I arrived in Woods Hole several hours earlier. The bus was crowded enough that I wasn't sure I would make it. I went to the back of the bus before I found the first free seat, and settled in. Only a few minutes later did I notice that I recognized both of the men seated on the seats just across the aisle from me. The odds of us being on the same bus were high; the odds of us finding each other all in the same row were much slimmer. We talked while the bus drove through miles of lush greenery, until we emerged at a small bay, a parking lot surrounded by delicate old buildings, a modestly sized car ferry, and sail boats bobbing on the water. One of the buildings was a bakery, Pie in the Sky (opens at 5 am!), which sold fruit smoothies in all sorts of unexpected berry flavors. I took advantage of their blackberry smoothie and vowed to return some other day for the mint chocolate chip cheesecake brownie. Perhaps tomorrow.
Woods Hole is a small town. The three of us walked past the local NPR headquarters, the Small Boat Museum (in both senses), and not many minutes later, arrived at our hotel. I had time enough to settle in before collecting the astonishingly large binder of readings for the next week and the shuttle van ride to the lovely building where we will be working this week. The sunset streamed in through the half-lowered blinds of the glassed-in porch, illuminating a low bank of clouds into a rich golden orange as it set over an outstretch of land. We had all arrived, instructures and participants, writers and historians from at least four different countries, a dozen institutions, junior faculty, post-docs, graduate students, department heads and deans.
And then we ate lobster.