Monson, Massachusetts cannot boast of much. However, it is home to some of my all-time favorite people. And so it is to Monson that I escape as often as possible, but never often enough. This past weekend was one of those escapes.
Various members of this favorite group of people have been pestering me to come since Christmas time. The pestering follows a pattern of Katie [oldest daugher] first, Cassie [youngest daughter] next, Alyssa [mom] next, and when it's really desperate, Dan [dad] chimes in. When it starts with dad [and the uncle too]...it's serious. Between the demands of cost, car repairs and schedule it took till now to actually get there. The pestering got so serious a contract was thrown in. That's right. Contract. That's a whole 'nother post. [Hmm. Good idea.]
There is nothing in the world like arriving at this home. It starts with ascending a winding driveway bewteen tall pines, and continues with stepping out of my car, stiff from the drive to pause in the shadow of the trees, look up at the stars and breathe deep in the stillness. As I step into the garage below the house, I smile at the familiar creak and answering bang of the screen door. The windows lit in welcome above me seem to smile back. Walking through the lower hall and letting my footsteps fall on the green wooden stairs, I know that at the top I will find firelight and friends.
And so begins a weekend of simply being together. Of letting each day take it's own course. Of waking up each day to remember more updates to share over coffee, new sarcasm to inflict, and more memories to make.
Back in the quiet of my own apartment I resolve to get better pictures next time. Yet it feels that to try and photograph this essence would somehow break the spell. In no other place do I let myself so infuse into just being. You cannot photograph infusion. Perhaps someday I will try. I captured a few moments from our day in Rhode Island. Despite the freezing hurricane rain we explored a new state [for me]. We toured a Vanderbilt mansion in surreal European glamour.
The pounding surf caused us to abandon the idea of a cliff walk above the sea around the mansion neighborhood. Next time, we said. Next time and gave up on the outdoors to eat breakfast for lunch at a local cafe. Warm, full and dry for at least a little while, we walked the cobblestone streets of old Newport, ducking into an art store, a cigar shop and the army & navy outlet for brief reprieves from the weather. We wandered down to the water to the fishing wharf.
There we met Janet, counted lobster tanks, peeked in the dockmasters office [nothing else would fit, but apparantly he was in here somewhere. we saw glimpses], noticed the lack of fish in the sea, and snapped the only photo of us from the entire weekend....which was a win on the first try. All around win. We started the drive home via scenic Ocean Drive to enjoy mansions old and new. Add this city to your list of things to do.
My favorite meal...well, one of them...blue cheese-bacon burgers, chicken tortilla soup, salsa and guacamole w/chips in case your wondering...was being served back the ranch at 6pm, but we had to squeeze in a few more minutes of sponteneity and so drove on through Providence just to see what there was to see. Again, due to weather, this piece of our adventure wasn't much but a drive through. But with bands such as the Squirrel Nut Zippers blasting through the Ipod, fun was a guarantee. We decided to run in Dave and Busters for a couple quick games....2 quarters in the meter [30 minutes was all the time we had], a windblown hat [safely rescued], entering an elevator at it's final floor but needing to go three floors higher, 4 escalators, $14, 2 driving races, skeeball and 82 tokens later [which wouldn't even buy a ring pop to share], we donated the tickets to a kid and ran back down said escalators to our car before serious tickets were handed out. Whew. And onward home to firelight and that fantastic meal with amazing friends. [spoiled? yea. I know. great, huh?]
The four short days of this visit were packed with an art show, a church study group dinner, church worship, surprise updates with old friends, card games, fish watching, latte making, a trip to another state, dinner with friends, one on ones, thoughts of God presence here and abroad, pilfered music, late nights, sage advice and warm hugs. Good things indeed.