Historic Concord, Massachusetts

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
– Henry D. Thoreau

Just a few miles north of Walden Pond is Thoreau’s birthplace, Concord, MA, a beautiful town bursting with history. The Minute Man National Historical Park, North Bridge, Paul Revere Capture Site… major historical events took place right here. I’d learned to appreciate their significance especially in a modern day context.

But what caught my attention as I drove into town was this church building, meeting place of the First Parish in Concord:

First Parish

History of First Parish

While the present structure was built in 1900, the Church – the gathering of a  community of faith – stood as a monument of the social history of America dating back a few hundred years to the 1670’s. To me as an outsider, this is meaningful. It’s the first of many such Christmas card icon that I would see during my road trip, in every town I passed by.

The Concord Museum displays history in a nut-shell. In there I found the actual furniture from inside Thoreau’s cabin in Walden Pond:

Thoreau's furniture and those in Emerson’s home:

Emerson's StudyLesson learned? No, one doesn’t have to go to the woods to live a Spartan life to be inspired. But, the experience sure could help develop work skills in case the writing vocation didn’t pan out.

I skipped Emerson’s House across from Concord Museum, instead, followed the sign of ‘Authors Ridge’ in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to the graves of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott, and Emerson. Much amused to see pens and pencils left at the authors’ graves:

Pen tribute

Thoreau's GraveAs I was pondering the philosophical meaning of this sighting, a greater urge suddenly took hold of me, one Thoreau could empathize, the necessity of life sustenance: food. I said goodbye to the great authors and drove back down to the main streets of Concord in search of the essential.

It’s the name that first attracted me: La Provence. The little French restaurant/café and patisserie on, where else? Thoreau Street. I ordered at the deli counter their popular Jambon de Paris sandwhich and a cream of mushroom soup. To my delight, as I stepped into the dining room with my lunch I felt like I’d entered a van Gogh painting. (Click here to see what I mean.)

While the sandwich was just average, the mushroom soup was superb. I wouldn’t mind a second helping but reminded myself another essential I must make room for, a dessert from the patisserie.

I was over at the glass case in the pastry section in no time. As a chocolate lover, my choice was easy… just look for the brown color items. I pointed to my selection and upon asking its name, was given two different replies by two different staff. So here I’m combining them: “Milk and Honey Chocolate Dome”, and it’s heavenly.

A crisp milk chocolate dome shrouding smooth melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mouse on a thin layer of cake at the bottom, this little dome sealed the best a dessert can offer any chocolate lover. The white chocolate bee on top was the added fun.

Le Provence choc domeFall foliage will have to wait.

***

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Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

25 thoughts on “Historic Concord, Massachusetts”

    1. No I didn’t leave one… lost mine somewhere. Also, don’t think it would have helped shatter writer’s block even if I’d left one there. I use the keyboard now. 😉

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  1. I love visiting and reading about writers’ houses. Thanks for sharing.

    PS for the record, the restaurant should be named LA Provence and not LE. Ah, the French language and its complicated genders!

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    1. Of course! Thanks for pointing that out Emma! I even have the menu in front of me and didn’t notice my mistake. Glad you stopped by and let me know. Yes, I was amazed at the literary traditions there. Had visited several other writer’s homes after this, so, stay tuned. 🙂

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  2. Oh, I’m so glad you went to the Writers’ Corner of the cemetery. I just found that so compelling, to think that all these people we so admired were so close together. And I love that church – I remember it from my long ago visit. Did you check out the color in Minuteman Historic Park? Oh, I’ll have to wait and see!

    I do love New England at any time of year but fall is so lovely. I hope the colors were peaking for you — I’m catching up, so soon I’ll see!

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    1. Jeanie,

      There wasn’t much colors yet as we were probably a week or two early in foliage change. I know, photos could have been much more awesome. As you said, and I totally agree, I really didn’t need the colors to appreciate what I’d seen. So, maybe I’ll go back a bit later next time. But one never knows about the weather. The next time it could be an early fall. I’m grateful for this experience. 😉

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      1. This year’s fall has been exceptionally late. And you never know if the rain/wind will blow it off even at peak. We still have a LOT of green (my whole back yard) and yet tons of trees are bare!

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    1. Stefanie,

      Had time constraints and other factors I’m afraid I’ll save Emerson’s House for the next trip. Anyway there were some exhibits in Concord Museum on Emerson and the authors. The above photo of his study was one of them. Well, skipping some just means I need to go back some day. 😉

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  3. I’m moving soon (four blocks from where I currently live). I’m looking for a desk about the size of Thoreau’s right now. The new mattress I’ll be getting is from Simmon’s Shakespeare Collection. Too bad Pottery Barn doesn’t make a Thoreau Collection desk.

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  4. My daughter and I went to Concord in the summer of 2006 – we went to Orchard House and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A migraine kept us from seeing any of the other sites. It’s interesting about the pens and pencils you noticed being left at the graves. In 2006 there were none, Thoreau’s grave was adorned with small stones and pine cones. Louisa May Alcott’s grave had the same, but also some people had left folded paper notes under some of the stones. Times change. We need to go back to Concord some day – your post has inspired me to plan another trip.
    http://www.ingebrita.net/2010/06/sleepy-hollow-cemetery/

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  5. I have a friend whose daughter lives in Connecticut. She’s been after me to make a New England trip, and this is getting my juices flowing. I laughed at the pens at the graves. When I went to Leadbelly’s grave in Louisiana, his was covered wtih guitar picks. The urge to leave tribute, and perhaps in some way to connect with geniuses long gone, is a common one.

    I love the look of Emerson’s place. The windows are fabulous. And I really like that big, round table. but honestly? If you look at Thoreau’s cabin, and the furnishings, you’re getting a peek at what my little cabin in the hill country woods was like. Granted, there were some amenities not available to Thoreau, but the size was about the same, and the furnishings as simple. I miss it.

    Now, on to the next delights!

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  6. What a fascinating day. I’d love the museum too. I’ve never seen anyone leave pens at a grave before. And of course I’m always tempted by lunch-shame about the baguette, but I’m glad everything else was good. Whilst i like chocolate I normally go with fruity desserts.

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