May 31, 2020

The Only Thing Constant Is Change

Rehoboth Ramblings


Did anyone rush over to see the dramatic blow-up and collapse of those two cooling towers at the Somerset power plant recently? It was too early on a Saturday for us but we enjoyed the video. We may all say good riddance to such an eyesore but they were a handy landmark when flying into Green Airport from the south. When you saw those hulking towers below, you knew you were almost home.

Speaking of that location, the Swansea Mall is now closed, like so many other malls across the country. Many is the Saturday afternoon we spent there 30 odd years ago, but I think my last purchase at Macy’s was a few years ago now. The mall’s demise doesn’t seem to be listed on that depressing website yet. How retail times have changed over the past four decades.

Another change in the local landscape projected for the next few years is replacing the Henderson (Red) Bridge connecting East Providence to the East Side of Providence. This is news of special interest to those of us who take Rt. 44 into Providence. How many thousands of times have we gone over a bridge that is described as “structurally deficient” over the past 40 years? The plan calls for a more narrow streamlined bridge with just one lane for cars and side lanes for biking and pedestrians. I think they are underestimating how many cars go back and forth over that bridge at rush hour.

The new design is apparently to include roundabouts (have you noticed that we often refer to rotaries by their British name now?) on either side of the bridge, according to the article in the Providence Journal. Oh joy, roundabouts! My least favorite traffic pattern. I know the reasoning behind them; they speed up the flow of traffic, cut down on cars sitting at red lights, etc. but they really scare me since I’m never sure what lane to get in.

Roundabouts are a major feature of driving in the UK. Kudos to my husband for being able to navigate these endless traffic circles on English roads (of course, he is an engineer). I would no more attempt to drive in the UK than to drive at the Seekonk Speedway. Let’s say you land at Heathrow after an overnight flight with very little sleep and get into an unfamiliar rental car (most of them are stick shift, unless you want to pay a hefty premium). Then you will be driving on the “wrong” side of the road in heavy traffic and navigating your way through unfamiliar roundabouts. What could go wrong?

I’m looking forward to our seasonal trips over the Braga Bridge, with visits to the South Coast and maybe the Cape. I guess they will be working on the Pell Bridge in Newport this summer too. We all worry about the condition of our roads and bridges and then get exasperated when traffic is disrupted for the roadwork to get underway. Such is life. As of this writing, we are still waiting for our street to be repaved after it was ripped up a couple of weeks ago.

The quote I began with above is from Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher. If he thought things changed fast in those days, he should see things now. I often think that the one thing people from the past would be most overwhelmed by (if they got transported here by time machine) would be the speed at which life moves, the changes that are so fast and furious they can give you whiplash. Even our ancestors from only 100 years ago would be amazed and probably left dizzy.

There’s always one change we can all appreciate and that’s the change in the landscape from bleak and barren (this stage lasts much too long in New England) to lush, leafy, and very green that happens this time of year. The renewal of life seems like an annual miracle. This year we even got to witness a real miracle – after a very chilly, rainy spring, it was warm and sunny all three days of Memorial Day weekend!


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