Meanwhile, the worst heat of the summer seems to have come yesterday, on the last day of summer (I have always considered August 31st the last day of summer). In the House, the temperature reached 91F. We left, though the heat index outside was something like 97F. We drove to Warwick, and then across the Western Passage and out to Conanicut Island and Beavertail Point. I'd hoped there would be enough of a breeze at Beavertail to offset the heat. But it was still early in the day when we arrived (maybe four p.m.), and there was hardly any breeze at all. The sun seemed to rob everything of color. It was like a hammer, that sun. And, somehow, my heart just wasn't in it, this visit to the sea. I can't recall that ever before having been the case.
We stopped for a little while on the western side of the island. We watched two herring gulls using strands of seaweed to "fish" for crabs. The sea looked wrong. The tide was going out, but the rip currents were strong enough to see. The bay seemed calm, almost flat, but seethed near the rocks in a way I have never seen it move before. It almost seemed to boil, and the whole scene (coupled with the heat and the light) felt somewhat surreal. The coves, where the water is usually crystal clear, were murky with silt and organic detritus. I'm assuming these are all early affects of the hurricane. I know the rip tides are.
We moved on to the lighthouse at the point. More weirdness. In my experience, the waves at the point rush in from the southwest, moving northwest. Yesterday, they were coming from the east, moving west. We sat near the base of the old lighthouse (destroyed by fire on July 22, 1753) for a time, watching the strange waves and getting too much sun. Then we retreated into the tiny "aquarium" inside the current lighthouse (built in 1856). It was much cooler inside, in the dark, lit mainly by the lights inside the tanks. We watched a pool of small shark, spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). There were various other local fish, including Northern puffer fish (Sphoeroides maculatus), and couple of sea robins (Prionotus carolinus), along with various invertebrates— urchins, starfish, horseshoe crabs, et cetera. There was the carapace of huge rare "blue lobster" (not a different species, just a rare morph). Back outside, we sat for a while in the shade of the lighthouse, pretty much the only shade there was to be had.
About five, we gave up and headed back to Providence.
There are photos, behind the cut:
A Del's Lemonade truck in Warwick. Yesterday was the only day all summer we had frozen lemonade.
View towards the lighthouse from the western side of the lighthouse, looking south. The washed out quality of this photograph gives a pretty good idea how the day felt.
View to the west from the western side of the island. The seething sea and blinding sun.
Base of the original lighthouse, view to the east.
The aforementioned "blue lobster."
All photographs Copyright © 2010 by Caitlín R. Kiernan and Kathryn A. Pollnac
Last night, we watched the second film in the Red Riding trilogy, In the Year of Our Lord 1980, this one directed by James Marsh. It wasn't as brilliant as the first film, but still very good. Later, there was WoW. We belatedly began the "Keepers of Time" quests. The "Old Hillsbrad" quest, saving the young Thrall from dragons trying to change the course of history, was really a lot of fun (despite having to be disguised as a human). I read the first few pages of Louis Chiappe's Glorified Dinosaurs: The Origin and Early Evolution of Birds, which came as part of a very wonderful literary care package from Steven Lubold (thank you!). I think I got to sleep a little after four ayem, and, amazingly, slept about eight hours, with the aid of no pills whatsoever.
And that was yesterday.
Today, I have to attend to some email, then get Sirenia Digest #57 laid out and PDF'd. I'll do my best to get it to subscribers by this evening (but it might be early tomorrow). Spooky and I are holed up in my office with Dr. Muñoz the Coolerator, and hopefully we won't melt. It's going to be another scorcher today.