Travel

Pilgrimage to Massachusetts:  A postcard summary

Alcott house during a 7-month failed utopian experiment at Fruitlands

My first travel discovery was a shift in language; the journey defined not as a trip, or a vacation or even a history tour but as “pilgrimage.”  For the 15 of us, this was a time to immerse ourselves in stories; to amble the same path as Henry David Thoreau trod along the shores of Walden pond; to climb the same steep, narrow wooden stairs to the Arlington Street Church bell tower and ring the same bells that would have gathered people to hear William Ellery Channing speak; to saunter through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and touch the gravestone of Louisa May Alcott. 

Some highlights of our days of pilgrimage:

New England stone wall on the Emerson-Thoreau Amble
  • King’s Chapel – touched the last bell cast and hung by Paul Revere
  • Arlington Street Church – tried my hand at ringing three of the 16 bells
  • Mount Auburn Cemetery – left memorial bouquets at the graves of William Ellery Channing, Hosea Ballou, John Murray, and Margaret Fuller
  • Walden Pond – walked the entire pond and left a Winona river rock at the stone cairn close to the site of Thoreau’s cabin where he lived for 2 years, 2 months and 2 days
  • Old Manse – saw the desks where Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter and Emerson wrote Nature
  • Sleepy Hollow Cemetery – discovered that as they were neighbors in life, so too they are neighbors today as we visited Authors Row and the family plots of the Alcotts, Thoreaus, Emersons, and Peabodys leaving pencil homages for Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Elizabeth Peabody.
First Parish in Concord after vespers on the evening of our departure

Our days were filled visiting churches, graveyards and cemeteries (learning these two are different from one another) and touring the homes of literary giants.  All the while hearing concise history lessons laced with anecdotes that put flesh and bone to revered names and made them quirkily human.  We benefited from bookstore visits, invigorating conversations, time for quiet reflection, and the recitation of poetry.

The Road
The road waits. 
... when it invites you
to dance at daybreak, say yes.
Each step is the journey; a single note the song.
-	Arlene Gay Levine

P.S.  And six of us hopped the green line to Fenway for a Red Sox win.  The green monster is really monstrously tall!

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