The insomnia came again last night, but I resisted the urge to take Ambien.
But, as for yesterday...
I didn't get anything written. The insomnia and the effects of the Ambien conspired to muddle my head, and I decided it would be better to spend the day on research, instead. So, we drove down to Green Hill, just west of Moonstone Beach. Green Hill is the setting for "Teratophobia," and I wanted to get more of a feel for the place.
The beach is wonderful at Green Hill. The Permian-aged granite beds known as the Narragansett Pier Plutonic Suite is exposed here, so, unlike Moonstone, it's a rocky beach. The sun was bright, and there was hardly any wind at all, so the day was warm for November. We parked at the end of Green Hill Beach Road (41°21'56.47"N, 71°35'59.94"W) and walked east, all the way to the shore below the end of Green Hill Avenue ( 41°21'55.67"N, 71°35'39.78"W). The tide was very low when we arrived, and it had left behind many things, including hundreds of starfish. Indeed, in places, the stranded dead and dying starfish formed a veritable carpet among the boulders. I can only imagine how bad the stench would have been on a hot summer's day. They were all of a single species, Asterias forbesii, so far as I could see. Assuming this stranding must occur once or twice daily, I'm guessing the starfish population off the beach at Green Hill must be enormous.
The lingering effects of the 1996 oil spill are more in evidence here than at Moonstone. At many places, a rubbery mat of congealed oil remains between the rocks. In some spots, it's at least half an inch thick, black (or dark grey) and slippery. Regardless, the birds, fish, and invertebrates appear to have rebounded quite well.
I sat on the sand and made notes. We found spiny purple urchins (Arbacia punctulata) and moon shells (Lunatia heros). We found the remains of at least one small shark (a dogfish, either Squalus acanthias or Mustelis canis), bits of lobster and horseshoe crabs, bones from the wing of a herring gull. There was a small flock of sanderlings (Calidris alba), along with the usual cormorants. There were oysters and clams, periwinkles and mussels.
Though my feet have been bad again lately, and I'm having to use my walking stick, we managed to walk the better part of a mile, when all was said and done. It was a fine day, and we didn't leave the beach until the sun began to set. Heading back to the car, we found a trail of weasel tracks in the sand and followed them until they vanished in the grass. I think we got home around 6:30 p.m. I was sort of amazed to see that we'd taken 89 photographs, which means I have images with which to adorn the journal for the next few days, even if I only post half of them. There are fifteen behind the cut:
I would so live in this house, even though it's really too near the beach for its own good. View to the west.
Green Hill Beach; view to the west, towards Charlestown Beach.
A mermaid's purse (the egg case of a skate).
View to the east.
Here we see the folly of building a house on a beach; view to the north.
The oily mat of hydrocarbons left behind by the oil spill of '96.
One of the multitude of stranded starfish.
Green seaweed on a rock, and I cannot help but think of hair.
The remains of a small spider crab (Libinia emgarinata).
Weedy rocks. View to the southeast.
Snails on the rocks.
The cartilaginous neurocranium of a dogfish.
A large moonshell (Gastropoda) washed up on the sand.
The decaying pectoral fin of a dogfish.
View to the south. Block Island, nine miles away, is clearly visible on the horizon.
All photographs Copyright © Caitlin R. Kiernan and Kathryn A. Pollnac