We took our annual visit to Rhode Island at the end of April. One of the highlights of our Rhode Island trips is our day at Newport. It wasn’t beach weather, so we had our appetite enhancing exercise on the trails of the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.
It being the middle of the afternoon, we didn’t see much wildlife. A yellow warbler and the biggest rabbit I’ve seen for a while were the most notable. Perhaps we missed some because we were so busy looking beyond the boundaries of the reserve. As we stood on the viewing decks, the beaches of Little Compton and the lighthouse at Sakonnet Point were across the water, and the silhouette of St George’s School Chapel on the ridge behind us. There is something very deliberately old England about this corner of New England. I cannot help thinking of Somerset (well, most of the place names in Rhode Island seem to end in ‘et’): a mix of Bath and Glastonbury (although, the music festivals might draw rather different crowds), but with the magic of both west country places.
Walking around the refuge, it was rather obvious that there were some predators about. The trails were covered in scat: twisted, pointed, and mostly fur. It was too big and there was too much of it for it to have been left by foxes. Coyotes. They seem to have followed the deer into the refuge and found it a bountiful home. However, as the refuge has a plan to increase the numbers of the native New England Cottontail, there is a coyote management policy to go along with it. As a friend in Iowa said, ‘Since I’ve heard coyotes around the farm at night, I haven’t flushed any pheasants from the road sides on my way to work.’
After a drive past the mansions, we headed down into Newport to our favourite haunt, The Black Pearl, as the guests of UV and AL. As usual, we started with the mussels. To follow, two of us had scallops; two had trout; and one had lobster cakes. My Son decided on a bowl of chowder. The Black Pearl sells chowder by the cup and by the bowl. The cup is a cup; but the bowl is something else. The Boy allowed us a taste, and then got to work. He got a fair way through before his share of the mussels and the amazing bread rolls caught up with him. Nevertheless, it was his chowder and he wanted to take it home.
So, we asked the lady who was serving us if we might have a container. She readily agreed and even said that she would top it up so that he could have a full bowl for his lunch the next day. Top it up, she did. The folks at The Black Pearl may keep their award winning recipe close to their chest, but they are not stingy with the stuff itself. Wife Person and The Boy were home alone for lunch. It was all that they could do to finish the carton between them. Alas, for those of us who might have wanted a wee taste, they were victorious in their struggle, proclaiming the chowder’s goodness even as their waist bands strained and their eyes rolled back in their heads.