Tuesday, September 11, 2012

a road trip! Part 4

Besides all of the revolutionary significance in the area there is a rich literary history as well. In Concord in the mid-1800s the Transcendental movement was in full swing supported and spurred on by local heroes Louisa May Alcott, her father Bronson, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Not only were they literary giants but they were philosophers and trend-setters; naturalists, vegetarians, abolitionists.

Their homes are all open for tours now and you can see where Hawthorne's wife inscribed poems and thoughts on the window panes of the Old Manse with her diamond ring. But my favorite was Orchard House, the home immortalized in Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women. She modeled the story after the portion of her own life spent with her sisters in the home and walking its halls is like stepping into the story. Amy's drawings (Alcott's artistic sister was actually named May) are all over the house scrawled on firescreens and door frames. Beth's piano is in the corner. Alcott's/Jo's writing desk is under the window. It's so amazing to be able to see where and get a taste of how such classics were created.

The Old Manse
Orchard House

I first read Walden in high school and I've returned to it many times over the years.  There's just something about it that speaks to me on various levels. So I was thrilled to visit the site of the famous cabin and walk along the banks of pond for myself. I was surprised at how big it was (in my mind 'pond' = 'little') and to see people swimming and rafting and sunbathing. But the woods were beautiful and still and there were pockets of privacy even along the shoreline where you could almost imagine what Thoreau's view might have been like all those years ago.

In the sunshine and the stillness one could easily understand his sentiments, "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."

I'll leave you with a few more of my favorite words from Walden:

No method nor discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert.

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.

In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Here's to a little more time in the woods!

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