Monthly Archives: May 2012

Descent into Bliss…

Stairway to Heaven

It may not look like much but this new ladder, placed near the old, rusted remnants of another, offers a soul a descent into the beautiful.

This particular place is none other than Brenton  Point, a place I have mentioned here on numerous occasions.

The ladders are situated along a bend of Ocean Avenue, where, above and beyond the lot lies a verdant sward, where swarms of summer folk deign to drape the skies with dancing kites. But here, after the final rung is rendered free,  your feet touch the smooth rocks below, and another world is yours.

Julie and I recently ventured here to such healing grounds, and as we went for our usual jaunt along the sea, we espied this brand-new ladder attached to the sea wall. We instantly knew that upon our return, we would pack up bags and chairs and wend our way to such a wondrous and worthy site.

The Healing Zone

Once ensconced firmly upon the shifting and sun-baked stones, we were spellbound by the scene.

Nothing but the curvature of the earth, sun-warmed rocks, and a roiling sea, with wispy, wraith-like clouds that drifted slowly by completed the magnificent vista.

How can one want more, especially when such scenes are shared with your Beloved? This then, the picture above, is what greeted our orbs after setting up our chairs, our towels, books, and coolers.


Before plunging into our choice tomes (mine, Paul Theroux’s latest, ‘The Lower River‘, and Julie’s, ‘Running with Scissors‘) we just sat silent, couched mesmerized sentinels to the ethereal and endless sea stretched before us.

We stayed for a few hours, and soaked up the delicious atmosphere, and only on a few occasions were we accosted by obnoxiously loud people, others who dared descend rungs to ruin our reverie. Why do people need to yell and holler at each other, overly loud, when such a beauteous panorama exists? Chatter is superfluous when engulfed by such heavenly scenes. Just hush and…enjoy.

Prior to exiting this superb expanse of sea, we took this picture, capturing our presence upon the rocks with a churning sea distant. Here there are thousands of ‘skimmers’ waiting to be pocketed, stones  a remembrance of a grand time along the shore.

After our ascent from a blissful retreat, we drove to Colt State Park in Bristol. Once parked, we disengaged our bicycles and went on a pleasing journey along the East Bay Bike Path, to Barrington and partook in a heavenly ice cream cone from the Daily Scoop.

From there, we returned and set up shop along the vast fields of grass adjacent to the sea. We watched and marveled at yet another splendid vista. Late afternoon produced an abundance of ‘sparklies’ upon the water, and this photo perfectly captures the moment of such a find.

All in all a wonderful sojourn, and perhaps come the Memorial Day weekend, we will once again find ourselves thus ensconced.

Perhaps this time, though, we shall bring the boys, to have them experience such infinite and enchanting lands.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.


Maggie Update…

Now is she undeniably cute or what?

What a love our Maggie has turned out to be. She gets along swimmingly with Boo and Miles, and she adores being stroked. All the time. That is, when she’s not fetching a toy mouse for hours. It doesn’t matter the time of day. She picks up a mouse, walks over to you and deposits it at your feet and then, with a tiny whine and pleading eyes, wants you to throw it. Over and over again. It becomes exhausting.

The times when she is not playing fetch (must get her on You Tube doing that, or send it to Ellen) she will wrestle with Boo. Miles, on the other paw, will have none of it. But then…but then, she will become tired. And as you can see by the photo this has become her favorite perch; a nice, soft blanket spread luxuriously out on a comfy couch. Well, it’s her spot until my Beloved comes home, weary after a long day, and where she loves to curl up with heating pad and unwind. Maggie will just have to wait.

In all, we are very elated to have this feline in our midst, a true love of a kitty, and we are especially grateful for all the fine folk at the Second Chance Animal Shelter in East Brookfield, for taking care of her and allowing us to welcome her into our home.

Oh, have to run! Maggie just entered the room, with mouse in mouth. Better start limbering up my arm. Sigh.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Westville Walk…

Westville Dam Flooded

Believe it or not, that tree is in the middle of a field. At times, though, after heavy rains, this field becomes flooded, and it is a marvel to see.

I took this photo from atop a small knoll, having navigated through woods and treacherous footfalls to arrive there. When the Westville Dam is in this ravaged state, traversing the trails are nigh impossible.

But when the waters recede, there is a fine trail to be had, a 2.5 mile oval shaped path that one can walk, run, or bike on. We are quite fond of this place, especially during the late afternoon, when the slant of sun creates long shadows, and the interplay of light and dark is profound.

Sometimes we find ourselves totally alone, having walked the entire length with nary a soul in sight. But on Sundays, that all changes. It is Dog Day. Vast streams of folk gather in the limited parking lot, chatting away while the various dogs mingle, anxious for their owners to polish off the remnants of their tepid cups of joe.

Julie and I tend to avoid these congregations, preferring instead to stay quite a distance from wayward canines. But it never fails; eventually we will come across a gaggle of people, with dogs attached on long leashes, and invariably the pooch will come bounding toward you, tail and tongue wagging, wanting to jump up to paw your garments. The owner usually has the same reply: “Oh, don’t worry, he’s harmless!” Or “He just wants to play.”

But we do not.

We abhor getting accosted in this fashion, and on one memorable jaunt, a dog leapt up and placed its muddy paws all over Julie’s sweatpants. “Oh, I’m sorry”, the owner would say. ” He just wanted to play.” They never offer to pay for cleaning bills. Sometimes, one will encounter a fresh pile of dog poop along the trail, inconsiderately left by the dog’s owner. (At the beginning of each trail there are FREE bags for the sole purpose of disposing of your doggie’s doo-doo. But some people couldn’t be bothered by such trifling concerns.)

On the occasion when we have the place to ourselves, we sometimes manage to espy a magnificent blue heron in flight, its primordial wings gracefully swaying as it glides silently by. Or we’ll come across a lone heron standing in the shallows, a patient soul waiting interminably for a passing meal.

Other times we see turtles sunning on rocks or logs. There is one particular rock that juts out of the water, and we have seen up to six turtles all crowding around, valiantly attempting to get one last suntanning session in before sunset. It always reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s ‘Yertle the Turtle’, a great story, and one I love to read to 1st and 2nd graders. They never fail to laugh heartily and noisily when poor Mack burps, sending Yertle down into the mud.

Since my return to Sturbridge once again (christ, has it really been eight years already?), I had never heard of the Westville Dam area. I guess it was because I grew up in Walker Pond, right next to Wells State Park. There was no need to venture beyond my back door. We had a lake, a field, and many paths throughout the park. What a wonderful environment to grow up in.

But now, having come full circle to Sturbridge, it was a pleasant surprise to find this area of Southbridge/Sturbridge, where a meandering path leads you to the dam, and the many faces of nature abound. I high recommend this small stretch of trail to anyone.

Just watch out on Sundays, though.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Night Sights…

Visions During the Nocturne

While nursing a tepid beer at 10:30pm, I deigned to indulge my soul in the great outdoors, wishing for a healing sigh of a nocturnal wind to wash over me. I sat upon the darkened front stoop, and allowed my eyes to adjust to the dim light of night.

I sat there in the cool evening, and marveled at the simple shadows that played close by. The dark shape cast by the Ford Escape or the thin, quavering shadow of a sapling in the front yard. But the most evocative image was of a bush nearby; it cast a V-shaped shadow that resembled the wake left by a duck upon a still lake.

I sat there, as still as the lake, and peered further into the gloom. Across the way, a giant fir loomed in the darkness. In the past, and especially during frantic windy evenings, I often wondered if this behemoth of a tree would come crashing down upon our house.

But now, in the cool comfort of night, this tree proved inviting.  Branches swayed slowly in a nocturnal dance, and I wondered how many birds nested within its shielded limbs. How many birds, and other animals, as well as insects, called this 70 foot giant their home?

I took another pull from my beer and sat there, upon the stoop, mesmerized by the dance before me. The hypnotic, slow rhythmic sway of the tree reminded me of the giant kelp fields in the Sargasso Sea, where ancient tides tugged ceaselessly upon vast spiraled belts of seaweed, an undersea dance during the nocturne that spoke volumes to all souls.

It was a brief and enchanting evening, a chance glimpse into the rhythm of the night.

At last, a long final pull on my beer, and then I disappeared into the house. What lovely visions to have witnessed, and I was quite certain that a pleasing slumber, replete with sensual imagery, awaited me.

Bon nuit.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Endless Evening…

My son eagerly anticipated the release of The Avengers so of course we just had to go. On opening day.

And, for a little nostalgia, we opted to go to the Leicester Drive-In, right off of Route 9 in Massachusetts. I looked online for the hours of operation, and it mentioned that all movies began at ‘dusk’. Now there is a nebulous word, don’t you agree? When exactly is dusk? I know it comes right after twilight (whenever that is exactly…) but when? I believe it is certainly open to interpretation, as evidenced by the time our movie actually began.

Thus did our long and painful evening commence.

I figured that since it was opening day, and that perhaps hordes of folk would be just as nostalgic, we would leave the house and get there right before the gates opened, which happened to be at 6pm. Big mistake. Since it was May 4, the daylight here on the east coast tends to linger. Unfortunately, I did not add that to the equation. We arrived promptly at 5:30 (forgetting that the theater was only 14 miles away) and we were the second car in line, if you could call it that. No mass of humanity yet. After all, dusk was still distant. Whenever that was. We soon found out.

At the appointed hour of 6pm, an elderly lady drove her battered minivan up to the gate, got out, and opened the door to the box office. She brought with her a metal cash box, a plug-in phone from the ’70’s (!), and what appeared to be a hastily purchased fast food dinner consisting of something saturated in fat. I deduced that by the stains of grease that bled through the wrappers. And remember, I was second in line.

We then paid our fare of $20 a carload, (quite reasonable, I thought, since there were four of us; Julie and I, and our son brought along a friend), and we swept through the gates along a dirt and gravel-rutted road. We proceeded along the bumpy trail and parked our car smack-dab in the middle of the third row, a choice spot indeed.

Now what? We waited for dusk. And waited. A few cars began to trickle in, and they, too, found good spots to park. At this point and out of curiosity, I ambled over to the old lady at the box office and inquired about what time the movie would start.

“All movies start at dusk, so I’d say, oh, about 8 o’clock”, she said.

Jesus H. I glanced at my cell phone and it was only 6:15. Great. Another hour and forty-five minutes before showtime. It’s a good thing I forgot to bring a book along, to idle away the time. I cursed myself for leaving so early, and forgetting a choice book. And Julie did wonder why we left at 5. I just thought that flocks of folk would descend to this drive-in but I was terribly mistaken.

So there we sat. Well, the boys did venture for a stroll along the grounds, as they were bored out of their skulls, and I certainly couldn’t blame them. They were aghast to learn that the movie didn’t start for almost two hours!

While the boys wandered off, Julie and I marveled at all the pinguid people that somehow managed to squeeze out of their cars. Jesus, no wonder the United States has the fattest people in the world. Just one glance around this parking lot and one can see why. Every gaze brought ponderous people into view, all plodding around their cars like a herd of pachyderms. Plodding and eating. I guess it must be de rigueur to be obese and eat copious amounts of carbohydrates prior to a drive-in movie.

To break the monotony, I took the boys down the street to a Dairy Queen and there did we meet more waist-challenged folk, all squeezed into the store, eyeing the various ‘brown’ foods on the menu. (You know it can’t be good for you if all the food is either brown or golden in hue.) The place was suffocating, but not because the interior was small. It was because of the mountain of gelatinous flesh that filled the restaurant, humongous people that barely supported their tremendous girth, all wheezing with eyes glazed as they scoured the neon lit menu board. It was quite a sight, to say the least, and we couldn’t wait to exit.

I procured two chocolate shakes for the boys, and a chocolate cone for Julie and me. (Mind you, they were small cones, and we are quite active.) We then fled the scene, leaving the heaving masses to forage for fatty fries.

(Yes, you are quite right, this post is about the movie, so let’s get on with it. Enough of the asides.)

As the appointed hour of 8pm slowly arrived, a dense fog began to roll in, obscuring surrounding trees and, more importantly, the screen.

Perfect!” I thought. ‘How could it possibly get any better?

Just then a misty drizzle–or mizzle–descended, like a fine Belgian rain, coating both cars and gargantuan people alike. The boys, who were nestled comfortably in lawn chairs, quickly took refuge in the car, leaving their comfy blankets trampled in the damp earth. Condensation soon formed on the windows (sounds great so far, doesn’t it?) and then we were soon treated to the movie. Or what we could see of it. At least, initially. Grainy shadows  and indiscernible objects flitted about the screen. And then the movie stopped.

Fog and slight rain continued to add to the festivities, and people in other cars started honking their horns and flashing their lights, illuminating their displeasure for the delay. Every now and then we had to turn the car on and blast the fans, to eliminate the fog that had saturated the windows. Some cars left, still honking away. We stayed, waiting it out, and I thought that there was no way we were going to leave, especially after seeing the sign at the box office, written in big bold letters, that stated, ‘NO REFUNDS!

So we sat. In the drizzle. And the fog. The boys, getting fidgety, asked, “Why can’t we just leave and go to a normal theater?” I sure as hell wasn’t about to get up and go, especially after paying the twenty bucks, plus for staying this long.

Finally, the movie started once again. The boys complained, but only briefly, and then through the faint flickers of things on the screen, and all of us straining to see through the fog, we sat and watched the film in its entirety.

I was sure that at some point through the viewing a chorus of groans would be heard from the back seat, but the boys seemed entranced by the grainy performance before us. I was duly impressed. And it did turn out to be a pretty good movie! How can it not when so many super heroes are up there on the screen at the same time?

Our son’s friend insisted on staying through the credits (for what reason still eludes me) and I went off for one last pee to the incredibly decrepit and disgusting bathrooms, and then we left. It was around 11:15pm.

What a night. But, as it turned out, it was all good. Next time I’ll know not to leave so early, and to bring a book. And maybe a few beers.

OK, you’re right. A lot of beer.

Copyright*, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

*except the photos

A Star from the Stoop…

Our backyard is a welcome sight come dusk. Finally, a time to enjoy the outdoors, free from our fishbowl existence. During the day, the yard is a haven for many species of birds but now, under darkling skies, only a pair of mourning doves can be observed, pecking at the ground for late evening grub.

Just me, and Boo, our magnificent black cat, sit on the stairs. Boo watches, ears twitching. He hears the night sounds, hunched and watching. Something. Distant trees softly sway, a silent dance in wan light. A cool, quiet breeze sifts through saplings, with nary a sound save the whisper of nightfall.

A brilliant bower of budding blossoms has faded; only a faint glimmer of their glory can be gleaned from the gathering gloom. Darkness pervades, leaving weaving shadowed trees in its stealthy approach.

I sit, with Boo, and draw a long pull from my bottle of beer. Only a diffused glimmer of daylight remains and, with the tilt to swallow, a lone star greets my eyes. Not far, a sliver of moon greets the pale of dusk.

The nocturne has arrived.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.