The things we don’t see

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:15pm

Falki was by the gate, as he often is, when I came home from a trip to the harbor. He is an Icelandic horse, sweet tempered but a bit of an escape artist. The youngest of his small “herd,” he was able to slip between posts, gliding beneath the single chain connecting them. A gate replaced the chain.
He slithered — no small feat for a horse, even a small-of-stature Icelandic — between lines of electric fencing, seemingly able to find any place there was slack. A fourth line line of fencing, all around both pastures, seems to be containing him, for the moment.
Falki is a great believer that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. There is a line of demarcation, on the outward part of the ground, beyond the copper- laced white lines that carry a slight solar powered charge, and on the yard side of the wide metal gate to the north pasture. It is exact, precise, as though cut by the most careful of trimmers, but it is this horse who knows exactly how far he can stick his nose without getting zapped or stuck.
It is May, and the world is a study in silver and gray, this pale, dappled horse, the shad coming to white flower beyond the wall bounding the pasture behind him, all muted by alternative rounds of fog and rain.
I had gone out to take a photograph for this page, thinking, as I do this time of year, of what is, in my own Block Island lexicon, lower Beach Avenue, that section from the Public Safety Complex corner to Corn Neck Road.
These road names used to baffle me, Ocean and Beach Ave especially, which seemed stolen from another town. Beach, I finally realized, ran to the beach from Center Road and Ocean, well, it is in the Town Ordinances, dating at least back to the thirties, probably when someone decided it couldn’t be called just the “New Road” forever.

But we still call it the New Harbor, after all, regardless of the fact it hasn’t been “new” since the end of the nineteenth century, it is still newer than the Old Harbor.
There is a curve on Lower Beach that glimmers in spring, all green grass and vegetation in various stages of bloom but something made me continue on rather than pulling over there. It was only when I was dutifully paused at the STOP sign in front of the entrance to the Police Department that I focused on the flowering glory of the tree on the lawn.
It was the pink blossoms that caught my eye, and even knowing the tower rises behind the building I didn’t really notice it until I looked at the photo and saw not only the structure but one of the big white antennae affixed to it.
I had tried the day before to capture the early May luxury of the horse chestnut in front of Dewey Cottage only to find myself not with a photo of the remembered bounty that will be there in a week or two, but a mass of lacy new green through which much sky showed.
Today was a sort of reverse, not a lesser tree in my photo, but that tower, that for all its size was obscured by flowers in the foreground. I thought of the things we do not see, usually something in the background of a photo, a misplaced book or sheaf of papers or a spare sock and once, in an ill-advised early pandemic shut-down attempt at the rarely taken selfie, a theretofore unnoticed line of wear on my bathroom mirror.
Then I was asked of the bare earth in the photo and had to ask “where?” I had not even noticed it, so taken was I first with the blossoms, then the tower.
We had our annual Financial Town Meeting Monday night. The day after people were congratulating themselves for participating in “Democracy in Action” when they really meant nothing more than they got the vote out for their own want.
How dare I say such a thing? The particular want is irrelevant; I have been waiting since the results on the Charter Review Changes vote were tallied, hoping my suspicion would prove unfounded.

I am on record being against the inclusion of a Charter provision stating it is the responsibility of every elector to attend Financial Town Meeting. I do not disagree with the statement, I simply think it matter of policy, not appropriate for inclusion in a governing document.
But, good, we’d have at least 212 people at Town Meeting, presuming some people for whatever reason wouldn’t be able to make it and knowing others, like myself, who did not vote in favor of that Charter change would attend.
We almost made it, the peak of the meeting attendance was 195. Then, after the Topic of the Evening was completed, people began to flood out, not all, but most leaving behind the reports, including the Operating Budget of the Town, those comprehensive documents that are the closest thing to an Annual Report this town produces. As the big gym emptied, the carefully spaced seating made it easier to count the remaining heads. At least one other person ran a tally; I rounded up more generously, then added a few more for good measure and still could not get a total higher than 25 percent of that 212, left to vote upon the expenses of the nuts-and-bolts operation of the town, a 16.5 million dollars expense, mandating an upcoming levy in excess of that allowed by State law. After voting a 4.5 million dollars contribution to a 10.5 million dollars purchase that received less scrutiny than some HDC sign applications.