|There is more than day to dawn.
The sun is but a morning star.
<May 8, 2001>
I discovered many a site for a house not likely to be soon
improved, which some might have thought too far from the village, but
to my eyes the village was too far from it. Well, there I might live,
I said; and there I did live, for an hour, a summer and a winter life;
saw how I could let the years run off, buffet the winter through, and
see the spring come in.
...a house whose inside is as open and manifest as a bird's nest, and you cannot go in at the front door and out at the back without seeing some of its inhabitants; where to be a guest is to be presented with the freedom of the house. (HDT)
It is time that villages were universities, and their elder inhabitants the fellows of universities, with leisure--if they are, indeed, so well off--to pursue liberal studies the rest of their lives. Shall the world be confined to one Paris or one Oxford forever? Cannot students be boarded here and get a liberal education under the skies of Concord? (HDT)
Without a doubt Walden is the place that made the trip. Its waters and shore are so natural you can't help but feel calm while there.
Walking along the path, feeling the wind blow all over the water and through your hair, you can imagine what it was like when Thoreau was there. After all the projects to restore the pond, it is possible that the pond is now as it was 100+ years before.
...the pond is partially visible through the trees. The path goes downward from the site to the shore, curving a few feet from the shore. Standing on the hill allows you to see the pond pretty well. The shoreline on the opposite bank is visible. Sand creeps along the edge. Four stone pillars mark the location of Thoreau's hut and four smaller ones designate his shed. Logs and leaves cover this area. The giant rock pile sits to the right.
From 100 meters closer I can see the same things except that looking back at the site you can tell that even if there weren't signs telling you that this was an important place, you could tell that something significant was there. Maybe a good comparison might be Greek mythology, with the gods living on Mount Olympus and the people living below in awe. It was like looking up at Olympus, you know something big was there even if you couldn't actually touch it.
The house is large like the last we visited. There is a chair made of an oak tree so that the tree is the back of the chair, with two sticks bent on either side for the arms, which come down to meet the actual seat.
In reality the house was right on the main road and didn't seem as lively as I had imagined it to be. I could see at one time how so many talented people would be successful there because of its simplicity and beautiful location.
The town is picture perfect: perfect lawns and gardens, smells like flowers. (Tirra)
Little Women was written here. I visited this house with my mom when I was little. Many maple and oak trees around, and many flowers. A beautiful place. To have knowledge is a great gift but to be able to apply it is a far greater skill.
After a few minutes of walking around I thought I would pick up a few rocks to see if maybe I could find it. Only about the third rock I picked up was the winning one. Everyone moaned as I quietly said I had the rock.
The graveyard is upon a hill, looking out over the rooftops. The ground is crowded with thin stones that appear to be tipping over. The graveyard is simplistic and lacks modification, fitting for the graves of great authors... (Kayla)
It was time to go. I took one last look at Thoreau's house and shed and left. We had conquered Walden Pond. On the bus we asked where the last rock was. It was the rock we had tried to get out of the rock stump. We were there, but we didn't get it. So now we ride home knowing that a rock was left behind...
|It's every English teacher's dream to take a class of students to Walden at one point in his career.
Today mine came true. With fifteen or so juniors and seniors I made the two-hour literary
excursion to Concord village and Walden Pond. I couldn't have gone with a better group and
we couldn't have had a better day for it.
When we got to the Wayside in Concord, I sent everybody on his or her way--to the authors' houses,
the village, and to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where I made my way in haste to check up on a rock
I had laid there with an extra credit opportunity sharpied all over it. I couldn't see myself
passing them on the road without joining them and if I joined them I wouldn't be able to confirm the rock's
location without it being found out. So I took my first right up Ridge road and decided to navigate my
way through the back streets of Concord to the cemetery.
Do all roads lead to the grave? Not Ridge Road. It's a dead end and might have been my grave if I had chosen to
try out all its outlets and culde sacs that morning. But my watch led me in the right direction--to getting there
by 10:15, at least 10 minutes ahead of the group. On my way back down to Elm Street I tried one last potential shortcut,
over the hill on Author's Lane. It had to have something to do with "Author's Ridge," I thought, the burial ground
of the authors at Sleepy Hollow. But it didn't. It was what must have been a suave and charming neighborhood in the
seventies when all we wanted were roads that led nowhere. At its dead end I looked down at a sweaty
tshirt and a watch that didn't agree with me about the time. I had a vague notion that the cemetery was north of the neighborhood, and the house on the north end of the block had a small path around it. I took it, fearing dogs, neighborhood watches, sick schoolchildren questioning me through plexiglass, and fearing most of all apprehension by a zealous New England village cop out looking for such minor violations as trespassing on a Tuesday morning.
When I came over the ridge behind the house, I could see the cemetery, and edging down the landslide-prone hill into the abutting neighborhood, I only ran into one housewife out on her porch, cup of coffee in her hand. I considered the prospect of making a friend by telling her my story, but when she asked what I was doing, I replied, "just taking a hike."
I jogged through the cemetery gate and up to the gravesite where a quiet ten minutes passed between me and Thoreau before Mike and Myles arrived, bewildered at my presence there. The rock was where I wanted it to be. Soon Annelies, Jay, John and Dani strolled up the hill in long strides to increase their chances, and as soon as people started getting warm I
walked away, happy to know that I'd soon hear one happy voice through the trees, exclaiming, "I found it!" Well done, Annelies.
Back at the bus, the driver mused on how the British soldiers marched right past our parking spot two hundred and thirty years ago to collect taxes and wage war, while I mused on how Alcott must have collected butterflies and waged more fictional battles among the sisters in that very spot. When I moaned of hunger at eleven, he sent me to the Alcott house where the gift shop sold the most well-preserved and smoothest shortbread cookies. I spread out under some fruit tree--I knew not which, and waited for the others to come, two, three, four at a time. When the bus was boarded and the count made, we deduced that Trish, Leigh, Jen, and Christina were still out there about town. I got off the bus and walked to the corner, where down at the end of the road, just at the bend by Emerson's house, I could see the four little women coming, mad at each other for being late. I squinted my eyes and imagined Beth, Amy, Jo, and Meg there racing past the house, but somehow the backpacks and the automobiles and the Logan-bound DC-10 overhead couldn't be shut out of my squinting. Nor could the roar of the bus when Lenny fired it up.
At Walden we raced to the rock pile looking for more stones to uncover at the house site. Jay, Dani, and eventually Mike would find them there, but I couldn't help noticing how pleasant it was to see us turning over the stones at Thoreau's house, lifting branches and raking leaves with our feet as though we were planning on settling in and staying a while. Albeit a simplified and rather troublesome task, the stones provided a way for us to think about the earth in a very fundamental way. We were there with that one purpose in mind, looking for something beyond but immensely part of Thoreau, studying the earth to see what it could give. What are we but a bunch of marked-up stones ready and willing to give and be taken and be used to good ends? We brought a stone to leave there, too, but left it on the bus. Maybe it can be laid along some watery shore in New Hampshire, where, as I noticed on the way home, the ponds are just as blue, the shores as untouched, the pointed firs as green.