Monday, November 28, 2011

Cole's Hill


Standing on the hill overlooking the top of the portico that houses Plymouth Rock, out past Plymouth Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, the body of water that brought to this land so much disease and destruction. In my mind I take a wide brush and wash it out: how wrong it seems, this little spot where all the tourists gather looking at a small rock that has "1620" engraved upon it and a cement patch holding it together. 

We're here in Plymouth the day after Thanksgiving, or I should say the day after the National Day of Mourning. The day of mourning began when local Wampanoag leader Frank James was silenced by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who deemed his speech about Native peoples too controversial. Since then, Thanksgiving day has been commemorated (according to the article I linked, and because we didn't see it so I don't know for sure) by mostly non-natives to remind us of the real story of the Pilgrims. This plaque on top of Cole's Hill explains...

 Massasoit standing on Cole's Hill 
looking out at a bewildering sight.

I have nothing against Thanksgiving; I look forward to it every year, but I can sympathize with this alternative sentiment; Native peoples sole purpose, it seems, was to lend a hand to those who came ashore; Pilgrims stepped on this hallowed ground and wiped the slate clean—tribes totally obliterated—and gave us their definitive version of history, a version most tourists visiting Plymouth still believe. 

Okay, now that that's aside, let me say we had a good time in Plymouth.

Tom and Maya standing at the Rock

Maya and Katrina taking in the sights

The next day in Providence, we walked out onto the old Gano Street Bridge, over the Providence River, a hangout for RISD and Brown students (and French professors). I was feeling full of thanksgiving for having my husband and kids and their friends around, being all together on this sunny day. The water and sky were an amazing shade of blue. The bridge, stuck in the permanent "up" position, was eerie in the way I remember old mechanical structures of my childhood; monuments to an earlier, more optimistic time (this bridge was part of a huge building project that included an underground tunnel that cut 5000 ft underground, built in 1908 for 2 million dollars). The tunnel is closed, but recently, college students pried the barriers open to find a skeleton of an old police car from an earlier riot and lots of vintage beer bottles. 

Here's some pix from our last day in Providence: (if you click on a pic it will display as a slide show).


  1. Powerful post about our national origin myth. Very interesting. And such warm photos of your gorgeous family. That bridge with its graffiti is amazing.

  2. I'm left full of love for you, and in awe of that family of yours... my god, you are all so beautiful, and so beautiful together. If there was a photo of you, too, it would be absolute. They're new definition of Thanksgiving for me, my friend!
    xxx Alice