Tuesday, August 19, 2008

little children and little women

Here I am with two feet planted firmly at home again. Our getaway was extremely refreshing and offered such a change of pace for both the children and myself.

We ended up staying in New Hampshire for one extra day so that we could swim a bit more on Monday morning and visit a bit longer with family. After that we packed up, with much, much more than what we arrived with, and headed home.

With the open road in front of me, zero time constraints until Tuesday morning and a dead cell phone I decided to take the "long way home" and took a nice detour through Concord, MA.

My original plan was to find Walden Pond and walk the area, see the pond and visit the cabin where Henry David Thoreau spent his two years "living deliberately" in solitude in the woods. I think his reasons for doing so went something like this...
I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to suck the marrow from the bones of life; to put to rout all that was not life, and not to come to the end of life, and discover that I had not lived.
- Henry David Thoreau
Often I am determined to do the same. To live life deliberately, consciously choosing where I will expend my time, energy, resources, creativity, knowledge and love. Some would call it living life to the fullest. For me, there is such a terrible dissappointment for me when I look back on the day and feel that I have been dragged along by the currents of life's busyness and have frittered time, energy and money away.

As we drove along the famous Battle Road that leads to and from Boston, I was overwhelmed by just how much history surrounded us. At that point it became a free for all and any stop was fair game.

Would I stop at the Minute Man National Park or hike one of the trails along Battle Road? My mind was decided as to where our afternoon would be spent as soon as I saw this sign
It was the home of Louisa May Alcott during the time in which she authored Little Women in 1872. I just had to stop.

I can remember reading this book over several times during at about 10 or 11 and always loved reading about the relationships and lives of the March sisters as they grew from childhood to adulthood.

I was feeling brave and decided to buy tickets for the official tour of the Alcott home. I just had to see where Little Women was written. This was one seriously brazen move. I would be bringing a two year old into a historic house where over 80% of the items were original artifacts. In plain English this meant don't even think of touching one darn thing in here!!!!

Of course this meant nothing to Elias who lasted about 90 seconds into the tour before rolling around on the softly worn wooden floors and making noises that sounded more animal than human. We were kindly and quickly offered an abbreviated tour in which we could still learn about the family and their home.

I was determined to take in the moment and learn about the life of Louisa May Alcott and despite holding a squirming, wriggling, grunting toddler under one arm, I really did.

I must mention that Sophia and Nicolas were nothing but mannerly and considerate during the entire experience. They were as excited as I was at the idea of entering this old, beautiful house, even though they did not know the history behind it all.

Being able to enter Louisa May Alcott's bedroom and actually stand within inches of the desk where she wrote Little Women when she was 35 years old was one of the highlights of my summer thus far. Here is a photo.

One of the most fascinating pieces I saw there was the children's schedule posted on the parent's bedroom wall. It was an hour-by-hour schedule for each child containing everything from their chores, school lessons and exercise schedules. The guide told us that Louisa would wake at 5am every morning for a run around the grounds and a cold bath in the creek! She would then begin her (home)schooling routine and continue on with chores and then more schooling.

This is what she had to say about one of her early morning runs...

“ I had an early run in the woods before the dew was off the grass. The moss was like velvet, and as I ran under the arches of yellow and red leaves I sang for joy, my heart was so bright and the world so beautiful. ... A very strange and solemn feeling came over me as I stood there, with no sound but the rustle of the pines, no one near me, and the sun so glorious as for me alone. It seemed as if I felt God as I never did before, and I prayed in my heart that I might keep that happy sense of nearness all my life.” ~Louisa May Alcott, age 12
Although this type of routine would not exactly work for our family in the modern world, it has inspired me enough to see the enormous potential, resiliency and strength that lie within my children. Just what I need to carry with me as we look the upcoming school year in the eyes.


Sharon B said...

Wow, what a fabulous way to spend a day...even with a little tiger cub in your arms.

Jackie said...

someday the "little one" will enjoy experiences like that too. i'm glad you braved it with him and lived to tell us of your incredible experience. how lovely.

Amanda L. said...

How wonderful! I have only been into the little school house and gift shop {of course}..never the real tour. It's so beautiful up there! Minute Man park is amazing too..save that for another trip.

Daniele said...

what a lovely day! thanks for sharing.

Chuck said...

What an awesome quote- and by a 12 year old none the less. If only we took the time to feel/hear that still small voice during every moment of the day - what a relationship with God we would all have. Thanks for sharing your getaway with us all.

J-momma said...

i love Thoreau.

"My desire for knowledge is intermitten; but my desire to commune with the spirit of the universe, to be intoxicated with the fumes, call it, of that devine nectar, to bear my head through the atmospheres and over heights unknown to my feet, is perennial and constant."

one of my favorite quotes.

Kristen Taylor said...

"For me, there is such a terrible dissappointment for me when I look back on the day and feel that I have been dragged along by the currents of life's busyness and have frittered time, energy and money away."

so very .. very true..

great entry!

sorichfamily said...

i loved reading about your experience and your willingness to LIVE!! what an amazing day. i will now add it to my New England "must-see" list! thank you for sharing it!

ps...i love that book too! and good luck with this 08/09 school year...i'm sure it will be great!

Jessica Torrant said...

What a beautifully written post, Jill. I loved every inch of it and thought back to us in English class and our shared love for the written word. Just being in that area, driving around in the golden, late summer light must have been so intoxicating. And as for the tour, good for you! I can just picture your face trying to remain calm and gathered as your "tiger cub" (love that, sharon b!) squirmed away. hehe It's funny because everything is funny between us. ;)

I'm sure this will open a new door for Sophia as well as Nicholas. Much love to all of you!! xoxox Jess

Charles and Rebecca said...

I loved, loved, loved her books, along with Little House books, I think LMA's books were the ones I always would re-read when life got complicated during those teen years. "Comfort Food"!

Sounds like a great field trip. :)

I also was so encouraged at her age when she felt the presence of our Lord! We have been talking about what it really means to have Jesus inside you - living & experiencing your life with you just as he said.

Here's to a great '09 homeschool year!