Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday in Concord

October is my favorite time to visit Concord, Mass., and the weather yesterday was crisp and perfect, not a cloud in the sky.

I'd happily settle in Concord if the commute wasn't such an issue for my husband. I can imagine us living in one of the wonderful old houses in town. I'd go all Transcendental and literary, volunteering at local museums and dotting our yard with pumpkins at this time of year. I might even rent or borrow a few genteel daughters to make our household more Alcott-y and picturesque. And poor: genteel poverty is an essential if unfortunate element of this elaborate fantasy. Still, I would not encourage my husband to become a Utopian, like Bronson Alcott. I do like being able to count on at least three meals a day.

(Since I don't drive, I'd have to get around on a bike. But I might also get a pony. I've always wanted my own pony, but it's tougher to find a stable in Back Bay than it is to rent a parking space. But I digress...)

Here's our first view of Concord yesterday, after we parked near the old churchyard:

A sun-dappled old house with a sun face on the door and a pumpkin on the stoop. The trees are just beginning to turn yellow and red, but there are already small piles of leaves to kick up on the ground. We also saw this house with an array of pumpkins above the door and on the steps:

Our first destination was Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and Authors' Ridge. It was a good day to be in the cemetery — so brilliantly sunny and breezy that it was impossible to feel the least bit morbid:

Does this tombstone point the way to heaven, or is the late Sarah saying, "Hey, hold on a minute! I want a time-out here!"?

On the way to Authors' Ridge, we passed this surprisingly art-nouveau Civil War memorial. It was erected as a monument to three brothers who died in battle, by the remaining brother who survived. Imagine losing three of your four sons — or all of your brothers — to war.

Here's Thoreau's grave. It seems that his pilgrims like to leave him tributes of pebbles and pinecones, for a messy effect that I doubt he would have tolerated in life, being something of a minimalist in his day:

There's a convenient bench by the Alcott family's tombs, where you can enjoy the timeless solitude of the place. That flag is over Louisa's white marble slab, because she was a Union Army nurse.

Our tranquility was interrupted by high-spirited motorcycle gang that congregated near the gate leading to Author's Ridge. They didn't seem like fans of Little Women, The Scarlett Letter, or Walden, but you never know. We visited the graves of Mr. Emerson and the Hawthornes and then went into town to check out the bookstores, new and used — a gentle transition back into the 21st century.

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