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.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.
- Henry David Thoreau
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 12Although 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.