Rivers of fire

Saturday 7th October


The day dawned bright, sunny… and there was the ocean! Doug’s condo overlooks the beach and sea, miles of it. Across the channel the long low islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard break the horizon with a dark green ribbon. The sky is blue, the sea is blue and life is good! Our bedroom has a balcony looking straight out to the ocean, then again so does the lounge – and the master bedroom!

We were treated to a tour of the area by our resident guide…everyone should have one! He knew just where the Kennedy compound was. After lunch, seafood of course, taken at Seafood Sam’s which is beside the Cape Cod Canal (a very busy freight way), we headed for Providence the state capitol of Rhode Island.

On the way in we passed yet another entry in our Eccentric America book – the 80ft “Blue Bug”.

Rhode Island is the smallest of the States and it could fit into Alaska over 400 times. We had gone to experience the “Water Fire”. This is in the downtown area, formerly a marshland, where there has been a revival in recent years. All along the river were floating braziers laden with logs ready to be lit at dusk, they would burn until 1 am, however it was not a case of strike a match…

Firstly the music began, the notes curling through the night air then the first of the fire tenders  glided silently from under the first bridge…ceremoniously the first torch touched the first brazier…watched by a hushed audience of several thousand. Each boat manned by volunteers all dressed  in black followed the leader as it made it’s way downstream lighting the rest of the 100 cardinals. Their silhouettes black against the flickering flames, the aromatic smoke began to fill the air, as the enchanting music stirred the emotions.

This “ceremony” has been repeated throughout the summer months, both to celebrate the renaissance of Providence and also to benefit various local charities. Saturday night was linked to the local Breast Cancer Charity 100% of all proceeds went to funding the charity. During the opening, individual torch bearers came down into the water basin and surrounded some of the crowd: each one of these 150 or so volunteers had personal reasons to be there. They were survivors or were related to someone who had had breast cancer. It was a very moving experience. The whole area has a buzz that only a city with two design colleges can create.




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