Welcome readers and writers. It has been a long standing dream of mine to open up a book store where people could come in, have a free cup of coffee, browse the bookshelves, sit in a comfortable seat and read or write. The Sanctuary would have book readings, poetry jams, evenings of free expression . Well, not having the money to finance such a place, this is my attempt at creating that space.
Please feel free to come on in and share your favorite novels, authors, artists etc. Please share your thoughts on anything.
Sometimes, you capture eternity in a corner of time.
In the southeast corner of Massachusetts, there is a beautiful and somewhat sleepy town of Somerset. You cross the Braga Bridge from the grey mill town of Fall River and you are there. If you take a few lefts and rights, you are at the Narragansett Bay where my paternal grandfather built his home. My grandfather –my Vovo- emigrated from the Azores to the US via Ellis Island sometime around the turn of the 20th century. He was a loom fixer by trade and a talented carpenter by inclination. As I knew him, he was a quiet and simple man.
The house by the bay was a wonderful and mysterious place. My grandfather had purchased all the land to the high tide mark so no one could build in front of his home. The beach was rocky and the water cold. We would fish there, collect shells, gather periwinkles and muscles. My father and grandfather were both avid fishermen, and I would spend long, silent nights fishing alongside them. Sometimes we caught a bass or an eel, a shark or a skate. Many times, we caught flounder that we soon filleted and that my grandmother soon fried with a little flour and red pepper. The nights were quiet and peaceful and we seldom talked.
The house was a shrine for me. It was a simple house; don’t quite know how to describe its style. At the front of the house was a small porch that faced the bay. If you came in through the front door, you came into the family/living room, its dominant feature a large picture window on the left. The room always seemed to be bathed in a warm light. Off to the side of the family room was a simple bedroom where my aunt and uncle slept, as they lived with my grandfather and grandmother. As you walked through the family room, you entered the dining room with a simple dining table. Off of this room was the bedroom where my grandparents slept.
In the back of the dining room was an opening to a stairway that led upstairs where there was a single bedroom. The room had slanted ceilings and was rather small but very clean and simple. It was there that my two cousins slept. As you left the dining room you entered the kitchen, small by many modern standards but completing functional. It was there that many of my grandmother’s delicious foods...breads, soups, fish….were cooked. It was my grandmother’s domain. The only bathroom in the house, a full bath, was through the kitchen as you entered from the dining room. The back entry into the kitchen was a pleasant little mud room.
Of course, this New England house had a full cellar and it was there that laundry was done and canned foods rested. It was also the place that my sister and my cousin and I played for many hours, a dark and sometimes scary place. I think there was a washer but no dryer. The clothes were dried on a clothes line in the back yard.
There was a rather large two-car detached garaged and many of my grandfather’s pickled onions (one of my favorite food memories) aged there. Behind the garage was my grandfather’s carpenter shop. He was always making something- miniature furniture for the girls, adult furniture, things for the house or his boats. My grandfather was retired when I knew him and he was frequently in his shop when we arrived, many times just fiddling around, softy humming to himself. A man of few words, he seemed very happy and contented. I loved him immensely.
By the garage and behind the house was a garden that my grandfather planted every spring. It wasn’t big but he harvested tomatoes, and cucumbers and lettuce. It was my first and only experience of a garden until I had one of my own. Beside the garden was a small fence that began the enclosure for the back yard. This fence was chain link but the rest of the back yard was fenced in with a wooden fence painted white like the rest of the house and the garage. As you entered the back yard by the garden, to your immediate left was a swing set that my grandfather had installed. I don’t know if he built it because it had steel girders so I tend to think it was purchased and then set-up. There were two well-worn seats. By the swing in the back was a homemade clothesline, the rectangular kind that had lines running between two scaffolds.
The rest of the yard was just that, a lot of green grass and room to run, hit a ball or just lay back and look at the sky. To me, in my youth, it was enormous but I am sure if I visited today it would seem much smaller. My family and I lived in a three story tenement house in Fall River, so a trip to my grandparent’s house was a trip to the country. It was always an extraordinary visit. There was a peace there, a joyful silence that I felt as soon as I left the car. It was strange and deeply mysterious, the difference between the experience of the car, of the trip, and the entering of the home. Some of that feeling was, I am sure, just the difference from the noisy street side tenement apartment in Fall River, the noise and hustle of a busy city. Some, but not all. The water was close at hand and I have always found that to be calming. However, the home was peaceful, a noticeable lack of discord impressing to this young man. My grandmother greeted us with a hug and my grandfather would be in his chair, rolling a cigarette. There was nothing unusual. If the weather was good, we (my sister and I) would run out to the swing or down to the beach. Their dog Kappy, a beach mongrel if there ever was one, would greet us and we were always happy to see him. How could this be? My grandparents were simple, non-church going people, nothing extraordinary in their lives that I could see. But they seem to have the fullness of the kingdom.
And a house by the bay. Actually, this home, built my vovo and his family, is only the material representation of some underlying mystery, some goodness.
My time there was magical.
The house is still there, still weathering the New England seasons. Someone lives there, in peace I suspect.