moosup Valley Road. Unfortunately, the old Tyler Library, which I'd wanted to have a better look at, is closed on Thursdays. Instead, we stopped to have a look at the pond behind the cemetery across the street from the library, as it will be one of the models for the novel's fictional "Ramswool Pond." At once, we were astounded at a truly amazing amount of scat littering the soggy, sandy ground. I guessed we were seeing raccoon droppings, but the only tracks I could locate were those of a very large species of anseriformid bird. As we marveled at the acres of poo, two Canadian geese (Branta canadensis) flew by overhead. Clearly, a very large flock of geese had stopped at the pond shortly before our arrival. We walked about the place for a bit, noting plants, birds, a beaver-notched tree, and what we could see of the local geology. But the great quantities of goose scat were, to say the least, off-putting, and we soon left. We did spot a goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), happily bathing in the stream flowing from the pond into the marshes at the edge of the Moosup River. Inspired by Edward Gorey's The Deranged Cousins; or Whatever., we christened the pond "The Goose's Restroom," then got back into the car and headed south along Barbs Hill Road. In the summer, the country in this part of the state seems truly wild, the fern-fringed macadam road vaulted by an incredibly green and shadowy forest of second-growth pines, maples, and oaks. There were skunk cabbages, wild grapes, green briers, honeysuckle, daisy fleabane, cowslip — I didn't keep a list of all the flora. Maybe next trip. We saw several farmhouses along the road, some dating back to the 18th Century. There was a small herd of goats, and a couple of collies. We crossed the Moosup River again near where it empties into Briggs Pond, pausing there on the bridge for a bit.
The long, curving road ends at Rice City and Vaughn Hollow, and we headed east again, to visit Spooky's mother at her parents' farm near the University of Rhode Island (where her father is a professor and department head; he's currently doing work in some faraway place I cannot now recall). It was the first time we'd had a chance to stop by her parent's place since we arrived. We played with Spider (a truly enormous cat), looked through photographs of Spooky's great-grandmother and grandmother (her mom's engaged in an elaborate geneological project involving the letters of Margaret Russell —— née, Winslow —— Spooky's great-grandmother, who left Appleton, WI, and moved away to the wilds of South Dakota in the first decade of the 20th Century). We got fresh eggs and a number of other things that we needed (all our pots and pans being on a moving truck somewhere*), then headed back to Providence. I think we got home about 7 pm. Here are some photos, behind the cut:
Goose tracks. On the wetter ground, the webbing was plainly visible.
"The Goose's Restroom," which will serve as one of the model's for Ramswool Pond.
Stones in the stream flowing out of "The Goose's Restroom."
Barbs Hill Road, near where The Red Tree will be set.
One of the many very old houses that will serve as models for the house in the novel.
My thanks for the amazing number of comments yesterday. There were even MySpace comments, which are rare, in my experience. Most everyone who commented was of the opinion that I shouldn't censor myself for fear of alienating readers, though many also understood my fears and thought them justified. At any rate, I'm thinking the whole matter over, and, in the meanwhile, will say that I am very relieved that Hillary Clinton has finally bowed out of the race for the Democratic nomination. Also, I'll point you towards this article on the impending demise of the SUV, Hummer, and other conspicuously obscene gas-guzzlers, as sales plummet and auto manufacturers move towards smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. Also, note that "Republicans have blocked efforts to bring a global warming bill up for a final Senate vote after a bitter debate over its economic costs and whether it would push gasoline prices higher." The proposed bill "...would cap carbon dioxide coming from power plants and factories with a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 71 percent by mid-century."** On the one hand, these bastards are shortsighted idiots, worrying about gas prices while the planet bakes and melts and sea levels rise. And on the other, even if the bill were to be passed and enforced, given how far global warming has already advanced, and all the other nations that won't enact such legislation, the U.S. lowering emissions to 71% of present levels by 2050 would be much too little, much too late. By then...well, you'll see, if you should live so long. Meanwhile, please check out 350.org.
* Our moving coordinator at United Van Lines called while I was typing this, and we're expecting our belongings to arrive between 4-5 pm this evening.
** Quotations from the Associated Press.