November 10, 2013 by comhomflt
Life now has become a delicate balance between hurrying to finish to-do lists and slowing down to enjoy the time we have left together. The last days are all mapped out, and we are trying to make the most of every spare moment. This past Friday, we had one of those magical sort of days, the sort that exist in your childhood memory of Christmas vacations. It may have something to do with having ice cream for dinner, but on the other hand, it may be that a day like that just called for such an unorthodox ending.
After squeezing in BM1’s video schooling, we headed off for a little drive. One of the most picturesque views in Rhode Island is the scenery that unfolds as you round the bend towards the Jamestown Bridge on Route 138 in the fall, with flaming trees standing out against the dark blue of the Narragansett Bay and the brilliant blue of the sky. We were a little late to catch the trees at their peak of color – about half the trees were bare and the other half already rust-colored, – but it was still breathtakingly gorgeous. Occasionally, a little voice piped up from the back to say, “Daddy, I’m looking at the trees, and they’re beeeee-eautiful!”
Since we were in the area, we decided to venture on towards Portsmouth in search of some Rhode Island history. Among the first European settlers in Rhode Island were Anne Hutchinson, her family, and a few other families, who arrived in Rhode Island in 1638. As with Roger Williams, they were exiled from Massachusetts over religious disagreements with the Puritans. While Roger Williams settled in the Providence area, the family of Anne Hutchinson and those accompanying them landed at and settled in Portsmouth. Later, when Massachusetts threatened to annex Rhode Island, the Hutchinson family moved again to New York, where they settled amongst the Dutch. Sadly, within a short time of relocating to New York, all but one member of the family was massacred by the Indians due to rising tensions between the Indians and Dutch. Today, Anne Hutchinson is honored for her courageousness in questioning the accepted Puritan doctrines in a day when even most men would not have dared to entertain a thought contrary to Puritan teaching. My interest in her was piqued when I read the book American Jezebel by Eve LaPlante; and I knew that one day, we would make a visit to their settlement area at Founders Brook Park in Portsmouth to satisfy my curiosity.
As soon as we arrived, the kids piled out of the van and immediately spotted an apple tree. Not until they had shown us several specimens and debated their variety could we venture off to the settlement site.
We walked along a little brook to the park and found several plaques and stones in honor of Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer, the two most prominent women in the group. The settlers drew up a governing document known as the “Portsmouth Compact,” that guaranteed religious liberty.
In the middle of the park was a large rock, and the kids had a blast proving their rock-climbing abilities. We staid adults enjoyed the beautiful foliage and, of course, forced them to interrupt their frolicking to pose for pictures.
It was very cold, so we didn’t stay long. On the way home, we stopped at one of our favorite little restaurants – Tito’s Cantina by the Navy base. Our food was delicious, and we were so stuffed that we opted to skip a “real” dinner. Instead, we offered the kids those vending machine snack cracker packs and then took them out for ice cream! Don’t worry; they didn’t mind one bit.
The day came to an end quickly, and it was soon time for the girls to have their “pillow pet and book night.” We heard their little voices reading aloud and smiled as BM1 and I worked on our deployment countdown calendar together. Then, we tossed all the rules out the window and let BM1 stay up until nearly 11:00 playing Fluxx, a crazy new game we just had to try! As my LT and I snuggled up later under our warm blankets in anticipation of a cold November night, we both agreed it was a lovely day, from start to finish.