Letter: Fond memories of the little gem that is Little Compton

Posted 6/10/22

Just to the south of Little Compton, RI is the Atlantic Ocean and to the west the Sakonnet River.

A place by the sea. Predominantly a small rural-farming community with an impressive ocean view. A …

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Letter: Fond memories of the little gem that is Little Compton

Posted

Just to the south of Little Compton, RI is the Atlantic Ocean and to the west the Sakonnet River.

A place by the sea. Predominantly a small rural-farming community with an impressive ocean view. A pristine blend of rolling hills, rambling stone walls and ocean specific trees. Acres of farmland interrupted only by exquisite naturally shingled homes perfectly salt air weathered.

An impromptu visit to the area while my husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary in Newport last weekend. One year past a rather significant anniversary thanks to the pandemic. We have ties to South County as it is where we lived during our first year of marriage while my husband was finishing his MBA at the University of Rhode Island. Rhode Island has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember.

It had been more than a few years since I had found my way back to Little Compton. After remembering a couple of the turns to the town beach, I also missed one or two. Change wasn’t obvious but nothing remains static including our memories. A simple correction of direction finally led us to the town beach. The shack where parking fees were once collected would be reserved for one’s memory now. The parking lot once accommodated a few rows of cars and the odd camper but now instead a narrow swath of rock covered sand was made evident by years of erosion.

The Little Compton public beach is the place where I feel closest to my mother and my childhood. Summer days spent traveling from Rehoboth to Little Compton were always welcomed and joyfully anticipated. We would be on the road during the early hours of the morning and somehow our mom had magically packed a picnic and all we needed for a day at the beach. My mother rarely spoke of need or want but often dreamed of a small cottage located near the beach. A “sweep clean cottage.” Minimal summer living. The proximity to her “heaven” would be her only unfulfilled want.

Off to the left a Great Egret stood proudly in the cold navy marsh water. Grasses still in yellow winter hues. An estate on a distant hill. On approach to the rocky beach to my right I looked out over the white caps while taking in the glittering Atlantic Ocean. The surf impressive. The cold air was reinforced by the unsteadying harsh New England wind. Winter had not quite released its grip, yet signs of early spring were everywhere. The Forsythia in bloom. Daffodils lining the stone walls. Defiant in my insistence to battle the cold blow of the wind off the ocean I took a moment to reflect. To remember…

Memories of body surfing as a young girl flooded my thoughts. How many tumbles rolled me amongst the rocks? Summersaulting in breaking waves. Involuntarily twisting and turning while seeking what would be up. The exhilaration of a wild ride brought my brother and I back time and time again. This beach represented a host of joyful moments from childhood to my teenage years. The voices and the laughter seemed to float up from the rocks…

No family trip to the beach went without a stop at Gray’s Ice Cream at Four Corners in Tiverton. One more sliver of fun to top off the day as we made our way home delightfully tired and sandy. To honor this long standing tradition my husband and I stopped for some homemade ice cream despite the cold temps. A broad smile crept across my face as I noticed my mother’s favorite flavor Peach Brandy was still on the menu…

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” — Sarah Kay

Elizabeth Ricketson

South Pomfret, Vt.

 

 

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