Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"I have traveled a good deal in Concord..."

My high school English teacher loved Walden, and her admiration for the phrase, "I have traveled a good deal in Concord..." has stayed with me. Thoreau went on to say, "and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me to be doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways." Since Concord, MA was home to the Alcott Family, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as Thoreau, traveling in Concord is the opposite of penance, and our recent visit took us to places where that literary richness lives on: the Concord Free Public Library with its marble statue of Emerson and its Thoreau Room, and the Concord Bookshop, an independent store where I loved shopping, meeting booksellers, and signing a few books

We had seen Walden Pond; the Concord Museum; the Old Manse, with Mrs. Hawthorne's enchanting windowpane inscriptions ("Una Hawthorne stood on this window sill January 22d 1845 while the trees were all glass chandeliers -- a goodly show which she liked much tho’ only ten months old"); and the 1775 battlefield site on an earlier trip. (That was fortunate, because this time the Congressional snit had closed the National Parks). It was time for a pilgrimage to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where the writers are neighbors on Authors Ridge. Readers bring pine cones and stones to honor their favorites. Louisa May Alcott had pennies on her grave as well--but Henry David Thoreau also received written messages, and a Thank-You mint.
View from the top of Authors Ridge

The author of Little Women received stones, cones, and pennies.

Henry David Thoreau's grave had a personal Thank-You.