Sunday, April 20, 2008

So Close And Yet So Far Away

Over the years I have shared with my faithful readers my mild obsession with those wacky Transcendentalists, an obsession which is totally understandable given my various connections with Lousia May Alcott who was up to her neck in all things Transcendental. Since reading Mr. Emerson's Wife last fall, I've been fantasizing about taking a walking tour of Concord, Massachusetts and stopping by the homes of various Transcendental types just as they would have stopped by in their heyday--on foot. Now, I was in Concord a couple of decades ago visiting Orchard House. I have a vague recollection of lots of traffic, so I know the walking thing is probably out of the question. Nonetheless, the fantasy remains.

Well, yesterday I got to Concord. However, I was with a couple of family members who couldn't really see spending a perfectly good Saturday touring the homes of boring old dead guys. So we decided to go biking in Minute Man National Park. However, I had only the vaguest idea what Minute Man National Park was. I did not plan my visit. A family member heard there was a four-mile trail there suitable for bikes. We figured we'd do an hour or so of biking and go out to lunch.

When we arrived, however, we realized something was amiss. As it turns out, April 19th was the day the Battle of Concord was fought (And I used to call myself a history geek! I blush.), and when we got to, maybe, the halfway point on the trail, we were trapped because everything shut down for an hour for a re-enactment.

"This is not my favorite historical period," one of my companions said by way of making conversation. (Yes! We are the kind of people who have favorite historical periods!)

When everything was over, and we were finally on our way biking along Battle Road, I wondered if Henry David Thoreau had walked there before me. (I've never heard anything about him having a bicycle.) Surely, he must have. Yeah, I'm positive my bike's tires touched the same road Thoreau's shoes touched. That is so cool.

It is also the closest I got to the Transcendental world yesterday. Traffic was so bad because of the hundreds of people who were trying to get out of town that I didn't even think to suggest that we try for some kind of Transcendental sighting.

Now, though, my walking tour fantasy has been kicked up a notch. Now I want a Transcendental National Park, one where you can leave your car in a lot and walk along trails from Emerson's house to the Alcott's to Thoreau's mom's and on and on. Transcendentalist houses everywhere. Oh, and there would be tearooms in this park, so you could stop to eat. And bookstores. Maybe in the afternoon there would be a gathering in one of the houses where everyone could talk about deep things.

It kind of makes you tear up, doesn't it?


Sarah Rettger said...

Gail, it's nice to know I'm not alone! I never thought there might be other non-academics who prefer some eras of history over others.

Gail Gauthier said...

Oh, yeah. We definitely have preferences. Unfortunately, they aren't necessarily shared.

I like your blogs and will be recommending Omnibus to a family member who's interested in trying the bookselling business.

Sarah Rettger said...

Glad to hear it! Your family member might also want to take a look at our Opening a Bookstore resources.