Munroe Tavern and the Ladies I Will Never Forget

Everyone has stories of what it means to be free, to be American. None of us would have any of those stories or collective experiences if it weren’t for roughly 70 colonists who stood bravely in the dewy grass of the Lexington town common, or as it is known today—the Lexington Battle Green. This spot and the actions that took place there on April 19, 1775 have earned the area the nickname “the cradle of liberty”.

While we were stationed in Massachusetts and my husband had the privilege of trekking up the road to be a recruiter in Salem, I had the privilege to work a few seasons as a docent for the Lexington Historical Society. The tourists season would start on Patriots Day, a state holiday commemorating the events that started the American Revolution in Boston, Lexington, and Concord. For those unsure of how the whole thing unfolded and how our hard fought independence came to be, here is a quick history lesson:

For some time before the battle, a group of patriots held secret meetings in taverns from Boston, Lexington, and Salem. They discussed the need to break free of King George, means to hide a stockpile weapons, and even a small little nighttime act of vandalism that became known as the Boston Tea Party. The group got wind of plans by the British troops to set out from Boston on a mission to confiscate weapons in Concord and essentially keep these ragtag colonists in line for a little longer. The Brits had planned to arrest Lexington residents Samuel Adams and John Hancock that night, too. Paul Revere waited for the cue to set off on horseback, along with William Dawes, to warn Hancock and Adams and get the word to the guys guarding the guns in Concord. Revere got captured between Lexington and Concord (within a few hundred yards of where we were living on Hanscom Air Force Base). Samuel Prescott, a doctor, joined in and helped to finish the ride. After alerting Lexington, the colonists, made up of farmers, tavern owners, and ordinary folks, lined up on the town common. They waited until the Brits marched into town right around dawn. Words were exchanged and then, someone (no one can say for sure to this day) fired. That is collectively known as “the shot heard around the world”. By the end of the short battle, 8 colonists were dead and 10 were wounded. While there were a few skirmishes and dust-ups before this April morning, this small battle and the actions of the British heading toward Concord and eventually back to Boston in the afternoon are widely known as the actual start of the Revolutionary War.

One man on the battlefield that morning was Colonel William Munroe. He had a house and Tavern right down the street, and a family waiting anxiously inside that morning. Munroe Tavern was where I worked giving tours from April until October for three seasons. The tavern wasn’t just the home of a guy in the battle. It was used by the Brits on the way back to Boston later that day. General Earl Percy and his men busted into the tavern to use it as a makeshift hospital to treat their wounded troops before finishing the retreat to Boston to regroup. They dragged their wounded into the dining room and tossed one up on the table. Colonel Monroe’s wife and small children fled from the home and hid in the woods out back. General Earl Percy and his men shot up the place and even tried to burn it down before packing up their wounded and heading the rest of the way back to Boston.

The tavern was beautiful, painted Monroe Red (an official color in some stores in the area). The sitting room where I and the other docents sat and waited for visitors was the oldest part of the house. It was dated 1690 and had a small stone fireplace. The dining room and tap room (where the actual tavern was) was loaded with amazing furniture. It had a silverbox for the Monroe silverware and a case with personal belongings of Mrs. Monroe. Her tiny satin wedding shoes were inside, along with engraved rings. The walls were plastered with horsehair. The floor boards were huge, because boards under 12 inches wide were used for the British ships and not be used by the colonists. There was a deck of cards in the tap room. They didn’t have numbers because any scrap of paper with numbers was considered by King George to be a taxable document. There were no closets in the bedrooms because they were considered ‘rooms’ and therefore, taxable by King George (you can see why we wanted to get away from this guy).There were lager heads in the kitchen by the fireplace, used to make the grog. It was here I learned most colonial women didn’t die young in childbirth. They died from infections from constantly burning their skirts and legs when cooking by fireplace. Upstairs was lovely, narrow, and still. The lead windows would hurt your eyes if you stared out of them too long as the glass had a ripple effect. The narrow stairs that tiled slightly to the right made me dizzy and were hard to navigate in my “uniform”—a long colonial skirt and cap on my head.

While the actual tavern was so interesting and I felt lucky to be a part of people’s experiences as they toured it, along with John Hancock’s house down the road, the people I worked with are why my time there was such a learning experience. I worked with people who were as essential to the history of the area and our country as the tavern was. Elsa O. Sullivan was our leader. She was the wife of one of the inventors of radar during WWII. Her husband was deep in the bowls of secret labs at MIT inventing more than we may ever know and helping our country to win that war. He had passed away years earlier, but she talked non-stop of Leo and their love and travels, only touching on how important he was in other regards. Early in their marriage, she worked as a newspaper reporter alongside Jackie Kennedy before she married Jack. While in Washington D.C., she was also friends with Katherine Graham—one of my personal heroes and owner of the Washington Post during Watergate, along with her many other amazing accomplishments. Elsa not only knew these kinds of women, she was one of them. Her stories were fascinating and I felt honored to be a blip on her radar. She was also a big collector of rabbits—stuffed, ceramic, pictures of bunnies, sweaters, pins, anything rabbit. Another amazing soul I had the chance to spend endless summer afternoons with was Iris Howard. She was from North Carolina and from a very influential and wealthy family, raised by nannies and having went to the best schools. She made waves in the women’s rights movement in ways she will never get credit for. She married a New Englander she met in college and came up north in her early 20s. She was in her 80s and still had a southern accent that wasn’t twangy, but delicate and elegant as she told stories about her massive childhood home and family. She too loved and missed her husband incredibly. She also waited year after year to see the Red Sox win and was thrilled when they did in 2004. They hadn’t won since the year she was born. She was warm, buttery almost, but spicy when she felt like it. While Elsa had a formality to her, Iris had a spontaneity and said some shocking stuff even for my 20-something-year-old ears. Pictures from her youth showed her to be a beauty like no other. She still was with her bright eyes and laugh. Her hugs made me feel like family. They both loved my children and soaked them up anytime my kids were at the tavern. The groundskeeper and helper with all Elsa needed, Joe, was a former driver for Robert Kennedy. He was invited to many events at the compound at Martha’s Vineyard and became friends with Jack and Bobby Kennedy in his youth. He said when any household staff needed to be let go, Bobby was the one to do it. The family called him the “Hatchett Man”.

As each season ended, we had a formal dinner together at the tavern. We spent hours having wine, great food, and listening to stories. Elsa always put ice in her wine and would have a little too much, but that was when she really told some great tales. When I was there, with those women, I soaked up every word as they told stories of their lives, loves, children, and grandchildren. Their take on history, their role in history, and their vibrance was fascinating. I would sit and find myself wondering how on earth I ended up having wine with these amazing and accomplished women. I loved every second of my time in Monroe Tavern. I would gladly put on that skirt and cap for the chance to sit with those ladies for one more afternoon. There was no better history lesson than listening to them share their stories, their unique and amazing American stories that have now become a part of mine.

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Salem Massachusetts—Wiccans, Sage, the Sea and the Best Pizza Ever

One of my favorite memories of Massachusetts is wandering the pedestrian walkway in the middle of Salem. The coastal town is known as the Witch City—complete with a witch on a broom insignia on everything. Most everyone knows its claim to fame is the Salem Witch Trials and the town does everything to capitalize on this historical lesson in mass hysteria. Even though the true events of the witch trials are a scar on our national psyche, the town keeps it alive and well to draw in thousands of tourists each year. There are witch shops selling spells, tours of replica witch dungeons, tours of the gallows where innocents lost their lives, tours of homes involved in the trails, and the most popular attraction of all—the Salem Witch Museum.

The Salem Witch Museum tells of the injustice and tragedy behind that period in time and warns of history repeating itself when people fear what they don’t or can’t understand. When the tour begins, visitors are ushered into a large room complete with a massive red pentagram on the center of the floor. The lights go out and the eerie pitch black sets in as the pentagram lights up. The story is then told in high drama through scenes arranged above the visitors’ heads. The impact of the story is chilling and enlightening. However, when you are sitting there with a two year old in your lap and the lights go out, enlightening is the last word you would use to describe the experience. Once that pentagram lit up and the voice boomed through the dark room on his first visit, my son bolted towards the door in a panic and I had to take him outside until it was all over. But, at two years old it is okay to be afraid of what you don’t or can’t understand.

The shops that dot the brick streets were my favorite places to visit in the center of town. You could buy spells, complete with ground up bat tongue, eye of newts, dried blood, and sea salt. While I bought some for the souvenir aspect of having them, others truly used them and relied on the accessibility of the ingredients for various concoctions.  Crystals, capes, and even mortars and pestles for proper mixing and grinding were everywhere. Psychics and tarot card readers were on every corner. I picked up a few treasures that I still love to this day, including crystals of course. One of my favorite things is a beautiful handmade broom bought at a place called The Broom Closet. I also have witch balls made of glass that you are supposed to hang in windows to keep evil out of your home. A stone sign with the Wiccan greeting “Blessed Be” hangs above my door and I have a kitchen witch to protect my home also. Sea salt from Salem has been sprinkled along our doorways a time or two. Each store smelled of sage or another type of incense. To this day, when my daughter smells these smells, she always says “It smells like Salem in here”, and she is absolutely right.

While these places were fascinating and played into the association with the occult, the practicing Wiccan population of Salem, many of whom operated these shops, hated the stereotype of the witch we all know. In fact, some shops would have signs saying no entrance or candy for children dressed as witches on Halloween. They found it offensive for obvious reasons and felt the witch depictions misrepresented what real “witches” are. Wiccan is centered on a worship of nature and elements essentially. The perception of being “wicked” or even satanic was something they openly battled against in that town. They would invite the public to coven meetings and ceremonies just to share what they really do and believe. But, with that being said, the town would go overboard to play into the stereotypes in October and relish in the flood of tourists dollars each year. These very shop owners would try desperately to dispel misconceptions and teach the truth about the Wiccan religion. Then, the next shop over would sell witch hats and bumper stickers saying “My other car is a broom”. It was a contradiction I never understood, but in Salem, the occult sells and money talks in any tourist town.

Aside from the witch trials, Salem was the site of so many beautiful sea captains homes as it was the most important port in the world at one time. It was also the site of the House of Seven Gables, made famous by the Nathanial Hawthorne novel of the same name. Walking down to Salem Wharf to glance at the shore, see a few sail boats, and relish in the views of these grand homes always made me wonder how anyone could tear themselves away from living there. The smell of the saltwater mixing with the encroaching herb gardens at the House of Seven Gables made me breathe deeper and drink it all in anytime I had the chance. Each historical home had a small plaque outside by the door. The year it was built and the captain or family who owned it years ago would be delicately painted in black. I was fascinated by the ages and names. Those are still the oldest and most beautiful homes I ever laid eyes on.

Each trip to Salem was not complete until we had eaten at our favorite place. While there were plenty of seafood restaurants right on the water, the kids and I would always walk the few blocks back to the center of town, to the pedestrian walkway where Sean’s recruiting office was located. Inside the little plaza was a place called Essex Pizza. For some reason, we all still say that little pizza shop in the middle of so much history had the best pizza in the world. No one in our house mentions Salem without someone saying “I miss Essex Pizza.” That Witch City put a spell on us and we can’t wait to wander around those brick streets again. Until the day comes when we can go back and order a few slices, my “Blessed Be” sign will always be above my door, no matter where I live between now and then.

 

 

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Boston’s Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall—the Site of Great Debates and Great Desserts

We had been living outside of Boston for roughly a year and every trip into the city had been an adventure. We had wandered through the Public Garden and Boston Common, gazed at the USS Constitution at Charlestown, rode the trolley around, took pictures outside of Cheers on Beacon Street and wandered around old cemeteries filled with virtually every patriot you ever heard of. We had even meandered the narrow streets of Boston’s own Chinatown–where my daughter constantly yelled “What’s that SMELL?” while we walked in and out of shops. It was during one summer visit to the aquarium with my parents that we accidently discovered what would become my favorite part of the city–Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall.

While we shuffled up the sidewalk towards the Common to catch the Green Line, we caught a glimpse of activity through an alley and followed the action. We came to wide open circle dotted with push carts lying at the foot of the majestic looking Quincy Hall. On either side of Quincy Hall, there were two buildings anchored with high end design shops, offices, shops filled with tourist’s treasures and trinkets, and restaurants with outdoor seating facing the cobblestone pedestrian walkway. The walkway was filled with street musicians, caricature artists, backpack laden college kids racing by to get somewhere, city professionals bursting through with their quick lunches and wayward pigeons in hot pursuit, and more pushcarts filled with everything you could ever need. You could grab a Red Sox sweatshirt, a Harvard hat, lobster claw oven mitts, jewelry, postcards, hanging plants, bouquets of flowers, mugs and books filled with details of the city’s history. Once you walked past the line of pushcarts and got to the end of the outside of Quincy Market, another and equally important historic landmark, Faneuil Hall was waiting. With its brick facade and large double entryway, this hall’s architecture seemed to almost beckon fierce debate and political discourse. Inside the lower level, Faneuil Hall was filled to the brim with history books, chocolate and postcards while a grand hall for political speeches and meetings was open to the masses upstairs.

While both of these grand halls were a history lesson in themselves (and I truly love the history of this city), it is what you see once you climb the steps and set foot inside Quincy Market that makes it my favorite spot. Once you walk up those steps and look straight ahead through the front entrance, there is a sea of food choices. I don’t mean your typical mall food court staples arranged in a semi-circle. I mean literally as far as the eye can see there are food choices that can satisfy every desire and every palate. In fact, I truly am hard pressed to think of any type or style of food that is not available inside Quincy Market. Everything you can imagine—cakes, chocolates, ice creams, fudge, tiramisu, gelato, burgers, pizzas, seafood, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, loaded potatoes the size of your head, deli sandwiches, salads, soups, appetizers–is all there for the taking. The sheer sight of endless decadence always reminded me of the over-exaggerated depictions of the French Court surrounded by mounds of food from meats to cakes and everything in between. Just call me Marie Antoinette standing there engulfed in the sweet aroma of fresh cut fudge, the simmering steaming pots of lobster bisque, the sizzle of shaved steak or sausage, mountainous swirls of cupcake frosting so elaborately balanced on the tiny cakes that it should be a crime to touch them, and the distinct smell of piping hot pizza as it is thrown onto paper plates to the waiting hordes of hungry men and women. If it was a kingdom to be ruled, I would gladly wear a crown, stand tall on a stool, hoist my plastic silverware high towards the sky and demand each and every chef bring me samples of their finest offerings.

It was a straight shot from the grand entryway to the exit on the other end of Quincy Market. However, I could never see clearly to the other end. The signs and the amount of people flowing in and out simply overtook my field of vision. The signs were all eye-catching and summed up not only what you could get, but where the company was from, when they were established and, sometimes, just how famous they really were. As you can imagine with variety and choice that vast and plentiful, I never ate at the same place twice. Every trip to the city from that day forward entailed having lunch at Quincy Market.

Aside from the amazing food, there was just as much variety and sensory overload to enjoy outside on a nice day. Taking lunch out to the benches and sometimes even the steps of the grand hall was an adventure in people watching like nowhere else in the city. There was always non-stop action just like any other open city marketplace or pedestrian walkway. I had been to a few in other cities across the U.S.; but something just set Quincy Market apart then and now. I think it is the authenticity of the place. The buildings that anchor that section of the city have been there from Boston’s first days, and especially during its most important and influential days. They were the hub of the city back then and, to me, they still are. Faneuil Hall echoed with protest speeches from the great Samuel Adams, and the moving eulogies of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to name a few. It was also the sight of more recent political history including Ted Kennedy’s speech declaring himself a presidential candidate in 1979 and John Kerry’s concession speech after losing the 2004 election.  The very essence of freedom was debated there even though it was originally just a market house for the city.

Quincy Market, built in 1824, was originally constructed as an expansion of market space for grocers and butchers and was filled with food vendors selling bread, vegetables, cheese and meats. Remarkably on the inside of both halls, words of unprecedented meaning and importance are still scrolled across the walls and around the inner dome.  In Faneuil Hall, the elegance, the raw emotion and brutality of harsh fought verbal battles and the pride of an entire nation still echo from within and spill out into the streets and pedestrian walkway.

Both invite the masses to fill their bellies and their minds with the history of the city, the country. While my purpose was always to find a lunch I hadn’t enjoyed before and get an eye-full people watching, the real intent and purpose of these buildings was never far from my mind. As market houses, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market were where people would meet up, talk and debate what was going on around them, while buying, selling and trading what they needed to get by. In Faneuil Hall’s earliest days, I can only wonder what kind of arguments erupted as a patriot bought bread from a vendor true to the Brits. Maybe the wives quietly voiced their dissent from the mother-land while mingling with each other, exchanging jam, eggs and candles on a Saturday afternoon. I would never know what all ideas or philosophies shared their roots in or around these halls or how voracious some of the debates may have actually been. All I knew for sure was the only fighting I ever engaged in while wandering the grand interiors of Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall was who wanted fish or a chicken wrap and who wasn’t  going to get ice cream if they didn’t wait in line quietly. Trust me though, sometimes the dissent and passionate speeches  exhibited by my family of patriots while trying to decide who would get what for lunch may have rivaled anything Sam Adams and his fellow patriots expressed in that very corner of the city years ago. While our debates over desserts didn’t change the world or the course of history, during every visit there I always took a moment to appreciate the fierce political dissent and speeches that did take place there and how they most definitely influenced and shaped the city and country I love.

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Tips for Improving Veterans Health and Wellness, By Guest Blogger: Emily Walsh

While my adventures and travels as a military spouse has an immeasurable amount of benefits, those who serve are asked to take more risks than many other citizens in other professions, all in the name of duty, honor, a call to serve, self-less service, love of country and a sense of purpose and integrity. Luckily, there are organizations and individuals out there, such as Emily Walsh, who work tirelessly to help our veterans after they have given so much to our country. As a writer and veteran’s advocate, Emily shares tips for all of our veterans and active duty service members to be aware of to protect their health and wellness. Below is a guest blog post written by Emily as a way to get the word out to veterans and families on just how important it is take better care of yourself, while serving and long after they enter civilian life.

 Being a Healthier Veteran
By Emily Walsh
Veterans deserve the very best considering what they have done for their country. When most people think of veterans, they automatically assume an elderly person who is up in age. The truth of the matter is that there are many younger veterans joining the world who are done serving their time in the military. One main problem with being a veteran is the amount of medical issues that most of these individuals have to face. It is not uncommon for a veteran to deal with one or more issues regularly simply because of their time spent in the military.

It does not matter what branch of the military a person served in, they can still be dealing with a major health concern. Whether this be mesothelioma or PTSD, many veterans need to seek medical care on a routine basis in order to keep themselves in check. There are several different things you should do as a veteran to keep yourself as healthy as possible. One of the more obvious tips is to visit your doctor routinely and to take all of their advice when it concerns your health. Your doctor will be able to prescribe you medications and keep an eye on your overall health and well-being.

Another thing most veterans can and should do is to exercise regularly and follow a proper diet and nutrition plan. You would not believe just how beneficial it can be for you to exercise each day and eat a little better. Just by doing these things, you can improve your mood and your health, so that you can avoid further injury and even improve certain conditions that you’re dealing with. You will want to speak with a doctor before making changes to your diet because you want to make sure that the changes you are making are going to be good for you.

Being a veteran can be difficult and you may not know where to turn for help. The truth is that there is a lot of help out there for you and there are many ways for you to help yourself at home. By exercising and dieting as well as seeing your doctor, you can easily improve the quality of your life so that you live longer and better. This is why many veterans are doing their best to help themselves and improve their lives by making these small changes each day.

Emily Walsh is the Community Outreach Blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. You can find out more about her commitment to veterans health at:
http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/emily/

 

 

 

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The Accidental Transcendentalist

The Accidental Transcendentalist.

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The Accidental Transcendentalist

I remember clear as a bell, sitting in a high school classroom, entirely transfixed learning about the very ideals that shaped transcendentalism and the philosophies of men like Thoreau and Emerson.  Then ten years later, on June 14, 2000, (my son’s first birthday) I found myself standing on the edge of Walden Pond…..

My husband had reenlisted in the United States army and we had just gotten stationed in Massachusetts. He was put on recruiting duty in Salem Massachusetts and we were waiting to move into our new home on Hanscom Air Force Base.  We were staying in a hotel right off base for two weeks. I was with my three year old daughter and one year old son while my husband was gone from roughly 4 or 5 a.m. until long after the little ones were asleep each night. That was the way recruiting was in those days in New England, especially the first year. Being somewhere I loved made the time apart bearable. I had always wanted to live outside of Boston and was fascinated by the city, Harvard, Lexington, Concord and everything else about the history and culture of the area; so I did as any military wife does when she is new to an area and her husband is gone all of the time–I grabbed a stack of brochures and maps from the hotel lobby and set out exploring. (These were the days long before GPS or OnStar, of course).

I knew we were very close to Walden Pond; but once I realized how close, I couldn’t fight the overwhelming urge to get there as fast as possible. Plus, what better place to take my children for my son’s first birthday? I relished the idea of seeing the grass and leaves sway in the breeze, the sun dancing on the water, the peaceful birds hopping from tree top to tree top. Everything Thoreau’s Walden was on paper was going to be right before my eyes and my children’s eyes. We were only two miles away and my heart was beating out of my chest. The noise of two toddlers happily strapped in the back of my Grand Am echoed in-between the thuds of anticipation inside my chest. I knew in less than two miles I would stumble onto the most peaceful place my mind had ever had the pleasure of knowing or learning about. I knew 150 years worth of insight, reflection, observation, solitude, and gratitude for the natural serenity tucked in the back woods of Concord were within reach.

When we got to the parking area, I rushed the children out, strapped my son into the stroller and tightly held onto my daughter with my free hand. We raced down the sandy, pine needle littered path to my heaven. The air was unbelievably fresh. I would later learn this was just a typical, crisp and sweet smelling late spring New England morning. I clutched my daughter and maneuvered the bulky stroller as quickly as I could with one hand. It felt almost as if my entire existence, my destiny depended on getting to that crisp perfect water and laying my eyes on the very destination I had loved studying about in high school and college. As an English major in college, I remembered the virtual swooning in my heart and soul when I read and reread Emerson’s “The American Scholar”, Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”, and of course, the tingling sensation when I first immersed myself in “Walden”. These great works were like my Bible and I was about to reach the Promised Land.

Suddenly there I was–standing on the edge of that sacred water. Thoreau said, “The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.” I inhaled like I never had before and felt an overwhelming peace and understanding. Off in the distance were two other people curled up on a log reading—Walden, no doubt. The quiet was beautiful and the clouds were perfectly swirled across the incredibly light blue sky. The trees stretched far and encircled the large pond, much larger than I had ever envisioned it to be. Postcards, pictures and sketches simply don’t do the size of it justice. The water lapped gently at my feet and I could see pine needles skimming the top and small pebbles scattered at the bottom. I wondered if the view was the same for Thoreau, if he had ever stood right where I was at that moment. I found myself dizzy with the solitude and then felt an all encompassing sense of peace. Everything transcendentalism had meant to me came bubbling up inside, suddenly and with a feeling of inevitability—as if my very cells had been waiting to get to this space, this moment. This was my nirvana. I was truly one with Walden.  So much of what were simply words a decade ago suddenly became my truth, my quiet truth–just as Thoreau had wanted all of us to see nature as being. Then, from the silence and deep solitude as my purpose in this life was on the verge of materializing before me, a screech of joy echoed and squeals of childhood were followed by the unmistakable sound of the of my three year olds little body flopping around and splashing in that sacred water.

I was shaken from my meditative state and looked down to see her in her purple shorts and matching shirt flopping wildly like a fish in the water, splashing my feet while making her baby brother squirm and squeal with sheer anticipation at the thought of writhing in that sacred water with her. Then the couple reading looked up with palatable annoyance, closing their books in obvious disgust. I realized that my children had broken their solitude, their serenity. While momentarily horrified that this sacred and calm Mecca for some had been confiscated and turned into a source of loud and obnoxious delight by my toddlers, I couldn’t help but smile when I looked at her.

I later remembered one of the basic beliefs behind transcendentalism centered on the idea that if something, some action or some idea was right and just for one man, it is in essence right for all of humanity. This world, this earth, this historic pond in the woods of concord was to be loved, enjoyed and soaked in by us all, in whatever way felt true and just in each of us. My daughter had become an accidental transcendentalist, but a transcendentalist none the less. As Thoreau said, “All good things are wild and free.” That is exactly what she was in those pure moments splashing and rolling around. I think Thoreau would have loved her willingness to jump right in and allow that sacred water to fill her tiny soul with so much joy. Emerson echoed, “Allow yourself to trust joy and embrace it,” She did just that with unyielding gusto. She saw her chance at joy, peace, serenity, and sheer release to be one with that pond, one with the sacred waters of the Ganges and jumped right in.

Thinking of that sight and that moment of sheer joy and truth–her feet splashing wildly and the squeals echoing from them both–is now my serenity, my peace and solitude. In that moment, her joy was all of humanity’s joy. She was a transcendentalist in the truest form, accidental but true, and I am sure Thoreau would have been tickled pink to splash alongside her.

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Forever a Tourist in my Own Life

It has been a life picking up and going where I have never gone before–partly of my own choosing and partly due to the whims of the United States Army. As the daughter and now the wife of U.S. soldiers, I have ended up relocating all around the country. I was born in an Army hospital and they have been telling where to go and when to be there ever since. My father did retire in time for me to go to Jr. high and high school in the same small town, without interuption, where my grandparents lived. And, I also chose to go to college where I, and I alone, wanted. However, that is where I met and married my husband. Since then, we ,together with our two kids, two dogs, and now two cats, have gone where orders say to go and have gotten there when said orders have directed. Despite the gypsy-ish style of the beginning and current chapters of my life, I have nothing to complain about or any regrets. The Army has never steered me wrong. While most of the military spouses and families I know and live around have had extensive stints overseas, I am one of the few who have only been stateside. I would certainly jump at the chance to go overseas in any capacity, but since my husband has only two and a half years left, it looks like I won’t have that chance–at least not on the Army’s dime. That is perfectly fine, I’ll take what I can get. Our adventures have been grand thus far and I know they will only get more grand after he retires. I have always treated each move like an opportunity and choose to live everywhere we go as a tourist. Afterall, aren’t we all tourists in our own lives? We get one shot here, or multiple lives due to reincarnation, but robbed of the memories–therefore, I should say, one shot here that we will surely remember. This blog will hopefully chronical my physical journey during that one shot; but more importantly, I hope it encourages others to use that one shot to go..set forth…travel..see the world…go anywhere and everywhere you have never been. I can promise you that even after the Army is done picking up the tab and telling me where and when to pack it up and move on, my husband and I will still go forth, explore, and be tourists in our own lives…we will use that one shot to see it all while we can and hopefully on my last day here, I’ll be somewhere I have never been, and I will go into a light to head off somewhere else I’ve never been–unless ‘reincarnation’ sends me back down for more. Until then…I’ll keep writing all over the map.

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