Normally I blog about faraway places, but I am thinking of the peaceful shores of my childhood today. Apparently Irene caused 8 foot waves at Bonnet Shores, RI. Children of the 60’s from Rhode Island do not actually remember Hurricane Carol or Bob, but many of us feel like we do because of the stories our parents and grandparents told us.  The details of Bob and Carol and the New York blackout may get jumbled in our minds — Nana was stuck on a train, right? Or maybe that the time that we all got snowed in and Papa played the harmonica — but we live in the shadow of  “the great gales” as an overall gestalt.  It is knowing that everything can get washed away.  It is also knowing that this usually doesn’t happen…. except once a generation or so, when it DOES happen.

Some Rhode Island hurricane stories:

Will Bonnet Shore and our house wash away?  I don’t really think so.  But this possibility is EVERYWHERE in the news (just got a concerned note from a young colleague in Ethiopia who is worried about my family!!!), which makes me remember the little things. Opening the house each summer, washing curtains and baseboards and windows.   The sensation of floating in bed after  jumping the waves all day.  Taking family photos beside the pink flamingos!  And the time my sister and I tried to make fossils by burying a dead fish between two pieces of slate. Nana waved goodbye from the porch and always seem to be wearing red.

Of course, it was not all fun and games. Sometimes my sister did not want to play with me, or it was too cold to swim. Then I would follow my mother around, go to the beach to collect shells and rocks, brood. Sometime in my 10th year I decided to toss my ashes here, off Bonnet Point.

Years later I would walk the beach with my own babies (now teenagers) in my arms.  They play with “the cousins” on the same rocks.  The minnows and hermit crabs they catch are very likely descendants of the ones that I caught 30 years before. It can seem that none of this will ever change.  But, Irene aside, I know that larger life forces like time and wind and rain will come into play eventually.

The house is being put up for sale, my parents can’t manage the upkeep anymore.  My firstborn will go off to college soon.  We will treasure memories of this beach, jumble them …. walk other shores together and separately.  I feel a huge wave rising inside me… But now they are saying that Irene is milder than she seemed.  People are coming out of their homes, walking along Narragansett Pier.  So never mind about all this, the storm has passed.

It looks like we may get to spend one more summer at the beach….

Posted with love from the land of tornados…. Hope everyone stays safe!