Monday, May 26, 2008

A Sunny Day, a Happy Weekend

Memorial Day when I was growing up included a big parade up Washington Street in Coventry, Rhode Island.

Uncle Rollo would put on his admiral's uniform with all the gold "scrambled eggs" on the visor of his hat and join Benjamin Franklin Tefft and the other two members of the Kentish Guard who were still alive for a ride from Anthony Green to the Town Hall.

They all rode in a covertible waving to the crowds of children, parents, and teenagers lining both sides of the paved road. This was the big time in Coventry.

I don't remember if we had a mayor back then. But I do remember people riding horses, a clown tossing candy to the kids, and my mother and father sitting on lawn chairs with Hopie Hall watching the entire parade from start to finish.

In 8th grade I marched in the parade with the school band playing my flute. My previous public performance was a recitation of "I have a red umbrella," at the Phenix Methodist Church where my grandfather belonged and his sister Marion ran the sunday school. I think I was 5.

These days, I'm not looking for parades. A quiet day at home will do just fine thanks. It's been a while since a weekend arrived with no tasks to do. Well, I could mow the lawn, I guess. Or fire up the grill with tofu pups and veggies.

But the most fun is just sitting out on the deck writing and drinking iced tea and petting Scout. Wanna come over?

We'll think of something to toss on the fire, maybe all my old manuscripts from the MFA program, which started in 1990 when Sean was 10. Now he's going to be 28 in September. Hard to believe. And those manuscripts . . . the fire is waiting.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Poetry on Block Island

An adventure that begins with a ferry ride has an element of magic built in. Visiting Block Island, 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island (where I was born), is like time travel to 19th Century New England with its wraparound porches, old farmhouses, and meadows separated by stone walls. It's a cozy, friendly place.

This trip, I spent a long weekend at the Poetry Project, not far from town. Visiting poets included Mary Oliver, Coleman Barks, Richard Tillinghast, and Valzhyna Mort (who lives right in Alexandria!).

This particular weekend also featured activist visionary astrologer Caroline Casey who introduced us to the playful ways of coyote. We even shared a group howl.

Mary Oliver signed my copy of her new book of poems, Red Bird. Certainly a special moment for me as you can well imagine.

Participants (about 65 total) hailed from Georgia (Atlanta), Connecticut, New York City, Boston, Vermont, etc. To take your car to Block Island costs $93 roundtrip! So most people parked in Galilee, and ferried over on foot.

This was the sixth and final weekend of this year's project. We were busy all day and into the evening, walking from Payne's Harbor View Inn to Smuggler's Cove for special events or riding into town for readings. Meals were communal in a lovely dining room overlooking the fog and ponds.

On a sunny day we would have seen the ocean in the not to far distance. Block Island is only 3 miles around. So you can see the ocean from just about everywhere as long as it's not raining. On the sunny day I arrived, I drove to Mohegan Bluffs and made down and back up the 167 steps to the beach!

For more details, visit the project's Web site. Founder Lisa Starr and her hubby Champ are wonderful and energetic hosts as is their fine dog Brother. Thanks to their efforts, we all had a blast!