Thursday, August 19, 2010

New York to Rockport

Contents of my traveling handbag. Read the new Gary Shteyngart on the train up, despite some misgivings after hearing him interviewed on NPR. Super cocky? It's about a future New York, one about to happen any second. Maybe next week. There are none of the sequences of arresting sentences or novel insights into the (my, our) human condition, that make me return to a book again and again, years later, but there are many compelling sketches of what we are heading towards, society-wise. It's also funny. I didn't find it very sad.

As usual, the cat watched the packing quite closely

Heading through Queens courtesy of our $120 roundtrip tickets on Amtrack from Penn Station to Boston, snaking around to the Bronx.

Goodbye, Manhattan.

Goodbye baseball.

Hello, French fries! At Boston we caught the subway from South Station to North Station and sat at the latter for an hour. There was a Macdonald's. I was feeling moody. So I did it.

THEY WERE GOOD! And I dipped them in ketchup.


And I realize why America is fat. This food is cheap. Unholy cow.

We saw a factory from the little train to Rockport.

And a bicycle hidden in the bushes at a station.

We started to see water and what floats.

And houses right on the tracks.

And signs.


And ponds.

Beautiful water meadows.

We were somewhere different, even from the train.

And then we were in Rockport. We walked to our much subdivided self-catering house, above Back Beach, from the station. We met Yann, Vincent's nephew, who carried my blue suitcases.

It was not at all what I was expecting.

Quite lovely.

The harbour had life to it. Despite the obvious, ambling tourist element (amongst which we numbered - Hippos - more about that later) and the unfortunate frou-frou and frippery that goes with it, there still seems to be an undercurrent of real salt water and work near the water.

Being near people who know what they are doing, in an entirely different element, is mesmerizing, and somehow reassuring.

The small boats on the glassy water reminded me of the Knysna lagoon.

Walking as we did every day after that, on Beach and Main Roads, up through Bearskin Neck, we passed alleyways and triangles between houses situated at angles to face the bay.

Always something to look down, or up. Something at the end.

The sea always to one side.

This shingled house right on Front Beach was my favourite, because of the garden. Apples, fat tomatoes. Unfortunately I spied a spray bottle of poisonous weed-be-gone tucked in a nook.

Rockport is under water restrictions. Perhaps the gardener waters furtively, at night.

Is there a flower decree in town. There Shall Be Flowers? For the Tourists Liketh Them?

Or do people really like them and plant them of their own accord?

Such happy, healthy plants.

A weed-be-gone world? What are the politics of these parts?

In the evening the scent of petunias rose from the flowerboxes.

And outside our modest room at the Beach Knoll with its windows open to the waves, South African nemesias blossomed in profusion. I looked carefully for seed, but I think they must be a seedless hybrid. I'm very sorry about that, because they were gorgeous.

That first night we had dinner with Vincent's extended family, whom he hadn't seen in over a decade, and I kept my head down and slurped my spaghetti at a picnic table while Quebecois French twanged about me. His aunt Marie, uncle Yves, Julie, Peter, the small Vincent and the large; Germaine, his mom, beaming from ear to ear to see her son and sister and nephews and nieces all together again. More family would arrive the next day.

We walked home in the dark, past the beach, and fell asleep quickly to the waves falling on the rocks and the sand in the two bays between which we lay. We slept straight through. Not a single eep from the bad black cat to wake us before dawn, demanding to be fed. Still, I wished he could be there too, sleeping on the seaside bed, on holiday from Brooklyn with his people, who missed him, despite everything.


  1. I was gonna pick that novel up >will I now?
    One double hamburger, no cheese. One small fry, one small drink: $3.58 @ MacD while traveling the other day. This why we fat.
    Maine has a declining resource economy and active tourist economy. Low pay, isolation, homogeneity. Imagine the politics. Especially inland. But what a beautiful, striking landscape. I think the flowers came with the tourism. Inland, ordinary folks have nary a flower-just lawn right up to their white houses. But perennials are 1/3 of the price they are down here. And when they bloom, it seems to be all at once!

  2. How many many times I have made this trip and walked those walks! Your posts on this gave me happy chills and even a little tearing up.
    Was so glad to read that you missed Estorbo. I'll be delighted when he posts again too.

  3. woah !! too much goodness & interest here I must come back when I can take my time. Read thoroughly and enjoy les photos. xo S & les Gang


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