Yesterday, we left Providence about one p.m., and drove north, past Boston, to Salem. Along the road, only the willows seemed to be greening. There were red splotches of cranberry bogs. We spent part of the afternoon exploring witchcraft shops (an annoying number of which were closed). We found a couple that were not too touristy and not of the airy-fairy, fluffy-bunny variety, which was refreshing. Places that weren't terrified of the "left path." Some old guy on the street, wearing so many pentagrams I lost count, showed us we were holding the map of Salem upside down. We drove past the House of the Seven Gables and Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace, but it was already late, and we didn't stop. On the waterfront, we saw a huge sailing ship, Friendship of Salem. The city has a strange effect on me. Salem, I mean. On the one hand, there's all the tacky Disneyesque crap, the wax museums, the "haunted tours," and whatnot. And then there's the history of the trials (which has a lot less to do with witchcraft than with mass hysteria and general intolerance). And then there's the sense that, ironically, Salem draws genuine practitioners of various occult traditions. And the end result, in my head, is a weird clash, an almost dizzying sort of cognitive dissonance.
Late in the afternoon, we drove down to Marblehead. I wish I could see Marblehead as it was a hundred or a hundred and fifty years ago, before it was prettied up and gentrified. The tide was out, and just as the sun was setting, we found a marvelous rocky cove on Front Road. Later, back home, I learned that it's called Fort Seawall Cove. There was a seawall. The beach here reminded me of Ireland, in and around Dublin, which no other New England beach has ever really done. There was beach glass everywhere. Great clumps of bladder wrack, huge mounds of snail and mussel shells. Tilted beds of Precambrian granite. We stayed almost until dark, and left reluctantly. I think we made it home about 8:30 p.m.
Here are three photos from yesterday:
Friendship of Salem
Fort Seawall Cove, looking out across Marblehead Harbor towards Salem Sound. View to the northeast. Lighthouse Point is visible across the water.
Again, Fort Seawall Cove, but view to the north. The island known as Children's Rock is visible at the mouth of Marblehead Harbor.
And I should repost links to the latest round of eBay auctions and, also, to Emma the Beltane Bunneh.