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SPLASH

April 2, 2013

Rhode Island – Thursday, March 28

Last night I stayed in Connecticut, right near the border of Rhode Island because the donation I wanted to make today was in the border town of Westerly. There’s a food pantry there called the Jonnycake Center Emergency Food Pantry, and they offer several different types of programs and one of them is SPLASH – which stands for Summer Program to Alleviate Student Hunger. SPLASH provides food for students during the summer break and during holiday breaks, and spring break was right around the corner. So I shopped for things on the SPLASH wish list which included hot dogs, yogurt, juice boxes, mac and cheese, peanut butter crackers, cereal, and chicken soup. Then I drove over to the food pantry, and one of the volunteers helped me carry the bags in. The parking lot was pretty full because there’s also a thrift store in the building. I asked if there was a story behind the name Jonnycake Food Pantry, and the volunteer told me that in the olden days people would carry journeycakes (made of corn) in their pockets to have something to eat when they were hungry. Journeycakes evolved into jonnycakes, so that’s what the word means, and I’m guessing it’s a symbolic name for the food pantry to show that people can always come and get something to eat when they’re hungry. Then Tula and I set off for a 2 mile walk through town, and through a big park, which was designed as a “Victorian strolling park.” And we strolled through all the paths in the park! There were some sculptures there, and one of them was a large rabbit actually coming out of the foundation of a building.

From there I drove to the Ninigret National WIldlife Refuge and stopped and walked nearly 2 more miles there. Tula couldn’t walk with me there since it was a wildlife refuge. Mostly what I saw were a lot of trees that had their tops sheared off by the hurricane winds. Lots of trees had toppled over and although the trail had been cleared, it was evident there’d been a lot of damage – this NWR was right on the southern Rhode Island coast. More signs of Hurricane Sandy’s fury…

Then I crossed the big bridge onto Conanicut Island, which I had driven across on my first visit in Rhode Island, but I hadn’t been able to stop and see much of it. I first stopped at Fort Wetherill State Park and did just a little over a mile of walking and enjoyed the rocky coastal view from up on a cliff. Then I drove to Beavertail State Park for another mile and a half of walking. There is a working lighthouse at the tip of the island and the rotating beam is kind of mesmerizing. And as we walked along the rocky mouth of the Narragansett Bay I could also hear the clanging bell out on a buoy, and it sounded kind of forlorn. It was a gray day with threatening raindrops, but I found it beautiful – the solitude, the lighthouse beam and the clanging buoy. I imagine the lighthouse and buoy were reassuring sights and sounds to many a mariner. Jamestown is the only town on the island, and I finished my walking for the day in town. It was dinner time then, and I passed a little cafe that was advertising a special of crab cakes over mixed greens with a fruit salsa and a meal sounded good, so that’s what I went back to get and it was as tasty as it sounded. Then I drove across another bridge and stopped for the night in the outskirts of Newport where I’d stayed the last time.
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