A week ago I made the drive from Merrimack, New Hampshire over to Rye Beach to spend my last day in New England on the coast. The beaches and ocean there look so different from the way the beaches and ocean look here in the South. The water’s a more vivid blue. Not like the blue of the Gulf of Mexico, which is beautiful in its own right, but a deeper blue with some blue-green highlights. I think the cold gives the colors a different hue, a depth and darkness that the warmer waters don’t have. And I wanted to experience that one more day.
I decided to do a meditative sit on the rocks on the shore, to gaze at the ocean instead of closing my eyes as I usually do when I meditate. I could feel the warmth of the sun on the rock on which I was sitting. I could hear the waves crashing every now and then on the rocks below . I could see the Isle of Shoals on the horizon. There were ducks floating and diving. Cars drove past every now and then behind me. Some stopped to enjoy the coast, just as I was doing. It was a quiet, reflective time. A good way to end my New England visit.
Before I left my meditation place, I wanted to take some photos, so I had both my iPhone and my camera out. I’d told myself when I sat down to be careful not to drop my car keys in the rocks, because it might be impossible to recover them. Well, though I managed not to drop my car keys, I did drop my camera. I had set it on the rock next to me – and somehow knocked it off. I watched it bounce – once, twice, three times – then disappear under the rocks. It was dark under there, and my camera is black. But the silver dial on the top reflected a tiny bit of light, so I could just see where it was. It was barely out of reach. By about an inch. I had to figure out a way to lie down in the rocks, to position my feet above me a little, and to hope that my arm was long enough to reach the camera. After some maneuvering, I found the right position that got my arm through the crack far enough to grasp the camera. I ended up scraping my arm and ankle some, but I got the camera. And amazingly, it still works! I’m glad I didn’t drop the iPhone, because I have a feeling it would not have fared nearly so well. . .
Grateful to have my camera back and in working order, I decided to try another waterfront spot and maybe get lunch, too. The only two lunch places were lobster restaurants, and I wasn’t in the mood for seafood (my stomach was bothering me again), so I went on to the Rye Harbor State Park. It wasn’t open for the season yet, but that meant I didn’t have to pay an admission. I found an empty bench on the shore and watched the waves break across the beach and the boats come and go from the harbor. This photo shows a fishing boat coming in, and a lobster boat going out. Boats came and went the whole time I sat there. I like to think that it was freshly-caught seafood being brought in, some of it probably served at Petey’s, the busiest of the two seafood restaurants there in Rye. It was a sunny afternoon in the 60s, perfect weather for my last day in New England, and I was in no hurry to be anywhere else.
I headed back to Merrimack later in the afternoon, saying goodbye for now to the New England seashore. We had dinner that night with friends of Karla and Ken, and I began my trek home the next morning. I stopped off in New Haven, Connecticut to have lunch with a former student and then spent the night with another former student and her family in lovely Wilton, Connecticut, where they showed me Ambler Farms, as well as the old one-room Wilton schoolhouse, before I hit the road on Sunday. That drive took me from Connecticut into New York on I-84 on into Pennsylvania where I got on I-81. Pennsylvania has some beautiful farm land south of Harrisburg. I tried to take some photos as I was driving, but none of them did the scenery justice. Imagine fields of freshly-planted crops and white farmhouses and red barns and gray silos, again and again, farm after farm. I was on I-81 through both Maryland and West Virginia for a few miles, and I stayed on it south through Virginia.
I stopped for the night in Harrisonburg. The drive in Virginia is beautiful, too, with farms along the way, but it’s much more mountainous than Pennsylvania. The Shenandoah Valley makes for lovely driving. That’s part of the reason I don’t mind driving to New England – nearly all of the route is pretty. Plus, I like long drives when I can put my car and my mind on cruise control and let the landscape be my thoughts. I love seeing what’s between here and there, how the terrain changes, how it shapes its communities and reflects the people who live there.
I’ve been home since Monday. After a long trip, I always see “home” a little differently, with new eyes, as if I were a traveler visiting here. At least I do for a few days before the familiarity seeps back in. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to make this trip to the Northeast, to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law and be with some of their friends, to see new sights and re-see some others. Even though my stomach troubles persisted through the trip and have lingered even through this week (I finally went to my primary care provider today and now have some antibiotics to clear up what must be a bacterial infection – my immune system still isn’t up to speed after the cancer treatments), I had a wonderful time, with the emphasis on “wonder.” Wonder that is sister to awe. Wonder and awe of all that is in this world, the beautiful people and places, the landscapes and villages and cities, the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, the highways and neighborhood streets and lanes. So much to see and do and enjoy. I’m so glad to feel well enough to be on the road again, so grateful to be through with breast cancer treatments and to be healing more each day.
And I’m already looking forward to my next trip.