Somewhere in time

Pretty much everything is closed on Block Island during the winter. In the summer, the place explodes with inns and bars and shops and sandwich places, but in the winter, all of that is scaled back. The grocery store is open. The gas station is open, but only for a couple of hours a day. The “Block Island Depot” is open (another sort of general store). The library is open. There’s one restaurant/bar that is open (maybe two). But nothing on the main drag is open, and you never see anyone around, which makes for some very good exploring.

The Spring House is a fantastic old hotel high on a hill overlooking the ocean. It is a massive white house, with a red roof, and a big wraparound porch that at times feels like it plunges off into the blank air. In the summer, the Spring Hotel is a hub of activity, and there is an outside bar on the porch, where you can buy expensive cocktails and hang out in a setting that is more beautiful than you can even imagine. The porch has a bright red painted floor, and there’s a ceiling which is painted a light sky blue. It’s very beautiful. It’s gorgeous in the summer, with soft lights and cocktails and the high view of the ocean stretching out before you. It takes on a different character in the off-season, and seems almost haunted. Not by last summer, but by the summer of 1910, perhaps. I was on the red-floored porch and peeked in one of the windows that was not boarded up, and saw an old-school main room, with thick rugs, and old-time chairs and lamps, nothing slick or sleek or modern. It reminds me of those Gone Away Lake books I loved so much as a kid. A lost fragment of a Victorian or Edwardian past, with no reminders that an entire century has gone by. (Factor in that I still have Winter’s Tale on the brain.)

Of course the Spring House is closed for the winter, and I had a great time wandering around the deserted grounds on one misty quiet afternoon. There were moments where I could not tell what decade (or even what century) it was.

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