Tuesday’s Inspiration: Wendell Berry

When I come across a poem I love, I will write it in my journal. “A Timbered Choir” by Wendell Berry is a poem I never want to forget. I think it is my all-time favorite poem if I had to chose one. Forgive my little scribbles and messy handwriting but I felt it more fun to share this way then to just type it out here. But if you really want to experience this poem, please scroll down to the link below to hear Berry read it for himself!

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Wendell Berry himself reads his beautiful poem in the video made by Laura Dunn posted in the link below. The video is the trailer for the film “Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry”. The film itself is beautifully made and relaxing and an interesting portrait of the author and farmer’s life. Do have a listen to the trailer, you won’t regret it:

Look & See Trailer by Laura Dunn on Vimeo

After watching it, I am sure you understand why this poem has been echoing in my mind lately. The cadence of his voice and the powerful images in the video are captivating, important, real, and stopped me in my tracks. I’ve listened to his voice read “The Timbered Choir” over and over. I intend to read a lot more of Wendell Berry’s work.

Concord, Massachusetts

Historic homes of America’s literary finest! Cute antique shops! A quaint New England town! These are all statements I’ve heard about Concord, Massachusetts. And then, when I saw the Orchard House while watching Little Women (the one with Winona Ryder) this winter and learned that parts of the movie were actually filmed in Concord, I knew I had to get there. So for our annual Adventure Day, my mother in law Karen and I headed to Concord, Massachusetts.img_7583First on our loose agenda was The Alcott Family’s Orchard House, pictured above. This is indeed what the front of the house looked like in the movie I watched, but pretty much everything else was different. I don’t know why it didn’t hit me that we are visiting the house in 2017, not the 1800s, but I was expecting the orchards, gardens, and surrounding stately homes (Lorie’s house!? haha) pictured in the movie. Instead, we have this beautiful home, full of history, right on the side of what is now a very loud and busy road. And all of the land surrounding the house has been chopped up into house lots. Ah, “Progress”… But, I digress. It was still exciting to be able to tour the Alcott’s former home. Our tour guide was very thorough and knowledgable and shared the highlights of this interesting family’s accomplishments, struggles, and day to day minutiae. Sadly, no photography was allowed in the house, which is a shame, but I do understand. The tours would take twice as long if everyone was clamoring over one another to all get photos of everything. My favorite part of the house were the drawings and paintings done by May Alcott, the youngest daughter, many of them drawn directly on the walls. The Alcott family couldn’t afford to buy their daughter art paper so they let the walls be her canvases and drawing paper but only if she was “trying her very best”. I love that so much. Bravo Bronson and Marmee! Not only did I think it was stellar parenting, but what a talent their daughter truly had! These weren’t just doodles on the walls, she drew ancient figures, cherubs, portraits, and animals- all done so well! It’s worth doing the tour just to see May’s artwork.
img_7591img_7585It was also very touching to see the very writing desk Louisa May used to write her novels, and we learned that she wrote Little Women in just 6 weeks! Touring the house was worth doing, it was a definite highlight of our day trip to Concord. We felt a bit hungry after the tour (it was about an hour long), and I saw a place called Haute Coffee on my maps app, so we headed there. It was a good choice.

Karen and I both drink decaf (such a sadness for me) but this place had some very decent decaf. I can only imagine what their regular espresso must taste like, yum!! Randomly and kindly (hehe) we were the happy victims of a random act of kindness when the women in front of us in line paid for our coffees. Thank you, lady in front of us! Their lunch food was excellent too (homemade pickles served with our grilled sandwiches!), all around just a great spot. Highly recommended for a light lunch and awesome coffee.img_7615img_7611img_7619

img_7643Our hunger sated and our yummy decafs consumed, we took to the streets for a stroll to see the historic homes and businesses up close. We wandered into an open art gallery. We poked into a few shops. We went into a florist that was hugely expensive (a recurring theme in a lot of the shops I found out…) but still beautiful to look around anyways. My favorite shop by far was Nesting. A small shop at the top of a plant-lined staircase, it was packed literally to the brim with unique home decorations, natural curiosities, beauty and bath supplies, jewelry, stationary, kids toys, and antiques. There was so much to look at it was hard to know where to start. But we meandered on through, ooing and awing as we went.img_7635img_7637

img_7633img_7638We then poked around a couple of antiques shops, and even stumbled upon a little gem of a place, a small cheese and wine shop, which we strolled around happily. I had wanted to also include a trip to nearby Walden Pond, but when we drove the few miles down the road to it, we found it completely packed and not free. Just as well, because at that point in the day, I was very tired out (still feeling the slight effects of anesthesia from a procedure at the hospital the day before while simultaneously coming down with a cold). So we bid Concord goodbye and headed on home.img_7646img_7652

img_7649While I thoroughly enjoyed my day in Concord (fatigue set aside), I wouldn’t rush to get back there (unless I started to drink caffeinated coffee again that is, Haute Coffee I would go!). I did find it overly expensive, and quite loud with traffic and crowded with people (though it was just a random Wednesday). I suppose it is essentially a busy suburb of Boston, so I shouldn’t have expected a quaint New England village with people impersonating Emerson and Hawthorne running around the streets. Creepy as that might have been, I did expect a quieter type of place. But, as all of the brilliant writers and thinkers who inhabited Concord no doubt sensed even in their time (maybe especially in their time), progress marches on. Sometimes for good. But more often than not, progress just leads to less quiet time for writing and thinking (I think).img_7589

Classics Aren’t So Bad After All

Do you want to know why I am a really bad librarian? Well, other than the fact that I quit my library job… I have always been a bad librarian because I said for years that I “hated classics.” *everyone gasps* Yup. I said it. But now, in my older, wiser (ha!) years, I have decided to turn over a new leaf and give the classic literature another go. Perhaps it’s because I am at a different phase in life, or perhaps it’s because I am not forced to read these books in ridiculously large page amounts per night as an assignment, or perhaps because I am not tediously picking apart every passage to write a paper…I will say that classics are not so bad at all. I don’t think I hate them anymore. Rather, I think I love them. And I think I have been missing out all these years. img_2127Maybe we just started with a really good one? I say “we” because at the beginning of August, one of my best friends inspired me to start reading the classics. Because she is a good librarian (really, she is), she has been reading and enjoying classic books all along. I saw her reading Great Expectations one day, and I thought, “really, I ought to be reading that too” and thus the idea was planted in my mind that we should read the classics together to make it more fun for me. We decided to start with Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, because my good librarian friend was already in the midst of it and enjoying it. I picked it up from the library, dove right in, and thoroughly enjoyed it too! To my great surprise, it was a page-turner! I really liked it! I finished it quickly and it got me hungry for more classics. So I read through Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. While not as enthralling as Rebecca in my opinion, it was still a very good read and kept me interested. I will admit, I did have a little hiccup last week with Wuthering Heights. Sorry Emily Bronte… but I just couldn’t finish it. The characters were so unpleasant I truly wanted them out of my mind. I should finish it eventually but I needed a break. So my friend and I settled on Persuasion, my first time reading Jane Austen ever. I’m finding it a bit more difficult to get into then the other three classics I’ve read so far, but I’m only on the 3rd chapter. I’m feeling positive about it though. I log my reading materials on goodreads which is an easy and fun way to keep track of what I’ve read and still want to read. I also love giving books ratings from 1-5 stars. Rebecca was 5 stars. The tea party we had to watch the Hitchcock movie version of the story was also 5 stars 🙂 Classics Aren't So Bad After AllAnd if a movie producer happens to come across my blog (ha!) please, make another version of Rebecca. It would be such an awesome movie. Not that I didn’t like the Hitchcock version, but one in color with awesome music and a beautiful setting would be so amazing. Come on movie producers…