August 1, 2021

Nature’s First Green

Rehoboth Ramblings


Every spring I’m amazed again at how quickly the landscape changes to green once the trees leaf out. What a dramatic change of scenery! Yet I lament that spring flowers and blossoms just don’t last long enough. Our rhododendrons bloomed right on schedule in mid-May and just as reliably faded away within a couple of weeks. First the beautiful, bountiful deep pink blossoms turn light pink after a few days, then they indeed turn a whiter shade of pale, then they droop and turn brown.

Lilacs too lose their delicate fragrance and turn brown after their brief flourishing. I am reminded of Robert Frost’s short poem that pretty much sums it up better than I can: “Nature’s first green is gold/ Her hardest hue to hold/ Her early leaf’s a flower/ But only so an hour/ Then leaf subsides to leaf/ So Eden sank to grief/ So dawn goes down to day/ Nothing gold can stay.” But this is all to be expected and other flowers of summer will take pride of place soon.

On a sadder note, one morning while walking the dog I found a dead river otter at the side of the road, much to my distress. Two or three otters had been making themselves at home in the pond this winter and we had greatly enjoyed their antics. At the time, I wondered how they managed to get from the river to the pond without getting hit by a car on our busy roads. Now I know; sometimes they don’t. If this is the outcome, I wish they would just stay put by the river away from traffic.

It’s easy to see why people enjoy watching these swift, playful and graceful creatures. This poor otter appeared to be a juvenile and had apparently been knocked to the side of the road with one fatal blow, leaving its little body pretty much unmangled. So at least it went quickly. I looked at its sweet little face and decided to bring it home for a burial in the woods. It almost felt like losing a pet.

On a much happier note, and speaking of animals, we enjoyed the Asian Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo recently. This is a zoo-wide walk-through event, all outdoors. It is lit Wednesday through Sunday evenings from 5:30 until 10:00 pm. Last admission is at 9:00 pm. This is a temporary exhibit which will close on July 4. Note that all tickets must be purchased in advance on the zoo’s website, where you can see a video to get a better idea of this glowing extravaganza:

It features over 50 “lanterns” which are inflated figures of animals lit from within. Most of these exhibits are larger, sometimes much larger, than real-life animals; for example, colorful ducks the size of boats can be seen floating on the zoo’s pond. A number of these lanterns represent animals actually found at the zoo in real-life (but not, obviously, the dinosaurs).  If you get there at dusk, you can still see a few actual zoo animals out and about in their enclosures too. But it’s after dark that the brilliant and colorful light displays really stand out.

While at the zoo, we also enjoyed hearing a young Chinese-American woman playing a traditional type of zither called a guzheng. Not only was it an excellent and lively performance, but I realized that this was the first live music I had heard in over 14 months!

With summer on the horizon, we thought we’d better do some things that might be too crowded after Memorial Day and so we spent a Saturday in May visiting Watch Hill in Westerly. We even found a parking spot and were able to walk to the lighthouse and on East Beach for a while. Yes, we saw Taylor Swift’s not-so-humble abode; it’s hard to miss. But at least the mansions in Watch Hill have a certain New England charm, unlike the mock Renaissance palaces in Newport. I had forgotten how tiny Watch Hill is. This little seaside village must be impossibly crowded in the summer. I wonder what won’t be crowded this summer, with people making up for last year. Guess we’ll find out soon.


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