Friday, December 01, 2023

A Northeaster: Part 3

We spent our last day in New England at Plimoth Plantation, another site I'd visited as a child and wanted to share with my own children. It was so strange to think that it had been almost three decades since my last visit! 

Our tour began aboard the Mayflower, which was meticulously recreated in England in the 1960's. While it does differ from the original in some ways (partly due to lack of precise records, and partly to make it easier to tour), it gives you a sense of what the journey must have been like. As beautiful as she is, I can't imagine spending many weeks aboard for a trans-Atlantic voyage.

William Bradford

I managed to decipher this for my children, only
to turn around and find it neatly printed
on a sign behind me!

This is a clever way of recording how far and in which
direction the ship has traveled

Beautiful Plymouth harbor -- I love coastal New England

After our "sea voyage," we stopped at the nearby Grist Mill, a working replica of a mill built early in Plymouth's history. We learned a great deal about the importance of the mill and the milling process, thanks to the knowledgeable guides. 

After a glorious walk through the woods, we came upon the Native settlement. 

This stew smelled so very good! Deliciously fragrant.

One of the guides explained the process used to burn
out these log boats

At last, we headed down to the settlement. Even though all of the buildings are reproductions, they feel authentic thanks to the great care used to recreate them. Again, the interpreters were so helpful and friendly, ready to answer questions and even involve the children in tasks of the time. It was amazing to consider just how vulnerable these early settlers were, especially considering that very few of them had skills useful for surviving in the wilderness. 


I wish I could share the sensations of this photo -- a tranquil 
summer's afternoon in New England, with the sea in sight
and the sweet aromas of grass and flower wafted on the wind.

Our whirlwind visit only whetted my appetite, but what a gift to be able to "time-travel" to such a significant time/location in America's history. All too soon we were saying our farewells and packing up to return home -- ready to turn our attention to our next adventure, as we prepared for our first overseas move.

Friday, October 13, 2023

A Northeaster: Part 2

For part 1 of our New England trip, read here.

After New York City, we spent a day in the lovely Adirondacks ziplining with family. And then it was time to head east! Rhode Island was our destination, but I discovered that Concord, MA, was only a slight detour away. It was time to revisit a place that I first fell in love with about 25 years ago, a place I particularly wanted to share with Rosa: Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House.

Orchard House is a remarkable place, a time capsule of a family's life. Almost all of the furnishings actually belonged to the Alcotts. They have Louisa's "mood pillow" on the sofa, Anna's (Meg's) wedding dress displayed in the same parlor she was married in, the boots Louisa made to play "Rodrigo" in her plays, a doll made by Beth, and the like. Louisa wove so much of her family's own story into her Little Women books that it can be hard to distinguish the March family from the Alcott family! In fact, "March" is a nod to Mrs. Alcott's maiden name, "May" (a name they reused for two of their daughters, Louisa and Abigail -- Abigail went by "May," and is "Amy" in the novel). The walls of May's room are covered with her drawings, and many of her paintings are displayed throughout the house. 

Interestingly, Orchard House and its contents have been preserved largely due to the efforts of Harriett Lothrop, better known as "Margaret Sidney," author of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. She recognized the importance of the house and purchased it, living next door at "Wayside" (which had been previously owned by the Alcotts and, later, Nathaniel Hawthorne). Wayside looks quite different than it did when the Alcotts lived there, but many of the scenes from the book actually happened there -- Louisa wrote Little Women at Orchard House, but the Alcotts moved there after Elizabeth's death. Orchard House has been a museum since 1911, which is rather astonishing if you think about it. It's a testament to the enduring popularity of Louisa's books!

I loved the little garden outside, planted with the 
flowers mentioned in the novel!

Bronson built his "School of Philosophy" by the house.
Unskilled at making money, he does seem to have been
a competent builder -- he also made significant
alterations to Orchard House before they moved in.

Kit had a snack while we waited for our tour -- it 
was such a beautiful day!

We found paper dolls at the gift shop for Rosa

While we didn't have time for a proper Revolutionary War tour, we couldn't visit Concord without visiting the spot where the first shots were fired. We learned at Orchard House that the famous "Minute Man" statue was sculpted by Daniel Chester French, formerly one of May Alcott's art students.