Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Concord, MA - Geeking Out Over the Transcendentalists and the American Revolution

Have you ever planned to do something really awesome, and then when you went to do that really awesome thing, like ten more awesome things happened?

That was barely coherent. Sorry. My head is still spinning from our trip to Concord, MA on Saturday. So. Much. Awesomeness.

We've been watching the Liberty's Kids series to prep for all of the history excursions we knew we'd go on here in New England. So Saturday, we were going to see the Revolutionary War sites at Lexington and Concord. That was the really awesome thing we planned. 

Then I realized that Walden Pond was there, too. I've had a historical crush on Henry David Thoreau for pretty much ever, and I've always wanted to see Walden Pond. Yay!

Massachusetts hoards history like Oregon hoards trees. It turns out that Massachusetts also hoards literary geniuses. Henry David Thoreau (historical crush), Ralph Waldo Emerson (even bigger historical crush), Nathaniel Hawthorne ("The Scarlet Letter"), and Lousia May Alcott ("Little Women") are all buried here. In the same cemetery! 

In fact, they were all friends with each other right there in Concord when they were alive. How did I not know this? Can you imagine those dinner parties!? 

So we added all of their sites onto our itinerary for the day.   

I'm afraid I'll just start getting all goofy and blathery if I try to describe how geeked out I was with all of this, so I'll just keep it brief in the photo captions. It's fair to say that this was our most exciting history excursion of our trip so far. And beautiful, too. Concord is just gorgeous.

First, we went to Minute Man National Historical Park. Great multi-media show about the first Revolutionary battles at the visitor center there. We got to walk along part of Paul Revere's midnight ride route and see the site where he was captured by the British. I didn't remember from my education that he was captured. He was let go a few hours later. 

Next we went to Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. Beautiful spot. I wouldn't mind being buried there. Right next to Emerson, please.
The Thoreau family gravesite. I love how each family member has a little grave marker with their first name.

Rather fitting, I thought, for the man who encouraged people to "Simplify, simplify."

The Alcott family gravesite, right next to the Thoreaus. 
And the Hawthornes are right across the walkway. 

BoyWonder standing right in between the Alcott and Hawthorne gravesites. Someday he'll know how incredibly cool this is.
The Emerson family site is a little ways farther up the ridge. Large family. The big granite stone is Ralph Waldo Emerson's gravestone.

His epitaph includes a line from a poem:
THE PASSIVE MASTER LENT HIS HAND
TO THE VAST SOUL THAT O'ER HIM PLANNED.
While we were standing there, a woman came up and placed something on his gravestone. I hadn't wanted to get that close (I always feel funny about walking right on top of a person's burial site) but I had to see what was there. A quarter, an acorn, and some dried fruit left by admirers. Sweet. 



Emerson's house. Closed. Sad. But still cool. :)
Louisa May Alcott's "Orchard House." Gah! We may have to go back so we can take a tour here. 

Next we went to the visitor's center at the Old North Bridge, where "the shot heard round the world" took place. So good to see history in real life. For me, at least. I tend to forget rather important details like what exactly led to Paul Revere's ride. The British were going to Concord to confiscate weapons that the colonists were stockpiling. This was one of the actual canons that the colonists were hiding. 

Patriot militia man. I'm thinking all that wool must have been terribly itchy.
British "Redcoat." Again, itchy. So thankful to live in the age of cotton and acrylic.
This monument is on one side of the North Bridge, where the colonists confronted the British and "the shot heard round the world" was fired, marking the first day of battle in the Revolutionary War.


View from the bridge. We were fortunate to have a gorgeous 65 degree day. Just lovely.
Home near the bridge called The Manse. The family that lived in this house actually witnessed the famed battle.
And whose house was it? Rev. William Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson's GRANDFATHER!
COME. ON. How much history can there be in one spot?! 

It really is a lovely place, despite it's bloody history.

It was a bit surreal to stand there in such a historically significant spot, picturing the soldiers and militia facing each other right there and the tension that must have filled the air that day. 

And even weirder to watch your kid, who barely has a clue about what we're doing there, innocently toss sticks in the water. 
Even the girls, who thought it was "cool," can't get a full sense of the significance I don't think. This kind of history becomes so much more appreciable as you get older. 


That's where it happened. Right there on that innocuous-looking bridge. A story I've heard or read multiple times during my 38 years, but could never really picture until now. Amazing.

Our final stop for the day: Walden Pond. Here the kids and I stand in front of a replica of Henry David Thoreau's tiny, self-built cabin, where he lived and wrote for two years.
We just missed being able to go inside before they locked it for the night, so we just peeked through the windows.
He asked me to dance. Such a gentleman. How could I refuse? 

Walking to the pond. I thought Thoreau would appreciate BoyWonder's stick collection. 
The sun was beginning to set when we got there. 

Visiting Walden Pond was one of my bucket list items. The sunset felt like a gift. See? Thoreau loves me.

This is my favorite photo. I love how you can't tell where the leaves end and the sunset reflection begins.
"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." - Henry David Thoreau
 Amen to that.

2 comments :

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  2. I'm finally in a position to read and enjoy this post. So glad I waited. This is rich. By the time you got to Thoreau and Walden Pond my eyes were getting misty. As I get older, American history feels more and more like a yesterday that happened shortly before I was born rather than distant stories of some folks who didn't have electricity. - Heidi

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