Rhode Island’s Ocean and Coastal Magazine

Fall 2020 


In this issue, we explore the trials and tribulations Rhode Islanders have faced during this pandemic. 

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Letter From the Editor

Facing Adversity


The children’s book Zen Shorts includes an old taoist story about a farmer whose horse runs away. His neighbors tell him this is bad luck, but the farmer answers, “Maybe.” Then the horse returns with two other wild horses. The neighbors exclaim that this is such good luck. “Maybe,” the farmer again replies. His son attempts to ride one of the new horses, is thrown off, and breaks his leg. Bad luck. Maybe. And so on. This tale came to my mind when reflecting on this issue of 41°N.

The pandemic has had tragic consequences for people and communities, of course, but it has also managed to get people active outside more, as we see in Meredith Haas’s article, and has even brought families closer together as we see in Elaine Lembo’s article. Both writers found that some businesses had a summer COVID boom as people sought boat and kayak rentals and shopped for outdoor gear. But the crush of people flocking to limited recreation areas and activities has led to everything from littering to parking violations to angry confrontations. Unintended consequences is also a theme running through The Outlaw Ocean, the book we reviewed for this issue, where pressure asserted in one area—using armed guards aboard shipping vessels to curtail piracy, for instance—leads to more pressure in another area—like increased prices for goods transported by sea.

How we deal with adversity is fluid—as Haas reports, people’s reactions in early spring were very different than late summer—and with the pandemic, as with other challenges that you will read about in this issue, we still have a chance to change the ending of the story. Hopefully for the better.

                                  —Monica Allard Cox, Editor

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