Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Buttonwoods Part I

I used to live in the  most idyllic place on earth. Or at least in Rhode island. 

In the town of Warwick, there's a tiny neighborhood surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth by the woodlands of a small city park. The name of this neighborhood is Buttonwoods. Or, in the local lingo, "Old Buttonwoods," used to distinguish the historic community from the surrounding [middle class] area. 

Old Buttonwoods is filled with beautiful old Victorian and Arts and Crafts style houses, occupied by people with enough money to make them look like they did when they were new. Graceful lawns curve down to the shoreline and shiny foreign cars purr noiselessly through the streets. 

Residents refers to a seventy-year-old hurricane as if it happened last week. Tales of the neighborhood's history abound; it was a Baptist summer camp in the 1800s, a seaside resort with a hotel and a trolly from Providence, a haunted playground for the anguished ghosts of a shipwrecked barque. Okay, I made that last one up. I did often wish I knew some of the neighborhoods past secrets though. I know they were there, I heard them whispering in the Sycamores branches when the breeze stirred on hot, humid summer days.

There's a tiny, exquisite Victorian stone chapel, one of the loveliest of its kinds in the area. I listened to a couple play obscure old Appalachian instruments and sing ancient mountain ballads there once, and it was haunting. The chapel still witnesses the occasional wedding.

There's a huge old evergreen on a triangle of common land that forms an enclosed canopy the neighborhood children love to play in (and, I suspect, the neighborhood teenagers love to hide in, as evidence of the occasional stray beer can I witnessed there).

There's a common way sidewalk that used to be a road before the hurricane of '38 washed it out. It travels between the lovely houses and the waterfront and It's perfect for pushing a baby carriage along on a brisk fall day.

to be continued...  

(Don't get your hopes up, there's nothing exciting coming, unless I make something up. I'm just too tired to figure out where this is going tonight and I'm hoping that putting myself on the spot like this will push me to figure it out in the near future)


l i s a said...

that is a lovely old chapel.

i'm looking forward to the rest of the buttonwoods installments.

Anonymous said...

feels like yesterday that eli was throwing up on your carpet in that guest house. :)

Jocelyn said...

Oh, I love this writing. I want to be there. Yet you make me feel, already, that I am.

jess said...

Lisa, isn't it though? I'm kicking myself because I never took a picture of it and who knows when I'll be in RI next.

Good times, Manda, good times. AHHH!!!! I just went from picturing baby Eli to a mental image of current 12-year-old(wait, really?!?) Eli and I think I have PTSD now.

Jocelyn, it's funny, I was just writing the above entry and thinking "I like the way I write just after I've read O Might Crisis. It is like, and yet unlike Jocelyn's writing, like you with a twist of me, or is it the other way around?

Stuce said...

I'm putting a link to your blog on mine. I am officially a stalker :D

Anonymous said...

I love this place!!! I wish i had a spare mil so i could live there. I wish i still had a sis who lived there so i could visit w/o being creepy.

COMomma said...

I love "occupied by people with enough money to make them look like they did when they were new" because I want to be one of those people! I want one of those houses, and then actually have the money (and/or the expertise) to make it liveable and enjoyable. We looked at a house in a historic part of town with a log-burning furnace. Yes, you read that correctly. I have no idea how much that would have cost to upgrade...