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Providence


From DC it was a quick trip to Providence, which is only 400 or so miles away. That’s six hours or so by car, but only an hour and twenty minutes (or so) by plane. Just a hop, skip, and a bounce on the runway. (Several years ago, after a particularly rough landing, I remember one of the cabin attendants came over the intercom and said, “For those of you who are wondering if that was the pilot’s fault or the plane’s fault, it was neither. It was the ass-phalt.” I thought it was witty. Maybe you had to be there.)


Anyway...


Soon, we felt our descent begin. Shortly after that, we landed at Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport. We made our way to the terminal where Patty was waiting.


She looks great, by the way. She always did, of course, and she’s not much changed from when I first met her just over (gulp) forty years ago. Martha and she were friends from teaching, and they’ve been in touch ever since. She’s a nice person, charming, and she tolerates my bizarre sense of humor. That isn’t always easy.


She is also one of the few people who can get away with teasing Martha. One of her favorite routines has to do with me. She’ll listen to me saying something slightly insane and (probably) apropos of nothing--for example, “...did you ever think that if the Triassic extinction event hadn’t happened, the dominant form of life on the planet wouldn’t have been dinosaurs and birds, or mammals, but some descendant of the warmblooded crocodilians? Like the bipedal Poposaurus? Isn’t that fascinating?”--and then she’ll turn to Martha, her eyes full of sadness and compassion, and ask her, “Did you *have* to marry him?”


Rather good question, I’m afraid.



The River near Patty's house. It just feels so very New England to me...you know?


Anyway, she was there. She greeted us warmly, and then we went to the luggage claim. To our surprise and delight, our bags came out onto the carousel quickly. You’ll recall this was in August 2022, when the media was alive with horror stories of airport scr@w-ups and mountains of luggage getting sent to the wrong destinations...or to landfills...while its hapless owners stood about, wondering what to do. (“We’ve tracked your suitcase. It’s at the Timbuktu International Airport. We suggest you go get it. Perhaps we could sell you a ticket to go there? Timbuktu is lovely this time of year. And you’re already packed.”)


We gathered up our bags and headed outside. That’s when we got our first shock. It was hot. I mean *really* hot. I mean it was melt your fillings hot. It was start sweating now and avoid the rush hot. It was also humid. As in I wasn’t sure whether to walk or do the breaststroke.


Patty explained that they were having an “unseasonable” heat wave and it was expected to go on for quite some time. We cringed. We had hoped to have a repeat of our New Mexico trip, when it was cool and dry, but here we were in the swamp, sweltering again. Temperature-wise, at least, we might as well have never left Texas.


But...it wasn’t Texas, and there was something to be said for that. At least it was a different heat. So, I put the luggage into the trunk of Patty’s car and off we went.


On the way, we had a quick tour of parts of Providence. It was much changed, by the way. When we left, the city was just beginning a Renaissance of sorts. Now, it was definitely on the upswing. Property prices are soaring (we learned) and there was a quite a bit of new building. It still has its problems. It was very hard hit by Covid and by the virus’ attendant misfortunes. I’m looking at an article right now on The Providence Journal entitled “Rhode Island's economy is hurting, but is it in a recession?,”(1) by Paul Edward Parker. His answer? Well, maybe, maybe not. But, still, things could be a lot worse.


In recent years, Providence has shifted from a manufacturing economy to one based on services. There are no less than eight world-class hospitals here, plus seven colleges and other “institutions of higher learning.” It’s also got quite a bit of tourist trade. Everyone comes here for leaf peeping and to attend “Waterfire.” That last is hard to describe. Basically, though, it was a work created by the artist Barnaby Evans. It then became a sort of citywide festival down along the city’s three rivers. During the fest, special Waterfire organizers and volunteers build bonfires on special platforms just above the water itself. At night, you stand on the rivers’ edges and, there, seeming to float in the stream, are a hundred red and golden flames.(2)


It’s well worth seeing and it brings in tons of tourists, and along with them, tons of their money. So, being a rip roaring success that is profitable in the extreme, lots of sensible economic conservatives, libertarians, and other People Who Know Best, hate Waterfire with a passion. There have been attempts to cut its funding or otherwise remove it from the scene. So far, though, The People Who *Don’t* Know Best, but who know a good thing when they see it, have prevailed, and Waterfire--for the moment--survives.(3)


Anyway, getting back to our drive, soon, we’d left Providence proper and moved into Cranston...which is its own, separate city, though you might not know it. Providence, Cranston, and Warwick have long ago grown into each other, like the boroughs of New York, and where one ends and another begins can be difficult to detect for the casual observer, like me.


Then, another switch, and we were in Pawtuxet Village--Patty’s home, and, for the next few days, ours.


More to come.




As usual, I include at least one picture that has nothing to do with the story but which I just happen to like. This is the happen-to-like one, and is of Martha in Austin when we visited the Zilker Botanical Garden back in October of 2022. I caught her by surprise while she was wearing her big sunhat. I think it’s cute. She’s not so sure.




Notes:


3. But maybe just barely. If you’re interested in donating to the effort, go here: https://waterfire.org/support/donate/


***


Care to help out?


I provide these blog postings for free. That’s fine and I’m happy to do so. But, long ago and far away, I was told that if you give away your material, that means you don’t really think it has any value.


So, to get beyond that, I’ve decided to make it possible for you to leave me a “tip” for my posts.


If you like what I write or the videos I produce, and feel you could make a small contribution to support my efforts, please go here:



That will take you to a Gumroad page where you’ll have the option of leaving me a few pence by way of encouragement.

As usual, I include a picture that has nothing to do with the storybut w. This is the happen-to-like one, and it is of Martha in Austin when we visited the Zilker Botanical Garden ba in October of 2022. I caught her by surprise while she was wearing her big sunhat. I think it’s cute. She’s not so sure. sure. . e. .

Again, I don’t mind if you don’t. I just want to provide you with the option so that I won’t feel quite so much like I’m just tossing my works into the wind.


Either way, thanks hugely for dropping by the blog :-)


~mjt



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