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Thursday, February 7, 2013

New England Adventure-Day 3



Day 3 – Monday, October 9, 2006

It was only an hour’s drive to Walden’s Pond.  Once off the Interstate we could not find the Route number when we came to a crossroads.  After driving a bit and not seeing a road sign we turned around and went the other direction.  I spotted a sign, “Concord Road”, and since that’s the direction we wanted we decided to follow it.  After half an hour we came to a road that we should not have come to, according to the map, but at least we knew where we were.  We took a right and within a few blocks we found the Route we had been looking for and were soon at Walden’s Pond just a mile down the road.  We were out on the path walking along the Pond by 9:15.  I cannot do it justice so I will not try to describe the serenity of the Pond (you must read Thoreau's account).  There were not very many people there yet, so it was not hard to imagine being in Thoreau’s time as we walked near the water’s edge along the path that was fenced in on both sides to protect the vegetation.  We could see a small electric-powered boat in the middle of the pond with a fellow at one end of a fishing pole....

Every so often we’d come upon stone steps leading down to the water’s edge.  At the bottom of the step you could see the bottom of the Pond several feet down....

When we got to the spot where Thoreau’s cabin had been we discovered a pile of rocks with a sign explaining that generations of people had added stones to mark their visit....

We walked down to the water’s edge and sat on a tree’s outgrown roots and contemplated the serenity for quite awhile....

The sun was sending sparkles across the lake that stirred my imagination.  I noted that it looked like fairies coming ashore for lunch....

We continued on around the lake stopping from time to time to view the Pond from its different vistas.  In this photo that's not the sky, it's the bottom of the Pond....

I let my imagination run wild and imagined this to be the entrance to a fairy house....

Finally, as we neared the end of the circuit Ken decided he had to put his feet in the pond.  We’d already seen some people swimming in the pond.  At it's deepest the pond is 103 feet deep—a “kettle pond”—and quite cold because of it....

By now it was starting to get crowded—it was Columbus Day and Walden Pond is a popular recreational destination.  After a visit to the gift shop we drove into Concord—just a couple miles up the road and found a small French bakery/cafe to have lunch.  HERE is more information on Walden's Pond.

We decided not to return to the Pond because of the crowds so we elected to tour Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s house in Concord, rather than waiting until Tuesday as I’d planned.  It was an interesting tour of her house—listening to the guide tell anecdotes from the family’s life and viewing the rooms where so much of Little Women had “taken place.”  To stand in her bedroom where she wrote her story was stirring....

We were also shown the School of Philosophy that her father, Bronson Alcott, had built on the property....

This little girl, in period dress, sat under this tree the whole time we were there....

At the gift shop I bought a copy of Louisa May Alcott's first book, published when she was 22, Flower Fables, with her father’s help.  I told the clerk that Louisa and I, as well as Louisa's father, all shared the same birthday.  I asked if that got me a discount.  Alas, no.  Anyway, Louisa wrote the stories for her friend Ellen Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s daughter, who had asked her to write down the stories she would tell about the fairies that lived in the woods of Walden Pond.  Thoreau would take the Emerson and Alcott children on nature walks and spoke of the woods as Fairyland.  This brought to mind my remark earlier in the day as I sat by the Pond declaring that the fairies were coming ashore for lunch!  More on Orchard House can be found HERE

We went back to the little cafe for coffee and pastries while we decided what to do next.  I wondered if the Emerson house might be open even though their website said they were closed on Mondays since the brochure I’d picked up earlier in the day said they were open on holidays.  This being Columbus Day we gathered up our things and headed back to Lexington Street.  The Emersons lived just up the street from the Alcotts.  It was open!  So we took that tour and found it most interesting....

The connection between Thoreau, the Alcotts, and Emerson was getting clearer.  It must have been an exciting place to be in the 1850’s and 60’s and 70’s!  More about Emerson can be found HERE.
  
We also toured the Concord Museum across the street where they had artifacts from Thoreau and Emerson as well as the lantern immortalized by Longfellow’s poem Paul Revere’s Ride.  A reproduction of Emerson's library can be seen HERE at Concord Museum.

It was now almost 5:00 and we had dinner reservations at The Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA at 7:00 where we were spending the night.  This was the Inn that was immortalized by Longfellow’s poem Tales of the Wayside Inn.  We were now about to make another connection between our day’s visit of the various houses and museum by bringing Longfellow into the picture.  But first, we had to stop in at Walden’s Pond because we decided we wanted to add our own stones to the pile.  I later discovered that Walt Whitman had put a stone on the pile during his 1881 visit.

We arrived just after 5:00 and made the short walk to the house site, this time through the woods from the road.  Along the way a fellow in walking gear, noticing we looked lost, offered to show us the best way to our destination.  He said he'd been driving past the Pond for years on his way home from work when one day he decided to stop.  He's been walking around the Pond every day after work for several years now.  When we got our bearings we parted his company and proceeded to the house site, set our stones....

....and headed back along the path by the Pond....

All the good stone steps had been taken by others—some who were going in for a swim, others sitting with notebook in hand so I dipped my foot at the beach....

 ....and then we were on our way to The Wayside Inn....




We carried in our luggage to Room #1 and dressed for dinner.  Ken went on ahead to the Old Bar Room to have “America’s first cocktail”-- a Coow Woow which was three parts Rum and one part Ginger Brandy....


Every room in the Inn was quaint.  We ate by candlelight.  Ken had lobster pie and I had a traditional Yankee Pot Roast with mashed potatoes and Baked Indian Pudding for dessert. This is the dining room by daylight....

This mural was painted in the hallway....

Back in the room Ken was looking for the extra pillows and came upon the Secret Drawer Society!  The top drawer of the dresser was filled with letters dating back to 1986 from guests who had stayed in Room #1.  Most wrote about their surprise at finding the drawer, told about their reasons for being there, and even expressed feelings about various things.  One gentleman wrote about how much he loved his wife.  A young woman wrote about her love for her boyfriend but didn’t feel she’d told him just how much she did love him.  She hoped to marry him and left a blank area at the bottom of the note to be continued upon her return as his wife, which after 5 years had not be written upon.  I only got through about two dozen letters by the next morning before we had to be on our way again.  Ken had already fallen asleep by the time I set the letters aside.  As I climbed into the four-poster bed (it came with a step stool) I heard male voices coming up through the floor grate by my side of the bed.  I heard them talking about the Yankees—no doubt discussing their loss and subsequent elimination from the World Series contention.  However, the next morning as I read more letters I discovered several that spoke of a ghost named Jerusha who was rumored to have visited the room.  Maybe it wasn’t those Yankees the pair were discussing after all!!  Ken and I both took a few minutes to write our missives for the SDS.  This is what he wrote:

I have walked on the shores of Walden Pond and splashed
my feet in it's cool clear water.  I have visited with
Alcott, Emerson, and Thoreau and tonight will sleep in
Longfellow's Wayside Inn.

Simplify, Simplify -- H. D. Thoreau

Today I stand on Concord's North Bridge
Where British and Colonial stood on opposite ridge
For Liberty, Peace the Colonials Stood
And shed their blood on this ancient wood
They willed us Freedom and liberty
And paid the price - It is not free.

This is what I wrote:

If by chance we shall meet again
I will leave my note for all to find
I've come to see--to search--begin
A new life from all I've left behind.

My children grown--all fine young men
No longer need my care and nurture
I've come to be inspired and then
Perhaps find what lies in my future.

Sparkles on Walden Pond I saw
Like fairies coming ashore for lunch--
I was amazed, and stared in awe--
Looking for berries, I had a hunch.

And then the S.D.S. to find
And read the musings of so many--
The kindred spirits and like kind....................................................
To live a purposeful life one must live life on purpose.

You can read about the history of The Wayside Inn HERE.  


It was a magical day in many ways.  We were excited to see what new surprises--good ones like today's--lay ahead for us.

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