Reason: To visit Emerson & Thoreau
My personal journal excerpts are in bold only to create a recognizable difference between them and others quotes.
September 9th, 2018 Concord, MA 10:08 am chilly ~ Flew into Boston yesterday. Went straight to Plymouth.
Walked around the Cape and found Plymouth Rock. It was windy and chilly. The bay was filled with little boats and sail boats They sat out in the water which made us wonder if the tide retreats far enough for the owner to walk to them or if they need another boat to get to their own.
Got to Concord around 6:30pm. Went to dinner on the Monument Square, Colonial Inn which was built in 1716.
There are actually three diners inside, one a tavern. I had wanted to eat in the tavern, but it was too crowded that night due to live music being performed. Worked out even better eating in the room we chose.
Boston to Plymouth to Concord
The Mayflower had around 130 passengers when it left England in September of 1620. By the end of the Pilgrims first winter only 53 living passengers remained.
Over five million Indigenous People lived in what would become conterminous United States of America in the 1500’s. Only 600,000 remained by the 1800’s, a reduction of 90%. 
2:04 pm- Walked to Orchard House. It was around a mile I think. Hawthorne lived behind them at “Wayside House”. I didn’t go and just took pictures of Emerson’s house on my way back to Monument Square.
I certainly did feel that my belief that I “had to come here” was confirmed while I was in the Alcott home. As if I truly have been connected to their ideals, their philosophy. As if I was born with these thoughts and through their writings I was able to connect to that thread. I am not meant to write to entertain, but to hopefully inspire.
Concord: Orchard House & Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Orchard House was built late 1600’s to 1700. The Alcott’s lived in the home from 1858-1877. Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” in 1868. The book we know here in the United States was originally written in two parts. “Little Women” gained such popularity, Alcott was inundated with fan mail and demands from her publisher to write a second book to answer the question on the minds of all her readers, who did Meg, Jo, and Amy marry? There also existed a great expectation that Jo would marry Laurie, the well to do young man who lived next door to the March family. Louisa found joy in having Jo marry a poor German immigrant, Laurie she gave to the youngest sister Amy. Louisa’s father Bronson Alcott was a founder of Transcendentalism and brought to Concord by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a great philosopher and teacher and credited with such education reforms as recess and discussion as a form of education for children. The family financially struggled severely until the publications of his daughter.
“Nothing is impossible to a determined woman” ~ Louisa May Alcott
“A true teacher defends his students against his own personal influences” ~Amos Bronson Alcott
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery Concord was dedicated in 1855 with a speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson himself. The cemetery design focuses on a deep connection to nature with native plants and trees instead of modern landscaping found in many cemeteries. This was a Transcendental philosophical objective, not so much for the dead but for the living. The following is an excerpt of Emerson’s speech at the Cemetery consecration on September 25th 1855-
“ I suppose all of us will readily admit the value of parks and cultivated grounds to the pleasure and education of the people, but I have heard it said here that we would gladly spend for a park for the living, but not for a cemetery; a garden for the living, a home of thought and friendship. Certainly the living need it more than the dead; indeed, to speak precisely, it is given to the dead for the reaction of benefit on the living. But it the direct regard to the living be thought expedient, that is also in your power. This ground is happily so divided by Nature as to admit of this relation between the Past and the Present.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Day Three: Walden Pond
It was a slightly steep walk down from the road into the woods. Such beautiful woods. We could see the pond as we declined though turned to the right to follow the path to the cabin site. We saw a chipmunk with an acorn jammed into her mouth, she scampered away from us down a hill toward the pond. The woods are somewhat dense, so the trees are tall to compete for light. Rocks everywhere. Oaks, pines, and birch. I replayed as much of Thoreau’s observations as we went on. So excited to see “his” woods- they had little reason to change. The only effects of time on this place was people. The cars that pollute and kill the woodland creatures- the visitors who didn’t understand the virtue of mutual respect for the land- the hundreds plus years of being industrially revolutionized that brought about a climate change intended for at least a thousand years from now.
We were soon cresting a ridge. I clung to Dan’s arm just as I had in going to see the grave stones on Author’s Ridge. Had it been for any other reason I would have turned around. But this, this was a calling to be here. My journey required it.
The homes, the graves, even the reproduced cabin all created a complex of emotions within me.
I felt overwhelmed, at times connected to those who names covered plaques and stone- still I remained stable.
The cabin site however proved to be the moment of the deepest connection. Simply pillars and chains. 10’ x 15’ with signs with explanations. This was the moment my face became covered with tears, my chest sunk as it filled with air and I rejoiced that I had made it to this place. Bronson Alcott’s memorial of stones proved the most beautiful means of honoring one of our fore fathers of free thought.
Personal notes left on rock covered the mass. Notes to a man that some to this day still render a kind of prophet.
Minute Man National Park and The Olde Manse
April 18th, 1775- Two riders were sent to warn the impending arrival of the British. William Dawes and Paul Revere. Revere never actually shouted “The British Are Coming”, as this was in-fact a truly discreet operation. A third rider, Samuel Prescott reached Concord- the following battle was won by the Americans and continued all the way back to Boston.
The Olde Manse was built by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather Reverend William Emerson in 1770.
Ralph lived in the home and wrote “Nature” in his writing room on the second floor.
Nathaniel Hawthorne rented the home after marrying his wife Sophia Peabody. Nathaniel used the same writing room as Emerson and wrote Mosses from an Old Manse and my personal favorite Rappaccini’s Daughter (among others), while living there. He and Sophia’s first daughter was born during their time in the home.
Salem, MA- The House of Seven Gables and Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace
The House of Seven Gables was built by shipping merchant John Turner in 1668. Hawthorne wrote the book, The House of Seven Gables in 1851.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birth home was moved in 1958 to become the House of Seven Gables new neighbor after a church inherited the home and intended to bulldoze it to make a parking lot.
I met Louisa May Alcott when I was 7 years old when I read “Little Women”, I met Emerson and Thoreau when I was 15. It was absolutely worth the wait to visit them. Then again, timing is everything and everything….does…happen for a reason. “Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason“~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Audrey L Elder
Living Life Outside the Box