MY LIFE – Another serendipitous moment in the life of Rhea

MY LIFE – Another serendipitous moment in the life of Rhea

Not meaning to paint it too purple, but I see life as occasionally bestowing upon me unexpected sparkling, serendipitous moments that may appear to be no more than ordinary to the casual observer, but which add almost magical sparks to my otherwise pedestrian life.

I had no sooner written about just one such moment in last week’s column about the leaf peeping adventure with my kids when life handed me another sterling moment just days later when my friend Jeanne stopped by to drop off some masks she had made and to rummage through my bin of fabric scraps left over from my quilting days.

Jeanne and I had formed an unexpected friendship a few years back when she had attended a Sunday talk I’d given at the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket. We both bowled in the same league, but hadn’t really known each other until later that week when she approached me at the bowling alley.

“You said you went to kindergarten at Jesus Marie (a now defunct school once attached to the old St. Clare High School in Woonsocket),” she began, “so did I.”

Turned out upon further exploration that not only had we attended the same kindergarten together, but our birthdays were just three days apart! That’s how we became “almost twins,” and friends at the same time, enabling me to sometimes quip, “You think you’re tired (or ache, or whatever) now, just wait three more days and see how you like it then!”

Anyway, back to the present.

Since neither of us had anything going on in our pandemic-empty, living alone by ourselves lives at the moment, and nothing but time on our hands, we went out to sit, socially distanced, in my sunroom with the windows open on all three sides, and chatted for an enjoyable couple of hours. So enjoyable was it, in fact, that we hated to see it end, so we decided to get together again for lunch ... soon. The best day weather-wise, according to the extended forecast, was the following Wednesday, and since Jeanne was longing for fried clams, I suggested a favorite place of mine, Flo’s Clam Shack in Newport (technically in Portsmouth but right on the Newport line).

We were both really looking forward to the outing, so when she got here on Wednesday we were almost giddy at the thought of a day in Newport.

The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the temperature was mild as we parked in the empty lot behind Flo’s only to discover it was closed that day. Another disappointed would-be customer we met by the shuttered service window there suggested a place called Anthony’s ... which was also closed.

Not wanting to wander aimlessly on an empty stomach, I phoned my daughter Barbara who frequently eats in the area and asked her to find us an open restaurant in the area, which is how we wound up at The Lobster Bar on Bowen’s Wharf, a pandemic-worthy establishment open to the air at both ends. By then the wind was picking up pretty good, so we ate inside with a window view of the water, just happy to be out and about on such a beautiful day even though, disappointingly, there were no clams on the menu.

I commemorated the event with a selfie of us, smiling, with masks on, to send home to family and friends. Being in Newport was pleasure enough, even without clams.

From there we cruised along Belleview Avenue, past all the beautiful mansions, some still privately owned, and wondered what it must be like to have that kind of money. Really!

Then we drove through my favorite part of Newport, Ocean Drive, the first part of it all twisty and turny with yet more mansions discreetly set back from the road behind shrubbery and fences before finally opening up to a full-on, unobstructed view of the seemingly endless ocean with waves crashing upon the rocks all along the shore.

I pulled into the parking area at Brenton Point State Park where we bundled up in jackets and walked across the road to watch the waves rolling. The wind was whipping up ahead of an approaching cold front, nearly blowing us off our feet and sending our hair into wild tangles. And yet we persisted.

We braved the elements and sat out there on a park bench facing the wind and the waves for quite a while. Jeanne was particularly impressed with the rays that descended on all sides from the small bit of sun peeking out from behind an opening in the big, fluffy white clouds that surrounded it.

“It kind of looks like the picture from our old catechisms, with the eye of God in a triangle and the rays emanating from it, doesn’t it?” I remarked.

Finally, our lungs filled with salty ocean air and our entire selves filled with a sense of well-being, we lingered a few minutes longer, then retraced our steps and headed home.

It was a lovely day, indeed.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.

Rhea Bouchard Powers and her friend Jeanne Theroux enjoy a day in Newport.