Flocks of turkeys are regular visitors in our yard!
I always feel blessed to live in New England this time of year. The leaves begin to burst with fireworks of crimson and gold. The air is crisp and clean. We begin to don sweaters while we peruse local art festivals or snatch up a bargain at a neighborhood yard sale, and perhaps stop a farm stand for some warm apple pie.
This bucolic scene is so comforting that it’s easy to forget that New England history is full of dark, harrowing events: The Salem Witch Trials, Lizzie Borden and her axe. A few weeks ago, while fulfilling a Cub Scout hiking “belt loop” requirement with our 6-year old, I learned that one of New England’s most horrific events occurred just a stone’s throw from out backyard.
Nine Men’s Misery
From 1675-1676 English colonists in Southern New England, along with their Native American allies, we engaged in a war against the Narragansett Indians. Metacomet, or King Phillip as he was known by the colonists, was the leader of the Narragansett tribe. King Phillip’s War was a horrific, bloody conflict. Following one battle, nine English colonists were tortured and killed by King Phillip’s men in a swampy area, in the middle of what is now known as Cumberland, Rhode Island.
The exact spot where these men were killed, and subsequently buried is in a wooded area owned by the town. The grounds are also home to a former Monastery, which now houses the Cumberland Library. The Monastery has a lovely walking trail, and many locals use as part of their regular routine. Just off the walking trail is a small hill with a mound of rocks. It is a monument to Nine Men’s Misery, and it has been there since 1676.
The walk to the monument is an easy 5-10 minute hike from the library, and the trail is well-marked. Many in the community use it for walking and running, and it certainly makes for a great nature walk with the kids. The monument itself is pretty nondescript, it’s literally an oval-shaped (perhaps crypt-shaped?) mound of stones, covered in Moss with a small plaque resting at the top of a small hill.
My children were not overly impressed with the modest monument, but they enjoyed the walk.
Video courtesy of my husband, the Traveling Media Guy.
What I didn’t know, until my husband whispered into my ear as we left, is that this particular site has a reputation as one of the most haunted areas of New England! Apparently there have been reports of a dark phantom horse running through the site, unexplained drops in temperature, and moans, screams and the like. It was described by author Thomas D’Agostino in his book Haunted Rhode Island, several years ago.
I’ll admit it, my walk back to the car was much speedier than my walk to the monument. I hate to admit that I might believe in ghosts, but I don’t think I’ll be heading back to Nine Men’s Misery anytime soon.
Hurricane Belle made landfall over Jones Beach on Long Island, New York, as a Category 1 storm. 35 years ago this month. My family lived on Long Island at the time, about 30 miles east of Belle’s bullseye. It’s the first hurricane I remember.
I was 5-years old, and I remember waking up during the night to peer in at my parents, who were taking advantage of the power outage by having their own little candlelight dinner. I also remember trying to look out of my South-facing bedroom window to check out the action, and being able to see only blurry outlines of emergency vehicles driving slowly down the street.
The next morning, the front yard was littered with small branches, and one of the neighbor’s fruit trees had fallen in their yard. A playdate at our friend’s house was cancelled because their basement was flooded. My sister remembers my father tying our outside toys to the our chainlink fence in advance of the storm, and that we lost a kiddie pool that night.
According to one account of the storm from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, dated August 10, 1975 Belle skirted Birth Carolina’s Outer Banks, and then passed Virgina and began hitting southern New Jersey with “torrential rains.”A full moon enhanced its pull increasing tides at the Battery on the tip of Manhattan to 10.5 feet. New England was expected to see 15 foot tides, and 2.5 inches of rain on top of an already rain-soaked ground.
So, as much as I have preached “preparation and readiness” to my family and friends over the past few days, I think I need to calm myself down a bit. Based on what I see on TV, the storm’s track over our area of New England is not all that different from Belle’s 35 years ago. I made it through that storm just fine.
Alas, I have neglected this blog for quite some time.
Today though, I am motivated by my extreme fascination with, obsession with, and general fear of hurricanes. I have spent the better part of my day tracking Hurricane Irene, and her potential impact on Rhode Island this weekend. I’ve visited the National Hurricane Center website at least twice an hour. I don’t expect to learn anything new with each visit, but I just can’t help myself.
My new favorite hurricane tracking website is Mike’s Weather Page, where Mike posts at least a dozen different links to Hurricane tracking sites, include my favorite tracking tool: The Spaghetti Model.
This model illustrates the tracks for about a half-dozen different weather models. As of the time of this posting, about four of those tracks head right through Rhode Island.
So, at the risk of being “Chicken Little“, I am in the midst of convincing my husband and family that this could be “the big one”, and we should be prepared.
To that end, I humbly think you should be prepared too. If you live in Southern New England, take Irene seriously. Start by getting your Family Disaster Plan ready. NOAA provides some basic simple guidance for this, including the following:
- Learn about hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
- Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. (The safest areas may not be your home but within your community.)
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet.
- Designate an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
- Make a plan your pets if you need to evacuate.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones. Make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
- Check your insurance coverage. Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. You might also have a “Hurricane Deductible“. Make sure you know what this means for you.
- Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit.
- Use a NOAA weather radio. Check the batteries.
- Get your First Aid kit ready, and make sure it’s easily accessible.
Please check out other hurricane preparation resources for Rhode Islanders at:
- The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency
- The Rhode Island Chapter of the Red Cross
- RI.gov – Emergency Preparedness
- Rhode Island National Guard
As Irene approaches this weekend, remember:
Be Smart. Be Safe.
Watering the Garden at the Potters Avenue Southside Community Land Trust Garden
Giving your garden a cool drink on a hot day might be one of the best ways to beat the heat today in Rhode Island!