Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Reprieve from Hell

A statue in my garden that I've deemed a Poor Clare sister. She keeps all beings company and is a friend to all.

We had loaded up the little red rental car and were on our way to the aquarium. We needed to get out of the house early in the day--rain was forecast for the afternoon and being inside all day would have meant a tense evening (for me!).
We saw the red tail hawk as we pulled out of the driveway and I stopped the car. She was huge against the deep blue of the sky and was being harassed by 3 of the resident crows. They were doing a dance known only to them. One crow would fly from behind the hawk, swoop beneath her, then pull up so close in front of her face that I was sure they would crash. But they never did. The crows took turns flying this maneuver and we sat in rapt attention.
Soon, swallows, swifts, and sparrows joined in the chase. The hawk never panicked, she just kept gliding. The crows lost interest and faded into the tree tops and Niles noticed one brave sparrow was riding the hawk's back. Sure enough, as we continued to watch, that sparrow would fly over the hawk and land on her shoulders for seconds at a time, then lift off, circle around and do it again! I've seen the photos online of larger birds doing this but have never seen it firsthand. We talked about what we had witnessed almost the entire trip!

We've escaped the torture of Summer in south central Texas and ended up in a bright green and deep blue paradise. We're back in Newport, Rhode Island for the summer. Back to where weather is a kind and gentle partner in life and not out to kill every living thing. Where we sleep with open windows and under comforters at night. When at the height of the afternoon, when the temperatures are at their highest (high 70s!) we have a choice of beaches to visit...

We visited the Newport Art Museum and giggled as we walked up the stairs to the second floor. Paintings of people long gone decorated the walls and Lillie (or Brent... or Niles) mentioned it felt like Hogwarts (the wizard/witch school in Harry Potter) except the paintings weren't moving or talking...

The kids and I took a touristy walk and ended up near some of our favorite shops by the water. I've seen beautiful photographs of boats and cannot seem to catch the same magic. The shops hug the pier and it's unusual to this landlubber to see masts and hulls against the backdrop of shops and restaurants.

OH the flowers that are in bloom here!! I have gasped at the huge flower clusters of hydrangeas and stolen deep smells of the wild rugosa roses at the beaches. But I adore the stands of daisies that are tucked here and there. These are not the short ones either--some are 5' tall!!! I am currently trying to muster the wherewithal to knock on a particular resident's door down the street and ask if I can cut a bunch for our place. It's the small things (or in this case, the tall things) that put me in Place.
I think everyone has that memory they've stored to access when they need a smile or a good feeling... or just embrace the grace and magic that put you in that one place in that one moment. Who can be down when they're looking at a cluster of smiling daisies? They remind me of summer and warmth and sunshine and pastures and horses and hay... Perhaps I will take a photo of the gardens the next time we ride our bikes.

We went to the Newport Kite Festival last weekend and this is my favorite photo of all that I took. We intended to stay just a little while and ended up staying all day long. A wily wind rider in an otherwise serene sky...

There is a hill where professional fliers were able to perform and do demonstrations. Below the hill were vendors and fields for everyone to fly their kites. I spent most of the day on the hill photographing the pros. In the afternoon, I took a walk down the hill and couldn't help but smile. There were families all over the place flying kites. Strings held children's wonder and parent's memories of their own childhood. It was an amazing feeling. Kites make people look UP. Everyone looks up... a whole community looking skyward.

On another walk the kids and I found the most amazing Tibetan shop. It smelled delicious and we touched every single item in there. I couldn't help take several photos... while I can't remember exactly the stories the guy there told me about the hierarchy of entities, the whole place was magical.

At the beach. The wind was blowing something awful and we hunkered down against the fence. I looked to the side and couldn't help but take a pic--hope this one ends up in my art. As if the the fence held back the grasses.
Thing is, it was very bright outside, I didn't have my glasses on, and I couldn't see the face of my phone. Basically I shot this blind, hoping the end result was the same as what I had in my mind. And it was.

Watching Niles fly his kite. The wind is gentle, almost too gentle to fly a kite. The sail boats are out in the ocean and the sun is in decline. I lay in the cool sweet grass and am often called upon to untangle string and launch grounded kites. Ahhh the life I live!!

As Niles flew his kite, Lillie and I went sea glass hunting along the shore line. We didn't find a lot of sea glass but did stumble across the Secret Beach of Miniature Shells. Immediately I began collecting the ones that had the curves worn off, exposing the inside spiral. Many began looking a lot like the chambers of the heart--yes, you do hear art in the making!!! The tide was coming in and collecting became a race of getting the perfect shell before the water washed it to another location.

We took a long bike ride after our morning refreshments at our favorite coffee house. We explored a dock where crab traps were stacked 10' tall (I secretly wished them all rendered useless) and explored neighborhoods we hadn't seen before. The streets were very narrow but the homes were all very colorful. I stopped in the middle of the street and took this photo--while it is in black and white, imagine the trees the most beautiful green you've ever seen, the bluest skies, and each home a different color--slate blue, butter yellow, coral, teal, midnight blue, red.... and the flowers--phlox, freesias, daisies, day lilies, roses, hydrangeas--in all colors... a riot!!!

I feel our time here is slipping by faster than I can fathom. There is talk of perhaps relocating here and the thought terrifies me and excites me at the same time. But for now, we relish and embrace everything Newport has to offer.