I took a lovely train ride from NYC to Providence, Rhode Island to spend New Years with my dear friend, author/illustrator/professor Mary Jane Begin
and her beau Andy Seal. More hugs!
MJ lives within walking distance to a bay on the Atlantic - a very different vibe from NYC!
There, we took several lovely walks along the beach.
Andy made cozy fires every night.
We ate and read and got excited about the house just up the street that MJ decided to buy. (I'll let her tell that story!)
Meanwhile, MJ and I visited RISD, where she teaches and where I almost went to school long ago. How different my life might have been if I had!
I loved seeing her photo among the faculty.
One of the shining stars of RISD is their taxidermy collection that they keep housed in their Nature Lab. I've long wished we could do something similar at Winthrop, since we also have an amazing taxidermy collection. No matter how you feel about taxidermy, they make wonderful drawing resources for students learning proper anatomy.
In Providence, we had lunch at a wonderful
old restaurant originally built in the late 1700s as a brothel (I think). It had plaster walls, black trim, enormous fireplaces - I loved it! I love old places with history like that - it's part of why I love Scotland so much. They're chocked full of stories
, you can practically feel them in the air. (Sorry I didn't get a photo of it!)
MJ and Andy were fabulous hosts. We spent a lovely outting in Newport, where we ate right on the water and wandered the old winding streets.
The decorations reminded me of Williamsburg; although I suppose the style arrived in Providence first!
Afterwards, we took a walk on "Cliffwalk," a spot overlooking the sea and Martha's Vineyard. I found a spot to sit and think while MJ and Andy walked on. They make such a handsome couple.
It was a truly beautiful spot, and I decided to throw out Stan's first parting stone there. I'll talk about that more in another post.
Before we left, we collected a dozen or so quahog shells (pronounced CO-hog) to stuff with clams for New Year's Eve. (They turned out amazing.) What an amazing thing to collect one's food from the wilds - it's not something humans do much of anymore. But it makes you feel so connected.
Back to their own little beach, we saw horseshoe crabs...
and talked about life and death and, well, everything.
I was fascinated by the enormous number of "lady slippers" - a type of shell that was a hard to find treasure when I visited beaches on the Gulf Coast as a child. There were spots on their beach where ALL the shells were lady slippers!
A planned New Year's Eve party was sidelined by Covid, so MJ and Andy threw an impromptu gathering instead. We visited a Portuguese grocery store to load up on snacks and munchies. I'd never been to one, so it was wonderfully entertaining. Turns out I LOVE dried fava beans!
Friends Chris and Anika Denise (who we also teach with at Hollins U) came over that evening along with another couple, which was a lovely way to spend the evening, even if I didn't make it to midnight.
I had planned to throw out another of Stan's parting stones on New Year's Day, which turned out to be more than I bargained for. Again, next post. But leading up to that moment, we came across several families takng the New Year's plunge in the icy Atlantic.
There was a true sense of hope and joy for 2023, written in the sand, built with stones, collected carefully and shared with the world. Truly, what more could one wish for the New Year than this?
I'm so grateful to friends who have taken me in and shown me love at such a difficult time in my life. I don't think I've been easy company, yet I am so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so much love. And I still have love to give... May your new year be filled with peace and love.