Monday, April 23, 2012

love the place you live: Minute Man National Park & Orchard House

Have I told you lately how much I love Concord? Oh yeah, only in both of the {Love the Place You Live} posts that I've written so far. But still! I love it enough to write a third post. There are so many wonderful gems in this area that I might even devote a fourth post; maybe I'll head a bit southeast and write about Lincoln, the spot of an aunt's idyllic wedding years ago and also home of our favorite Audubon sanctuary/farm.

Today I am focusing on the splendid Minute Man National Historical Park, which is a long stretch of national park space running from Lexington and into Concord and Lincoln and marking several historic Revolutionary War battle sites along the route. Minute Man is adjacent to the quaint, historic home of Louisa May Alcott, called Orchard House. I've always wanted to live in a home with an official name; isn't "Orchard House" a lovely one? Although she didn't grow up in this home, she did grow up in Concord and wrote Little Women while living in Orchard House as a young woman.

I've been to the Minute Man park and trail several times and have loved each of my visits. If I had been feeling better last week, I might have taken the girls to one of the many Patriot's Day celebrations going on there. Patriot's Day, a state holiday in Massachusetts that commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775, is a big deal around here, and you can't help but feel patriotic to be surrounded by flags and fanfare. I love that it coincides with the beginning of spring, when we already feel we have much to celebrate.

So what does Louisa May Alcott's home have to do with the Revolutionary War? I love this passage from the National Park website and thought it summed up the connection so well that I'm sharing it with you:

The story of Minute Man is more than just the events that took place at Lexington Green, Concord's North Bridge, or along the Battle Road in 1775. Minute Man encompasses the story of an evolution of the ideals of freedom and liberty, new notions of cultural independence and citizen responsibility. These ideals led to an American literary revolution the following century, introducing Concord authors, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The ideals of both the American Revolution and 19th Century literary revolution continue today and serve as an inspiration to people throughout the world.

Inspiring indeed! I have been wanting to see Orchard House since we moved here--and perhaps even since I read Little Women over and over as a young girl--but we didn't go until I snapped up an online coupon for half-price admission. Children under six are free, so the three of us took a tour of the home for just $4. There were many minute details to learn about her life, which was perfect for a fan like myself. For instance, did you know her last name is pronounced "All-cut," not "Al-cott" as I always have said it?

I enjoyed the tour, but I must say it wasn't great for children. And by that, I mean do not take your children to see Orchard House. If they aren't old enough to appreciate historic furnishings, and then perhaps even if they are, it's just too long and too much detail about Alcott's life to be of interest to them. However, the girls were perfect angels and put up with the hour-long tour with hardly a peep of disapproval.

In contrast to the slow and somewhat claustrophobic tour, we much enjoyed our picnic by the Minute Man trail. The weather was perfect, and it seemed like there wasn't a person around for miles. How I wish I had a time machine to whisk me back to the period of the literary revolution; I would so love to know what life was like in Concord back then. What would it have been like to strike up a conversation with Emerson or Thoreau, or Alcott herself? While we sat in our quiet patch of grass eating our simple lunch, it almost felt as though we had gone back in time. I relished my opportunity to pretend for a few minutes that we lived in that remote landscape, my very own little Ingalls family and me.

Nothing makes you realize you need to clean your camera body like taking a picture of the sky.

Fists fulla ham. 'Atta girl.

Editor's note: This post is a part of Design Mom's {Love the Place you Live} series. The photobooth shot came from this cool app.


Emily Sefcik said...

Once again you've made me want to visit. It's gorgeous and the history! It will happen one day!

Julie Kimber said...

When we lived in Arlington and East Cambridge (13 years ago!) we used to love to take a weekend day trip out to Concord to visit a wonderful bakery and take a walk. Beautiful place indeed!

Charissa said...

Yes! This looks like a fun trip...and I'd leave my kids home (except my 2nd--she loves books and would like the long tour).

hobomama said...

Your kids are so cute!

I love love love Concord. For I am an Alcott geek. So much so that my friend & I applied to become tour guides at Orchard House for a summer and were accepted, but then we couldn't work the logistics of staying at my parents' house (south of Boston). Alas. I will say that the tours (I've been on three now; see geek reference above) vary with each guide. If we'd become guides, we'd have crafted our own tours as well. So you might have just drawn a stuffy one! I like to think mine would have been whimsical and welcoming…

The Lone Home Ranger said...

I'd never thought of the tour being different with another guide, but I'm sure you're right. Our guide was a lovely lady and did her best to entertain my kids; I enjoyed the tour even with its overwhelming amount of Alcott trivia. "Whimsical and welcoming" sounds like you're on the right track. It's a beautiful place.

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sarah saad said...

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