It's been awhile since I last posted - October has been a very busy month. I started a new job at the end of September and now I'm on holiday enjoying an absolutely gorgeous Massachusetts fall. This is the place to be for enjoying the season. The air is crisp and cool, the trees are ablaze with colour and the leaves are so thick on the ground you literally have to wade through them. Everywhere people have decorated their homes with pumpkins, spiders and scarecrows. At night the narrow windy streets are pitch black except for the occasional lantern - you almost expect to see the Headless Horseman riding toward you. All my life I've dreamed of visiting New England at Hallowe'en and now I get to live my dream.
And speaking of living my dreams - I visited Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott and the real-world counterpart to the March house in Little Women. (I'm currently reading Louisa May Alcott: An Intimate Anthology, review soon!). We are staying in an 18th century farmhouse just outside of Concord so this was one of my first stops. Most of my vacation destinations are inspired by books I've loved and this one has been almost twenty years in the making.
It's difficult to put into words just how much visiting Orchard House meant to me. Little Women was one of the defining books of my childhood. I read it a number of times when I was young, but I vividly recall reading it one November afternoon during school reading period when I was twelve, and it just spoke to me. The following January the movie with Winona Ryder came out and it really cemented the story in my psyche.
On our tour of the house, there were some young girls who were probably around twelve in our group. For the most part they seemed to be enjoying themselves, but it was obvious they weren't super impressed. They flopped on the ground, fidgeted and didn't seem to know the basics of the story. You could tell it was just another outing for them, no more meaningful than a visit to the mall or a class trip.
I thought about what it would have meant to me, twenty years ago, to have been able to visit this house. We didn't get to travel much when I was growing up, and books were the only means I had to see the world for most of my life. To me, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy were my sisters. As we walked through the rooms, I had the overwhelming sensation that I was meeting childhood friends for the first time in real life. I was trying so hard to listen to what the tour guide was saying, but I was having difficulty not crying.
After the tour my husband and I sat outside on a bench in the twilight so I could absorb the fact I was really there. And I have to wonder, does anything ever touch you so much in life as a book you love in childhood? I doubt anything on this trip will be as meaningful as my afternoon at Orchard House.