Okay, back to our New England visit...
You’ll recall I had us in Providence, R.I., and we were staying with our friend Patty at her house. That night, Thursday, I went to bed sort of early while Martha and Patty stayed up talking.
I wasn’t surprised when I got up the next morning and discovered everyone else was still asleep. That’s S.O.P. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, so eventually, I got dressed and took a walk. I had a choice of either going to the left, and coming to the River (very pretty, lots of boats and walkways), or going to the right, and then making a left, and heading into Pawtuxet village.
I elected for the village. I’d seen a coffee shop there -- Beans and Buns (https://beansandbunsri.com/https://beansandbunsri.com/) and I was eager to get some caffeine into the system. So off I went.
Beans and Buns...obviously.
It was a pleasant walk. Pawtuxet is somewhere between being a middle- to upper-middle class suburb and a vacation community. Thus there are lots and lots of well-tended homes with great gardens (which I loved looking at along the way), plus lots of cool little shops (all closed at that time of day, but I never actually buy anything, so that doesn’t matter), boutiques, touristy stuff, ice cream parlors, bars...and so on.
I went down Broad Street...past an Italian restaurant, a Masonic temple (Scottish Rite Valley of Providence, still in operation, apparently), a church or two, a used bookstore (Twice Told Tales, http://www.twicetoldtalesri.com/), a thrift shop, and, finally, there was the cafe. It was a small place, but the coffee and pastries smelled great, so I went in. I ordered a coffee and, since it was already crowded, I took my drink to some tables out front. I was delighted to find that, at least at that time of the morning, it was cool enough to be outside. That wouldn’t be the case later on, but for the moment, it was terrific.
If I had known it was there, I could have gone to another open air area behind the cafe which also offers tables and chairs for al fresco dining (good old Albert and his Fresco clan). And, if I *had* gone back there, I would have discovered that each morning a significant fraction of Patty’s neighbors meet there for a quick coffee and pastry before the start of their day.
I wish I had known that and done so, because I would have enjoyed meeting them and saying thank you. They had been very good to Patty after her fall. One actually stayed over with her in the hospital on her first night. But, no way I could have known they were there. So, maybe next time.
As it was, I drank my coffee in the cool of the morning out front. For a while, it was just me, the breeze, and a couple of passing dogs who were very curious to see if I had a muffin to share. When I didn’t, they lost interest and went purposefully pm their way.
Then, an older couple (maybe 70-something) appeared. To be precise, they arrived on a bicycle built for two. They peddled up, parked, went inside, and returned with breakfast. I watched while they sat down and removed their helmets. They nodded at me. I returned the greeting. They asked if I were from out of town. I said yes, that I was visiting from Texas, though originally I was from Massachussets and New Mexico.
That led to a longish conversation. What did I think of Texas politics? Was it as insane as they thought? They loved New Mexico. They’d been to Santa Fe several times. They’d been to Austin once...they’d been there for some academic conference (they had “Retired University Professors” written all over them in big glowing letters) but they’d been able to see a concert while they’d been there.
“We’re very much into, well, I guess call it ‘Alternative Country,’” the man told me, and then he proceeded to name several of my favorite musicians in that genre -- Robert Earl Keen (https://www.robertearlkeen.com/), James McMurtry (https://www.jamesmcmurtry.com/), the late, great Guy Clark (https://www.guyclark.com/), and on and on. For good measure, I threw in Amos Lee (https://www.amoslee.com/), and the couple seemed pleased.
After a bit, we said goodby. They mounted up on their tandem bike and were on their way. And it struck me, as I watched them vanish, what a very New England-ish, and a very academic conversation it had been. It also struck me that I’ve had such conversations, with similar people, in Massachusetts and New Mexico.
But...so far...not in suburban Texas. Maybe in future, or maybe in Austin, or maybe in some college town we’ve yet to visit...
But...as yet...not in Georgetown.
It was something to think about.
Then, with a start, I realized the time was getting on. So, I purchased two more coffees and pastries for Martha and Patty, and headed on my way.
More to come.
As per norm, nothing to do with the story, but this of Martha in front of a cafe here in Georgetown. Believe it or not, this is out front of a local cafe on December 9, 2022. A few days later, it would be brutally cold. Ah, Texas weather..
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