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Well, it was a rather epic birthday week with Justin.

The whole week was great, really, but I don’t have photos to back up the other instances of greatness. To quickly summarize, we were able to get out to Connecticut to see Eggie (for her birthday), Darian, and Aivar (bonus visit with Andrus), which was well-overdue.

We had to come back to take care of some obligations, then Justin’s birthday was on Thursday: we kept it rather low-key with our usual CSA pickup, then a coffee-and-farmer’s-market outing with Eve & Pearl; had dinner at Pizza J, which we’ve been meaning to try for at least a year, maybe two. We had some seitan “hot wings” which were pretty good, but I would have liked more sauce and more hot, but for what it’s worth, it was more than acceptable.

Friday we took care of chores which was boring and predictable, but on Saturday Eve took us to her favorite beach in Little Compton: Goosewing. Sadly, we don’t have any photos of any of these outings.  I guess lately we’ve just been more in the moment of things. Either that, or I’ve been too lazy to lug around my camera (ding, ding!).

On Sunday, we headed out to Burlingame to go camping, swim in a freshwater pond, view the eclipse and celebrate my birthday.  And we didn’t forget the camera.

We got there in the afternoon, and they had about 50 spots available for three consecutive nights. There were several really cool spots, but some of them weren’t suitable for our vehicle. We wanted privacy, but also wanted to be near the store & restrooms (we wanted to park the car and not move it).  The nice thing about a midweek camp is that the campground is reasonably empty, so all of it is rather private.  On the weekends, though, it’s so full that even the most private sites might feel a little crowded.

 

We chose this piney wood for its proximity to store (firewood / ice), restrooms, the soft carpet of needles, and the absolute emptiness of all the neighboring sites.  They populated a little during our stay, but not enough to be worrisome.

Monday was the eclipse, and earlier Justin had made some cracker-box pinhole viewing devices using the directions from NASA.  One of them, he even made a toilet-paper-roll eyepiece.  We checked the timing of the eclipse before we left. It was scheduled to be in total for our region at about 2:45pm. Fun fact: Justin’s watch somehow reset itself a half hour earlier, so we were off a little on our timing, but it was okay because we checked on the sun every 5 or so minutes for about an hour.

I wasn’t dumb enough to look directly at the sun with my bare, naked (inferior and obviously peasant) eyes, but I did see a really lovely halo stretched in the space around the sun. I lifted my camera in the direction of the sun and snapped some pictures, hoping to catch the halo, but it just looked like a weird, sky-not-right-for-full-sun type of day.

 

That night we made some beans and rice (a perfectly cowboy dinner) and plotted to rent a canoe to explore Watchaug Pond on Tuesday. We dropped into the store for details. A canoe rental was very reasonably-priced; the only catch was that we had to have it back by 6pm. Fine enough. We figured we’d get our money’s worth by getting up super early and hitting the pond.

Early-ish Tuesday morning, armed with only coffee and a no-complaint policy, Justin & I walked down to the store to rent the canoe.  After a bit of fumbling around, we got into the groove of alternate rowing and turning and started to make our way around the perimeter of the pond.

 

We saw another canoe head toward a reed forest and disappear, so we thought, “hey… maybe we can disappear for a while..” and we did!  We have no idea where that other canoe went, but we never saw them again. We also didn’t hear of any deaths or fraudulent behavior, so they must have come out eventually. Turns out we entered Poquiant Brook, which eventually leads to Pawcatuk River. Had we river shoes, we could have lifted the canoe over the beaver dams to continue back further, but that water looked way dank. So dank that I considered writing “danq” to match internet meme lingo for the drama it deserves.

 

sweet map

Obviously it was not for barefooting.

When we entered the brook, we felt almost instantly transformed to some other place. Where? We’re not sure, but it certainly did not feel like Rhode Island: it was hotter, muggier, buggier, and swampi…. hey, wait: Wait. On second thought, it was probably the most Rhode Island thing we’ve ever seen.

 

There was just so much to explore that for future middle-aged boating, we shall remember to bring our stupidly expensive camera made for exactly this purpose instead of risking damage to our well-used digital SLR (which is no longer stupidly expensive, but does not yet need to be replaced with a newer, much stupider price tag).

The lilies were super interesting. We saw a few different varieties of pads, some round like pictured, and others oval. The oval variety reminded me more of Nasturtium leaves. We saw yellow lily flowers, too; plenty of Boneset, which I originally thought was an aquatic variety of Queen Anne’s Lace (maybe it is!), and Duck Potato (I’m guessing). Interspersed with the pictured Duck Potato is what I think is Loosestrife, which is considered an invasive, but probably everything in the brook is considered invasive. We saw plenty of Chokeberry and Common Reeds, too. One plant I could not identify properly was this plant (pictured left).  I don’t know if the reddened portions of the leaves are from the water or from the season, but I really thought they were so pretty against the rest of the greenery.

One thing I just could not capture, and probably cannot express accurately, was the ridiculous number of humping dragonflies. They were everywhere, frolicking, totally sexing it up shamelessly and it felt wrong to try to photograph it. Thankfully, other folks don’t have the same sense of respect and privacy as I do.

Much less exciting were the waterbugs.

 

We finished the tour of the lake by continuing around the perimeter; we found a couple areas that looked interesting to explore, but turned out to be dead ends. Still pretty, still worth it, especially at the very end as the fog rolled in.

 

All in all, we rowed around the pond for about 5 hours.  By the end of it, no amount of sunscreen could protect us from the slight-but-inevitable burns we suffered. They’ve all lent themselves to tans, now two days later. After canoeing, we soothed our muscles in the pond, just sitting on the shallow beach to our necks in crystal-calm water. I tried to put out of my memory the image of a huge dead fish that I spied on our way to return the canoe, reminding myself that bodies of water are exactly that: bodies, and what resides within them is better when contextualized.

It was a perfect way to spend any day, especially my birthday.

 

Please note: the images without any life jackets were taken in extremely shallow water; when we were in deeper water, or when the wind caught up to us, we both put on our life jackets immediately. Obviously, the rougher waters were not photo-taking times either, so effectively none of these images have us with life jackets on, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t use them. In any case, these pictures also show Justin fully clothed, but for much of our tour, he was actually without pants.

tl;dr? Never trust photographs.