Sam and I drove to Greenwich, CT after a lovely visit with Gene in SoHo and made it, thanks to Sam’s excellent navigation skills, to Greenwich, Ct in 45 minutes from the Lower West Side- pretty impressive considering it was raining, dark and there was traffic at the George Washington Bridge. I was truly grateful to have Sam helping by carefully reporting directions listed on my iPhone’s navigation system because getting in the correct lanes before going over the bridge is critical. The LAST thing you EVER want to do is get in the lane that takes you into the Bronx particularly at night with out of state plates (especially in a beacon of suburbia like my 2005 Blue Ford Escape Hybrid). It is like entering a maze in HELL where you will not get out for hours if ever. But we avoided the worst case scenario and made it neatly to Greenwich in record time. I am so proud.
We stayed with my dear long-time friend Candace Lau Hansen who I refer to, in typical Southern fashion, by her nick and maiden names, Candy Ruddy- and she is kind enough to indulge me. Candace has a cute two bedroom apartment in the heart of Greenwich near the Whole Foods (how utterly convenient!). We had a nice catch-up chat and went to bed early because we are middle-aged and she has to go into the city to work at her high-powered job.
The next morning Sam slept in a little- she is growing after all- and we packed up and headed out around 10:00am and proceeded to get lost three times on the way to Concord. We did however, by suggestion of another friend who used to live in Boston, make part of the way up the Merrit Parkway. It is a gorgeous drive and I highly recommend it. We also stopped near Stamford to shop for lunch items at a grocery store and find a spot along a local road for a leisurely tailgate picnic lunch. We arrived in Concord around 4:00pm and immediately went to check in at the Hawthorne Inn, our home away from home for the next two days.
The Hawthorne Inn is located on rt 2 directly across from Wayside, one of the historic homes of Concord lived in by Emerson, the Alcotts and probably Thoreau (they all seem to live in the same houses around here). The land on which the large Victorian B&B stands was owned by the Alcotts and apparently they gardened here. “There is mint growing in the garden that was probably planted by the Alcotts,” joked Gregory Burch co-owner and operator of the Inn. The other owner is his lovely bride, Marilyn Mudry who is a charming and vivacious hostess.
The Hawthorne is a wonderful place, romantic and eclectic with its Victorian furnishings accented with all types of art from Burch’s original carvings to Japanese ukiyo-e prints, Haitian Voodoo masks, acrylics from a local artist and an impressive collection of salt and pepper shakers. In typical New England style the place is huge and rambling with a large back yard which is open for guests to enjoy. I saw a hummingbird sip nectar from a flower this morning as I practiced yoga on the back lawn – quite magical.
My favorite room is the parlor done up in green Victorian furniture. I had tea there last night and enjoyed a glass of red wine there this evening as I attempted to read WALDEN; OR, LIFE IN THE WOODS by Henry David Thoreau.
Marilyn met us yesterday afternoon when we arrived and instantly prepared tea and snacks for us. We are staying in the very cool Concord Room at the back of the Inn, apparently situated above the kitchen but quiet. I adore the four poster bed carved with grape vines and the cabinet painted with birds and bugs.
Since our reason for coming to Concord was to see Orchard House, the one time home of Louisa May Alcott where she wrote LITTLE WOMEN, we stopped there first. They are open until 8:00pm on Thursdays so that worked out perfectly. Orchard House is a short walk from the Inn, maybe half a block at most so it is very convenient. We took the standard tour ably guided by Lily and kicked off with a 15 minute informational video. Lily was quite knowledgable and determined to give all the gifted Alcotts their due. I felt a tingling sensation throughout my body as I stood before LMA’s writing desk – hopefully a sign that she is sharing her stardust or at least recognizes me as a fellow writer. But my favorite room in the house was May Alcott’s. She was a fairly accomplished fine artist and she had been allowed to draw all over her room leaving beautiful sketches of mythical gods and goddesses, fairies and such all over the window and door frames. She was also Lincoln Memorial sculptor, Samuel French’s first art teacher. The Alcotts were people very much interested in education, art, social reform and nature which are common interests. I would have greatly enjoyed putting on theatricals in their parlor and chatting it up with their good friends Emerson and Thoreau. The tour gives a broad view of their lives and accomplishments.
After our tour we strolled a short distance (maybe a quarter mile) into “town” and enjoyed a good dinner at The Main Street Cafe. I ordered a seared tuna with seaweed salad appetizer and a melon salad with feta, olives, mint and red onion. Sam got salad Caprese with basil pesto. All dishes were well-prepared and delicious. There is often live music in the evenings and we were pretty much tortured with the song stylings of some local group but it was still fun.
A dark walk back to the Hawthorne was followed by a relaxing cup of tea in the parlor. A great way to begin our visit to Concord.