Jennifer Bisbing • Writer • Editor

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40 Miles Square

Forgive my generalization—New Englanders do not butcher the English language nearly as much as the Midwestern stock I socialize with. “Moseying down the hill” is not a phrase I’ve ever heard muttered in Chicago. But while I drank coffee in a neighborhood coffee shop, Seven Star Bakery featured in Dan in Real Life, the Rhode Island accent distracted me from my James Joyce chapter to the point where Ireland and Providence were blurred together in mind.

Along the highways, the tree line hides the suburbs like there is a secret society that the tourist is not allowed to see. I must admit the roads in Rhode Island turn me around in circles—I have trouble getting my bearings without the lake to the east. I have made unplanned excursions to Massachusetts.

I understand the draw for writers to these parts. Small towns pop up seemingly randomly as I travel from the city to Barrington. There is a horse ranch that Hadley seems fond of to the point I think she may have named the horses she has never met. Hadley is six. We had a persistent four-leaf clover hunt together and shared time in the grass looking at the clouds. If only we could all see the sky as Hadley does—her repeated refrain was: “I love clouds!”

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