American Locations 15 – North of Boston

This trip goes from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Boston area, then up the New England coast all the way into Canada, then back through the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York.

We visited several other sites while staying in Lowe, Massachusetts, with Connie’s daughter and family. One place was Walden’s Pond.

Here is a Wikipedia entry about Walden’s Pond:

Formation, from “The Ponds” (Walden, 1854)[edit]

While living in Walden Woods for two years beginning in 1845, Henry David Thoreau contemplated Walden Pond’s features. In “The Ponds” section of Walden, published in 1854, Thoreau extols the water’s physical properties. He details its unparalleled water quality; its clarity, color, and temperature; its unique animal life (aquatic, bird, and mammal); its rock formations and bed; and especially, its mirror-like surface properties.[14]

Thoreau contemplates the source of the pristine water body in the woods. He observes that it had no visible inlet or outlet, and considers the possibility of an unidentified spring at the bottom. Noting the kettle landform‘s ramparts and resilient shore, he concludes that a unique, natural geologic event formed the site, while recognizing local myths:[15]

Some have been puzzled to tell how the shore became so regularly paved. My townsmen have all heard the tradition — the oldest people tell me that they heard it in their youth — that anciently the Indians were holding a pow-wow upon a hill here, which rose as high into the heavens as the pond now sinks deep into the earth, and they used much profanity, as the story goes, though this vice is one of which the Indians were never guilty, and while they were thus engaged the hill shook and suddenly sank, and only one old squaw, named Walden, escaped, and from her the pond was named. It has been conjectured that when the hill shook these stones rolled down its side and became the present shore. It is very certain, at any rate, that once there was no pond here, and now there is one; and this Indian fable does not in any respect conflict with the account of that ancient settler whom I have mentioned, who remembers so well when he first came here with his divining-rod, saw a thin vapor rising from the sward, and the hazel pointed steadily downward, and he concluded to dig a well here. As for the stones, many still think that they are hardly to be accounted for by the action of the waves on these hills; but I observe that the surrounding hills are remarkably full of the same kind of stones, so that they have been obliged to pile them up in walls on both sides of the railroad cut nearest the pond; and, moreover, there are most stones where the shore is most abrupt; so that, unfortunately, it is no longer a mystery to me. I detect the paver. If the name was not derived from that of some English locality — Saffron Walden, for instance — one might suppose that it was called originally Walled-in Pond.

Romanticism, from “The Ponds” (Walden, 1854)[edit]

Also in “The Ponds,” Thoreau describes incorporeal experiences around the water, both experiences related to him by others and his own.[16] Thoreau, who was well read and a transcendentalist, and therefore presumably intimately familiar with Romanticism, relates the stories in a way that could be argued to interpret or reveal the pond as the locale of the Grail Legend in the Americas. In the following passage, Walden Pond’s vanishing treasure chest echoes the protagonist’s fleeting encounter with the grail in Wolfram von Eschenbach‘s German romance Parzival, and the pond’s canoe is reminiscent of the boat in A Fairy Tale.[17] (Goethe, who was a Classicist, not a Romanticist, positively viewed Parzival.)[18] Thoreau wrote:[16]

An old man who used to frequent this pond nearly sixty years ago, when it was dark with surrounding forests, tells me that in those days he sometimes saw it all alive with ducks and other water-fowl, and that there were many eagles about it. He came here a-fishing, and used an old log canoe which he found on the shore. It was made of two white pine logs dug out and pinned together, and was cut off square at the ends. It was very clumsy, but lasted a great many years before it became water-logged and perhaps sank to the bottom. He did not know whose it was; it belonged to the pond. He used to make a cable for his anchor of strips of hickory bark tied together. An old man, a potter, who lived by the pond before the Revolution, told him once that there was an iron chest at the bottom, and that he had seen it. Sometimes it would come floating up to the shore; but when you went toward it, it would go back into the deep water and disappear … When I first paddled a boat on Walden, it was completely surrounded by thick and lofty pine and oak woods, and in some of its coves grapevines had run over the trees next the water and formed bowers under which a boat could pass. The hills which form its shores are so steep, and the woods on them were then so high, that, as you looked down from the west end, it had the appearance of an amphitheater for some kind of sylvan spectacle. I have spent many an hour, when I was younger, floating over its surface as the zephyr willed, having paddled my boat to the middle, and lying on my back across the seats, in a summer forenoon, dreaming awake, until I was aroused by the boat touching the sand, and I arose to see what shore my fates had impelled me to; days when idleness was the most attractive and productive industry.

We also visited Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Nature Preserve. It was a good place to hike in the woods.

But the main attraction is the Ipswich River.

We saw people kayaking, but the rental place wasn’t open.

Of course, another reason to go to Ipswich is the Clam Box. I didn’t take any photos of the place, so this image is off their web site.

Another location close to Stowe was Purgatory Chasm, inland and to the south. It was a great place to crawl around on the rocks. You could walk around on the bottom.

Or climb up the sides.

Way up the sides.

To the very top.

It was a lot of fun if you enjoy climbing. But there was this one place.

I should have known not to go in there. It was so narrow I had to turn sideways to pass through. The passage had a gradual descent at the entrance, but a steep way out. Once I got down there I couldn’t turn back because there were people behind me. And it was too steep for me to make it out. I had to be pulled out by my son-in-law. So embarrassing.

Now I am ready to resume the camping trip.

Newburyport and Plum Island

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