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The Lark: Vol 3, Issue 21, March 2024



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Tom Backman Wins John Nickerson Photography Award

Tom Backman, a longtime LLC member who has coordinated many LLC photography classes, was awarded the first annual John Nickerson Photography Award for his photograph taken at the Gloria Gemma WaterFire Lighting on September 30, 2023 (photo below). The award is named after a longtime WaterFire volunteer photographer, John Nickerson, who died last fall. Tom’s photograph was chosen as the best from photographs submitted by his fellow WaterFire photographers.  The award was presented to Tom at the Annual WaterFire Volunteer Appreciation party where he was surrounded by his fellow photographers and other WaterFire friends. Congratulations, Tom!

thumbnail_Best of the year 2023 (Photograph by Tom Backman) 21 (2)

From the Memoir Class Fall 2023
The House on Brayton Point Road

by Diana Grady

The two-story house stood at the end of Brayton Point Road in Westport. Other houses stood near it, a huge three story right on the point, a farmhouse next door, and a fairly modern bungalow on the other side. The 1950s were really a good time to be a kid, especially the summers. Driving up onto the sandy lawn always foreshadowed an idyllic summer vacation. My parents bought the “cottage” in 1948; from then it became our summer get-away, close enough for my father to go to work every day but far enough from the “usual” world to create its own set of memories.

The porch, polished gray, weather-beaten shingles, was big enough to hold a sturdy games table, four rocking chairs, two toddlers, four dogs and three cats. It faced Horseneck Beach, Elephant Rock Beach, and the Atlantic Ocean. No matter what time of day, someone, adult or child, or some animal occupied the porch for meditation, conversation, shucking corn, shelling peas, providing a cheering section for the constant badminton or horseshoe competitions, or just gazing out at the mesmerizing surf breaking on Howland Beach.


Dad and Diana, May 29, 1948, Westport, MA


Mom, Dad, and Diana on the beach, Westport, MA

The attached weather-beaten house had no cellar, only concrete blocks raising it above the crawl space. Inside there was no insulation and actually no traditional interior walls. The exterior boards were exposed in the living room, kitchen, and dining room downstairs and in the four bedrooms upstairs. The walls separating the bedrooms did not reach the ceiling; actually there were no ceilings; each room looked up to the peak of the roof. This architectural style made it easy for falling asleep to the susurration of the surf or for reading on a rainy afternoon as the patter of raindrops hit the roof.

The brick fireplace in the living room was the only heat source, usually lit right after supper with driftwood from the beach providing the fuel. The wood would give off not only warmth but a display of blue and green flames caused by the sea water engrained in the wood. The andirons, fire screen, and fireplace tools became a family heirloom after the house was sold.

Linoleum covered the floors downstairs – linoleum that looked yellowed and worn after years of withstanding sandy feet racing up from the beach and daily sweeping. Upstairs the wooden floor boards were covered with multi-colored scatter rugs that provided some warmth for bare feet on cool summer mornings.

In the kitchen an old wood-burning stove provided six burners for cooking meals. A huge black pot stood on a back burner ready to take pride of place when needed for steaming clamboils, a special favorite of family and friends, or cooking fresh sweet corn from the local vegetable stand. Hanging on the wall nearby, the iron skillet. Opposite the stove was the refrigerator, the style with the motor on top. Underneath the fridge was the water tray which had to emptied each day. No freezer available in this monolith.


Diana, Westport, MA, 1951

Sometime in the early fifties, a bathroom was installed or perhaps converted from the attached outhouse next to the back porch. A toilet, a sink, no bathtub or shower. The Atlantic Ocean was our bathtub.

Plastic curtains adorned each window in the house. The curtains could be left during the winter and replaced the next summer. No washing necessary. No clothes washer. The standard attire was a bathing suit and then shorts and a shirt for the evening, pajamas for sleeping. Periodically my dad would bring the laundry up to Swansea. Or we washed things out in the double sink in the kitchen and hung them out on a clothesline in the small back yard. Nothing beats the smell of clothes dried in the cool sea breezes of summer.

Pride of place over the fireplace was held by Oscar, the tattered deer’s head with full antlers.


The Culture Corner


"Gardening on the Edge" Digital Symposium
March 30, 2024


Click to learn more and to purchase tickets to this digital event.


1877 Black Gospel Window a Conversation
Sunday, April 14
2-3:30 PM
Bristol Art Museum, 10 Wardwell Street Bristol, RI 02809
Lectures & Events - The Bristol Art Museum

Hadley Arnold - Owner of the former St. Mark’s Church & Catherine Zipf, PhD, Director of Bristol Historical, Preservation Society

The earliest known representation of Christ and Gospel Women as people of color in an American public space was uncovered at the former St. Mark’s, Warren, RI, in 2022. Created in 1877, the 12.5 ft x 5 ft-stained glass window depicts Christ in conversation with Mary, Martha, and Samaritan Woman. Adding complexity, the window commemorates Ruth Bourne DeWolf and Hannah Bourne Gibbs, two white sisters who were born into Bristol's slave-trading economy and who married two of Bristol's most infamous slave captains. The window raises a multitude of questions about women, race, and representation in nineteenth-century Rhode Island. Hadley Arnold, owner of the former St. Mark’s Church, and Catherine Zipf, PhD, Director of Bristol Historical and Preservation Society, will share research findings to date, the collaborative research path ahead, and opportunities to contribute to the inquiry.

Blackstone Parks Conservancy

Saturday, April 13, 2024 (2 PM): Looking Under Logs

Follow Blind-Lemon Nightcrawler, the deep underground jazz worm, as we look for worms, pill bugs, and more and learn about compost and soil. Help design a menu for the “Compost Cafe” and play the life-size Candyland game for “worms”! Make slime!

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 (4-5:30 PM) & Sunday, April 21 (10:30 AM-Noon): Park-Keeping

Join us to remove invasive plants in Blackstone Park, as we make room for native forest species. As always, you’re welcome for any amount of time that works for you. Location: Blackstone Park Conservation District’s south section. Meet at Angell Street at Parkside Road.

Saturday, April 20, 2024 (10 AM): Riverbank Cleanup

In collaboration with the Geo Club of Brown University. Meet at Blackstone Field, across from the Narragansett Boat Club (2 River Drive, Providence, RI 02906).

We can provide tools and gloves. Please wear closed-toe shoes and long pants, and bring water and mosquito repellent. For more information about the Blackstone Parks Conservancy, the two parks we co-steward with the City, and any weather-related updates see our website:

For questions or to RSVP (optional but it really helps us plan!), contact Carrie.

Bristol BookFest 2024: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

BookFest is an evening and a day of stimulating conversations around a classic book created to bring together avid readers, writers and scholars in the Bristol community and beyond — all in a welcoming and sociable atmosphere.

Our 2024 selection is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. BookFest will be held on Friday, April 5 at 5 PM at Colt School and Saturday, April 6 from 9 AM-5 PM at Linden Place.


From LLC’s Own Carol Drewes

Carol Drewes, an LLC member, will appear in Timmy, a play at Columbia University in New York on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14. Timmy was written by playwright Megan Rivkin; advisors to the playwright are Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang. Lynn Nottage is a playwright and a screenwriter. She is the first, and remains the only, woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. David Henry Hwang is a Pulitzer Winner and 3-time Obie award winner. Learn more and purchase tickets at

Blithewold Mansion
APRIL 13-21, 2024

Each April, Blithewold opens its gates to welcome visitors just as springtime begins. This April, our famous display has been expanded! We planted an additional 40,000 daffodil bulbs this past fall. Together, the new bulbs and the existing will bring us close to having 100,000 daffodils, in 80 varieties. We also added another 15K spring bulbs, giving us a 8-10 week display of the first flowers of spring all across this 33-acre seaside estate!

The first week, timed to the annual school vacation week, is filled not only with flowers, but lots of fun-for-the-whole-family with programming that celebrates springtime and our favorite yellow-flower friends. Come and stroll the grounds at your leisure. Or visit our program pages to register for afternoon tea, concert or workshop that's just right for you and your favorite group of friends.

"We see daffodils, and we feel lighter. We sense we now walk in springtime. ... And nowhere does the daffodil beckon us to come see its show more than at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island."
Yankee Magazine, April 2023, “Sunny-Side Up,” Mel Allen



by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.