Fisherman's Cove is idyllic. On the list of New England's most idyllic places, there's maybe Rockport, Massachusetts and then Fisherman's Cove in Newport and then, I don't know, your grandmother's cottage in East Sandwich. Fisherman's Cove has fishermen and their boats to start with: authentic fishermen fresh off their authentic boats and they'll show off their authentic harvest of striped bass if you ask them nicely. There's also plenty of rocks. It wouldn't really be a New England shoreline scene without them. So rocks are essential and this place has them. They're craggy and black and the seaweed clings to them like their little seaweed lives depend on it and it probably does. There's a road curving idyllically by it and summer houses perched like sentinels anywhere the land rises high enough to afford a view or enough height above sea level to avoid the highest of high tides. Fishermen's Cove is idyllic and I'm really wasting my time and yours trying to describe just how idyllic because if a picture is worth a thousand words then the high definition spherical panorama above is worth well over 10 million.
When we took this photograph, we'd just finished taking a similar one a few hundred yards away, across the road in Gooseneck Cove. Gooseneck Cove is not quite as high on the idyllic meter as Fishermen's. It lacks those authentic fishermen for one thing. They can't get their authentic boats into it because despite the fact that the two coves are connected by water, the water flows through two culverts and their boats don't fit through them. Imagine it this way: the open ocean (open at least until you run into Long Island) connected to Fishermen's Cove connected to Gooseneck Cove.
I mention the culverts because they're really important as culverts go. These culverts, especially the new one which affords a more direct line for water to travel between the two coves is so important that important people like Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island know all about it. He could probably describe in some detail the impact that this particular culvert is having on the ecosystem of this particular cove, not because he's an expert on such matters but because he was recently involved in creating the political will and financial wherewithal to bring this particular culvert into existence. It's an important culvert.
The idea to add this culvert came from one of the world's most successful environmental organizations, Rhode Island's own Save the Bay. They rock as environmental orgs go. They bend the ears and twist the arms of people like Senator Jack Reed for one and call it advocacy for one. They take school children out on the bay and dump live sea critters into their laps and call it education for another. As if that's not enough, they spend a great deal of effort planting eelgrass and monitoring its return in places like Gooseneck Cove and call it restoration. They really should be describing their three pronged approach to saving the bay themselves. Visit their website and let them tell you all about it .... but back to the story of our new culvert.
Why a new culvert? Not to put too fine a scientific point on it, the culvert lets in more sea water. The sea water makes life uncomfortable for the invasive phragmites grass choking the cove. Phragmites slowly turns the cove from a thriving complex ecosystem into a wet equivalent of a cornfield, pretty and green and consisting only of grass and a few red winged blackbirds. Build a culvert. The salt water enters. The phragmites goes away. The eelgrass come back with a little help from Save the Bay and their happy legions of eelgrass volunteers and before you know it all of the little creatures that like to live in eelgrass come back as well. Job done! Cove restored! Fishermen, tourists and photographers flock and Senator Jack Reed runs for reelection on an environmental platform.
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