Tuesday, April 15, 2003

On Boats, Beaches, And The Air

Spent the last two days in transit, mostly -- about eight hours behind the wheel. Not much to say about driving except it's gotten lonelier since Darcie started riding alongside the baby; on the bright side, I can listen to my music louder, as long as I turn the speakers off in the back. We drove south and east and west and north again in the blue Camry, Darcie spotting cars from the back seat when passing -- the passenger side mirror's still missing from when I cracked it off on my parent's driveway fence over March break. Once a cranky rider, Willow's getting better at entertaining herself, and spent much of our motion laughing at her toes.

As usual, it was the geographically static hours which were noteworthy.

First stop was Mystic Seaport, an an active living history museum with 17 acres of exhibits. We hoisted the baby into her hiking backpack, met up with Darcie's parents and her brother Josh and his long-time girlfriend Clay, and the seven of us spent a frankly lovely morning treading the planks and holds of old whaling boats and trawlers, singing the shanties of the old-time fisherman. Admission was free for Educator's Day, a sly ploy to spark interest in field trips during an otherwise dead start of season at the mostly outdoor boatyards and reconstructed village; with four teachers among us (Patty, Neil, Darcie and I) , it made for a nice family excursion in the unseasonable spring sun.

The town of Mystic (the real, modern town) looked nice, but it was too crowded and narrow for parking; we skipped it, and went another four miles to Stonington, which my mother had recommended as a "nice walking town." Stonington was mostly closed-or-closing antique stores, but a bit off the town and along an ocean pier behind the main buildings was an excellent find, a brunch-serving seafood place with a real live dixieland band. I got woozy off the sun and a pint of Longtrail on the deck while we waited for a table, but managed to enjoy my creamy lobster bisque and an excellent Oscar Benedict (crabmeat, asparagus, poached eggs and hollandaise on an english muffin) nonetheless.

Back to switch cars again -- we had condensed from three to two for our lunch excursion. Patty and Neil headed back to Vermont for a Monday at work, but we were off an extra day for midterm break, and after three years or more of Clay-in-the-family despite no other official status than "Josh's girlfriend" were eager to see Clay's house by the sea across the border in Rhode Island. We were surprised to find that the house, three-season residence that rents as a vacation home for $600 a week in the summer tourist boom, had exactly the same layout and dimensions of our own apartment: two bedrooms sidebyside across from a single common room and open kitchenette. Clay, a senior in Oceanographic Geology at University of Rhode Island, had homework to do, so after an excellent late supper at a funky juice bar in nearby Naraganset where they actually put their gorgonzola and sauteed onions in the middle of their burgers, the almost-sunburned baby went to bed with Darcie, and Clay and I sipped some Bailey's Irish Cream on ice (tastes kind of like chocolate-flavored egg nog, for the uninitiated) and hit the hay.

We left early, all of us at once, the next morning. A few chilly minutes on the not-yet-sunwarmed beach down the road and a diner breakfast, the best kind: homemade corned beef hash and eggs over easy, a banana for the baby, in Naraganset again. And then back to Connecticut and Mystic for round two at the Mystic Aquarium. Mystic's Aquarium deserves its excellent reputation, and the website speaks for itself; I will note only here that the soapwhite beluga whales are stunning, the concave sealife viewing portals inspired and immersive, and the baby thrilled to be able to take a few tottering steps at the end of my arms to flat tanks of crabs and lobsters at her own eye level.

Back home, via Northampton and a peasant sandwich lunch, before five; Ginny arrived an hour later with the dog on her lap, its head eager out the window. The sounds of students in the dormitory hall outside our kitchen door back to its usual roar, we left a bit before nine for a tutoring session with a student that never showed and then, as always, our Monday night radio program Tributary. As always, playlist follows; I was, it seems, feeling pretty funky.

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Kool and the Gang -- Funky Stuff
Beck -- Where It's At
Oysterhead -- Shadow of a Man
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Nut Monkey
Biscuit Boys -- Ramblin' Fever
Manu Chao -- Bongo Bong
Negativeland -- Yellow Black and Rectangular
Suzanne Vega -- Small Blue Thing
Cesaria Evora -- Sodade
Many Mann and Michael Penn -- Two Of Us
Robbie Fulks -- He Needs Her Now
Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks -- He Don't Care
Missa Luba -- Kyrie
Barenaked Ladies -- Jane
Billy Bragg and Wilco -- My Flying Saucer
Herbie Hancock -- Pygmy Flute and Soul Jazz
Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Des'ree -- Ain't No Sunshine
Phish -- If I Could
Alison Krauss -- Every Time You Say Goodbye
Jorma Kaukonen -- Waiting for a Train
Lyle Lovett -- Fly Swatter, Ice Water Blues
Shawn Colvin -- Tenderness on the Block
Salamander Crossing -- Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow
String Cheese Incident -- Up The Canyon
Ani Difranco -- As Is
Take 6 -- Mary
John Gorka -- Love Is Our Cross To Bear

posted by boyhowdy | 1:04 AM |

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