Daydreams of time

What would you do if you had more leisure time? I’m sitting outside on a glorious Sunday afternoon, cool in the shade and warm in the sun, listening to the sort of rock music meant for summer. I’m edged in a short hour between my Pastor Nominating Committee meeting & follow up emails and when I need to leave to catch a plane for Chicago for work for the next few days.*

Real life: Sunday morning soccer

My life is filled with meaningful and joyful work, almost all of which requires me to sit at a computer. Funny that, isn’t it?

But I’ve lately been having fantasies of what I’d do if I actually had real blocks of unencumbered time in which to do stuff I wanted to do (as opposed to the stuff I already decided to do – I’m a lover of novelty!). I’m quite sure I’d end up filling those hours (if not quite a packed as they are now…)

Real life: Counting the proceeds from our “change drive” for Heifer in my Sunday School class

My fantasy life isn’t what it once was. This may be partially because so many fantasies of youth have come true. I am married to a guy I totally dig, and who seems happy with me. I have two happy, healthy children. I’m working my dream job. I have a D20 tea mug. Hard to improve on this.

But lately I’ve been daydreaming a lot about writing, and history.

Real Life Saturday: foraging in the Fells

Anyway, a recent fantasy has to do with being an author. I have wanted to be an author since I first realized that a) you had to have a job b) writing books was a job. Unfortunately, I have never written a book. This puts a damper on one’s authorship. But I’ve recently come to imagine what series of books I want to write. I always wanted to write fantasy novels a la Tolkien. But it turns out I’m terrible at it. As I’ve sunk into true belonging into this amazing town I live in, though, I’ve discovered all this phenomenal history, and remarkable stories. You’ve heard me talk about this before, but it seems like every few months I find out something new and amazing about the town.

The most recent discovery came when I did a tour of Lindenwood Cemetery only to learn that Stoneham was *apparently* a hotbed of the Spiritualist Movement.

Mind you, not everyone was a fan of spiritualism.

So my latest brilliant idea is to write a series of mystery novels, loosely set in the history of Stoneham. It would start with the naked sailors & wolf attacks of the early 1700s. It would wind it’s way through the blood and suffering of the Revolutionary War. We’d get Jacob Gould’s murder, of course. The Spiritualists would follow. Perhaps then the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. That would be followed by the pugilists on Spot Pond & the mysterious “Where Shute Fell” marker in the roaring 20s (even the cursory research for this post points out that the marker far predates the prohibition prize fights!). We’d dedicate time to the great Pan Pacific Race, where Stoneham was wrongfully denied it’s place in history by cheating.

I might stop there, coming at that point to close to living remembrance to steal so boldly. Or it might be, in doing the depth and research of learning I would have to do to write these books, I’d uncover even more rich stories in the interstices. I imagine the books being threaded together by the lives of the people who span them. Silas Dean would show up often, in fact or in memory. Elizur Wright might be the hero of the Civil War book. Maybe there’d be two Civil War books – same time, two perspectives. Honestly, I might be a happy woman for decades just doing research until I felt like I knew enough to start writing. (Although given my personality, I’d probably start writing and then get sidetracked on the research.)

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Can’t you see my notebooks spread out before me, a look of concentration on my face? Can’t you imagine me hovering over the library’s microfiche machine? I imagine falling into long digressions with Dolly in the library, following heretofore unknown threads of history. Consider the hikes in the Fells to see _that spot_. The joy of unearthing just the perfect picture from forgotten archives. The maps that would need to be made and adjusted for each one of these moments in time. The cast of characters set and threaded through books.

For example, while I was writing this, Dolly sent me this picture of my neighborhood (Nobility Hill) c. 1900

Then imagine the books actually get published, to some degree of success. (Let’s be clear, this falls well into the realm of utmost fantasy.) Imagine the sectional in the library touting the local author! The tour of local sites by the Historical Commission! A book signing at the Book Oasis (where the patrons thrill to imagine the courage of the Underground Railroad travelers and conductors on the very spot where they now stand)! Imagine my sleepy town rising from the backwater of history to claim its place next to Concord and Lexington. (OK, probably not that much, but maybe people would have heard of it?) Imagine citizens walking past Silas Dean’s house with a sense of awe and ownership.

It’s a pretty good fantasy, as fantasies go.

So, you ask, what would it take to do it? The reason it’s a fantasy is because I have some idea what it takes, and I don’t have it. I’d guess it would take an hour a day, four weekdays a week. Then probably a 3 hour research block + an hour a day writing time on weekends. Obviously there could be breaks & vacations, but I find the momentum & continuity pretty critical to writing a coherent work. That’s time I simply don’t have. Last time I did Nanowrimo, my whole family felt neglected and left out. They’re my first priority, so that just won’t work. Maybe someday I’ll have that extra hour a day I need, but I don’t see that day anytime soon.

Until then, you’ll just have to continue to be my writing outlet, dear friends!
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What about you? What daydreams do you hold on to? What mighta-coulda beens while away your pleasant thoughts?

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*A friend commented how remarkable it was that I always took precisely the 10 – 11 hour on Monday mornings to write my blog post. Let me clarify – I write the post over the weekend and schedule publication. The timing is so that people actually read it, since posting on a weekend is a great way to have a readership of 10.

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The Bargain of Benjamin Gerry

Benjamin Gerry is said to have been a man of great courage. The following incident will prove it to be the fact. At that time this country was inhabited to a considerable extent by wolves. On a certain day, Gerry was out either for labor or business. He called upon a family, living upon or near where the Almshouse now stands, about dusk. It was thought rather dangerous for him to return home; however, having an axe with him, he proceeded homeward, but before proceeding far, he came in contact with a number of wolves. He braced himself against a large tree and pitched battled with his antagonists. The neighbors heard the conflict, notwithstanding he was left to conquer or die. He conquered, and returned home. In the morning, he went to the place where he fought, and there found that he had killed no less than four wolves, the fifth having walked off, leaving blood to show that he also had been wounded…

The house … afterwards occupied by the father of Benjamin Gerry .. was formerly known as the Matthews place. It is thought to have been built about seventy years since… At the season of harvesting a quantity of pumpkins were carried into the garret; one evening while the father was absent, and the mother with the children and other members of the family sat by the fireside, a noise was heard; something appeared to be coming down the stairs. It came stamp, stamp, down the garrett stairs; it then came to the entry stairs, which led to the lower door, and with increased force, came pound, pound into the entry below. There the noise ceased. The afrighted family waited with great anxiety for the return of the husband and father. When he returned, the news was communicated to him. He repaired to the entry, when on opening the door a good lusty pumpkin was reposing on the floor. Whether the house was ever afterwards haunted, is not known.

Gerry remained here for many years, but was called upon to fulfill his engagements, made previously to settling here. He left his wife and children, never to return; as it is said he fell during an engagement with a foreign enemy.

A Brief History of the Town of Stoneham, Massachusetts: From it’s First Settlement to the Year 1813 With An Account of the MURDER of Jacob Gould on the Evening of Nov. 25, 1819

Written in 1870 by Deacon Silas Dean


Everyone said my father was the second bravest man they knew. This was an old yarn they’d spin out. I think Scotchman Hay told it best, wicked grin curving around the stem of the pipe which was the only thing he’d brought from the old country. As stories about him told, whenever we were confident he was not listening, he’d even left his clothes behind when he showed up naked in my father’s barn. He had been running, as he said, from an impression aboard a redcoat war ship. But he brought the pipe, and he kept it with him.

“Ye see, my lad,” he’d say above a haze of blue Virginia smoke, “The bravest man I know’d was braver than he was wise. It was Phillips, laddie, who was the bravest I ever did meet. Why, he was out with the other men, a few years after the unpleasantness with the British, chasing after some Indians who murdered a local family. They followed ’em all the way to Concord – and a long way it was too. The sons of the forest were hiding in a rye field, and Phillips – he was warned they were there. Told him to be on his guard, they did. Told him that there was death and trouble in that field. But he answered in his decided way that ‘I am not afraid of the black rogues!’ Scarce had the words escaped his lips, ere a musket was discharged. Phillips took a fatal wound, sprung several feet off his horse and died right there on the spot.” So see, you dunna want to be the bravest man, son. You want to be the bravest man alive, lad. And your father, he is that.”

As my father’s eldest son, I worshiped him from afar, working hard on my labors to win his approval, and facing all life’s young challenges with the resolute chin and unwavering hand that seemed his legacy to me. But the closest I ever came to shaming my name was that All Hallows Eve night when he made his name as the bravest man alive.

As the sun on that day reached it’s zenith, my father made known to us that he intended to go up to see Richard Holden before dark, for he had promised his aid in setting some foundations for a new house before the ground froze for the winter. We’d spent a long morning in the uncommon heat of the fall day harvesting all our pumpkins from the patch. They’d done well this year and were plump and plentiful. We had a time carrying heavy loads of them out from the fields and straight up the stairs into the garret, where they’d be safe from freezing. Even my littlest brother had to take a hand carrying one small pumpkin at a time up the narrow, dark stairs.

It was heavy work, and we were all tired by the time the sun reached the top of the day. I hadn’t thought my father would then go on to more heavy work at the Holden’s – which was quite a walk away besides! But Benjamin Gerry was a man of his word, and he said that he thought as he carried the pumpkins that the cold might come early this year, and he had said he’d help. So weary though he was, he left after wetting his lips and tasting a morsel.

Wanting, as I did, to make my father proud of me, I returned to harvesting the fields. Without the watchful eye of my father, my brothers found other occupation in fishing nearby Doleful Pond for stripers, and I cursed them under my breath as I carried heavy load after heavy load up the rapidly dimming stairs. As the evening purpled, my mother greeted me with a cold heavy mug of cider, and turned with her faithful broom to sweep the stairs of all the mud we’d tracked in with our labors. Her face had a look of concern under her bonnet.

“Mother,” I asked, “I thank you for the cup! This year’s press is particularly fine I think. Does something give you fear?”

She turned in the black door frame, broom in hand, and looked back at me. “Well, son, I don’t doubt I’d not dare to say such a thing if your father was here. But it’s All Hallows Eve. In the old country, we’d be extra careful on such a day. We’d not go haring off to our neighbors’ so late when the work could just as easy be done on All Saints Day. Your father is a honest and brave man, and takes no stock in foolish nonsense. But I can’t help but wish he was already home tonight.”

As I sat and listened to the hiss of her broom on the rough planks, I couldn’t but think that she was right. I lit the main lamp, as the room grew dark and my brothers returned with their catch. Then I lit a second, and hung it over the door frame. I tried to tell myself that the full moon rising thick, twined about by wisps of flog, over the great expanse of the ocean between us and the old country was a good thing. My father was not yet home, but with such a bright moon he’d hardly need a lamp to find his way.

My mother had just latched the door to the stairs and switched from her cleaning apron to the cooking apron and was putting on our dinner when we heard, thin against the cold air of the night, the voices of the wolves raised in fearful chorus, rising and lapping over each other like a braiding of fell songs. My heart knew fear. My father was out there. The wolves were hunting. And it was All Hallow’s Eve. My mother’s face in the lamplight looked pinched and scared as she raised her face to the one glass window whose shutters remained open, to look at the moonlight streaming past.

“I’m sure father will be home soon, mother” I comforted her. We sat at table, my father’s place laid but bare of food. I led us in grateful thanksgiving, letting the food cool a bit as I asked that my father return safely to us, when we heard the first stamping sound from the attic, as though of men’s boots. After a quick Amen, I turned to the window to see if it might be my returning father. It wasn’t. I sat back down, and started in on my porridge.

“Stamp, stamp”

The sound was clearer now. It was certainly not outside the house. It was inside. My littlest brother left his place at the table and climbed onto my mother’s frail lap. My younger brothers, the twins, exchanged guilty looks. Poor five year old Paul dove under the table and couldn’t be brought out.

“I must’ve stacked the pumpkins wrong. A pile must’ve knocked over. Maybe if I’d had a little help,” I shot a meaningful glance at the twins “They might’ve been piled better.” Wee Tommy began to wail “I tried to help but my legs is too smaaaaaallll” he bawled.” “Crying is for sissies, Tommy. Father will be wroth if he catches you at it. Besides,” I added – a little ashamed of my temper – “I didn’t mean it for you.”

Stamp. Stamp stamp.

There was far too long between those thumps to be a settling pile of pumpkins, and we all knew it. We waited in silence, holding our breaths, the lamplight flickering over uneaten porridge and fish still steaming on the table.

Stamp stamp stamp stamp.

“Dear God, it sounds like it’s on the last stair” said my stricken mother.

There was a knocking – a polite rap – on the door to the garret stairs, as if some stranger waited there requesting entry. I thought of my father, and of his bravery, and I called out “Who is it who goes there.” The only answer was the howl of the wolves.

We waited a few minutes. I looked at the porridge – my appetite vanished despite the labors of the day – and thought of what my father would do. I took up my spoon and begin to eat. After a few moments, my family did likewise. My sister Ruth had almost coaxed young Paul out from under the table, and the twins started arguing about who’d caught more fish, when the rapping came again from the door. This time, it came louder.

The spoons clattered to the table. I held mine in limp fingers. Paul fled under the table, and after a moment of quick reflection, Ruth went with him.

Over the next hour, the banging grew and increased in intensity, pounding on the door as though the very fist of the devil knocked and sought entry. Four great crashes it gave, quick against each other. The door shook and rattled with the battering from the darkness on the other side. I looked at the latch and wondered if it would hold. I took the splitting maul from the side of the door – my father had taken the axe with him when he went to the Holden’s, as there would be cutting to be done for the posts – and stood in front of the door in case it should break. My mother, sister and brothers all clung to each other – backs pressed against the far wall – porridge and fish alike uneaten. After the fourth crash, there was a smaller pounding, and then all fell silent.

When the door flung open, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Not the door to the garret, no. But the front door. And in strode my father, limping, carrying an axe covered in blood and brains and fur – as he himself was.

He stopped short when he saw me, pale as February, facing the door in fear.

“What’s happening lad?” he asked.

“Father,” I gulped. Here he was covered in blood, and I needed to explain that there had been knocking on the door, and we had been scared by it. I was saved from this when the door gave the most terrific crash.

“Ah, I see.” He said. It seemed like he did. He was totally unsurprised. He walked over to the door, raised the sturdy latch, and the moonlight through the yet-unbarred window streamed past the golden lamplight to reveal what had knocked.

There, at the landing to the door, were five pumpkins. Or rather, they had been five pumpkins. They were smashed to smithereens. Their pulp reached all the way up the walls in gory orange entrails – up to even the ceiling itself. It showed brilliant against the new whitewash. In the oozing pulp, you could see the tops of four pumpkins scattered amidst seeds. On the third stair up there stood a more whole pumpkin. It was cracked down the middle, and juice leaked down the stairs in a trickle, but it looked to my fevered mind as though it was escaping from the slaughter below.

My father raised his axe and smote the last pumpkin, smearing it on either side with red blood. The blade bit deep into the stairs, almost cleaving the broad board in two.

He turned back to us, staring white-faced and wide-eyed.

“I smell fish.” He said, “Is there enough for a hungry old man?”


I was a man grown, and my own eldest son was the age young Paul had been, when my father got news that he was needed and that he must go. In the few days given him to prepare, he found time to pull me aside.

“Elbridge” said he. “Do you remember the pumpkins?”

I’d always thought it remarkable that a man of such courage, a man who on that fateful All Hallows Eve had slain four wolves with a back against a tree, and then come home to cheerfully dispense with our fears before digging into my brothers’ ill-gotten-fish, had been very kind in not teasing us about our fears of that day. In fact, he’d never spoken of it, even as the legend of his battle with the wolves was the talk of every tongue, and the 16 pound bounty he’d claimed from their pelts had allowed my father to pull me from the fields and send me to Harvard, an act which would change my life. The only change was that we no longer planted pumpkins. Given that none of us could even stomach a pumpkin pie, this seemed no odd thing to me.

“I do father. Will you throw my fear and cowardice in my face now, when you have forborne to do so for so many years?”

“Nay” he said. “Before I go, I wanted to explain. You see, there was something great to fear that night. I never should have left under that cursed witches moon, on that cursed night, in the twilight. You know the story of how I set my back to a tree and faced those wolves. It was a mighty pack. I killed four and mortally wounded the fifth before the others fled. But what I never told anyone was that it was uncanny. I knew as they circled me in the dark, the full moon gleaming off their eyes, that I was already as good as dead. I prayed as hard and fast as I could. It’s possible that I forgot to be quite a good Christian man at the worst possible time, and I found myself praying for a bargain, to anyone who might be listening.

“It came to mind mind that someone was very curious what bargain I’d make. I said I’d pay later if I could come through this all right and make it home. I said that for each wolf I’d kill, I’d ask for a year years. It made no sense, even in my head, even as my axe spun around me.

“But it came to me that my bargain was granted, and that my family would be let to know too. That part didn’t seem quite… nice shall we say.

“So I laid about me with my axe. I killed two easy. The third I took a wound in my leg as I killed it. The fourth is the one that got me arm. And the fifth knocked me down to the ground and it’s teeth were bared to rip out my throat when I laid about with the axe and managed to knock it off me. It slunk away bleeding, and the rest of the pack went with it, but…”

He paused from oiling his old sword.

“Well, son.. it talked to me as it went, laughing. It said, “Four of us killed. Very good. That’s four years. And I’m wounded, you might call me almost a fifth. Not quite five. But when not quite five are come, it will be your time to make good on your bargain, Benjamin Gerry, and present your soul to the one you bargained with. You know old Jack. He makes a good pie, and a better bargain. Go home to your family. Jack o’ the lantern knocks on their door too. And think to that day when you will be called upon to keep your part.

“And then, son, he faded into the darkness. And I came home and found the four and a half pumpkins, and I knew.

“That was four and a half years, ago, Elbridge. And now I’m called – old though I am – to go fight with my former legion. I think that I shall not escape death again. But I wanted you to know. Never again plant those devilish gourds. And never make a bargain where your soul is at stake. Pray for me, for I will never see your face again nor know aught of heaven’s joys.”

That All Hallow’s Eve, I found on the front steps of my house a pumpkin, carved with a face like a wolf, gleaming in the light of a full moon.

Of my father, no word ever came again.

Notes:
1) Silas Dean makes it clear that Benjamin Gerry was not actually the father in the pumpkin story – only that it was Benjamin Gerry’s father’s house prior to the incident.
2) Scotchman Hay did come off a boat and did work on Benjamin Gerry’s land, and there WAS a naked sailor who showed up naked in a barn, but it wasn’t Scotchman Hay, it was a man named Hadley. There are no fewer than three residents of Stoneham who got their start jumping overboard from unwelcomed stints in Boston harbor.
3) The story about Phillips is also in the book, and much of the language is exactly what Silas Dean used in telling the story. Nineteenth century authors were often very racist and one-sided. They omit to remember in their writing that they were conquerors who had stolen much of this land from the native folk they rightly feared.
4) I’m not sure exactly where Richard Holden’s land’s, or the Matthew’s place, are. We know that the wolf attack took place near the Almshouse – which is now the Senior Center and the soccer fields nearby. I often think of this when I watch my sons play soccer there, and wonder just where Benjamin stood in his fight for his life against the wolves.
5) Silas Dean says that Elbridge Gerry served in the Madison administration. There’s an localish Elbridge Gerry who signed both the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, but did not sign the constitution. That Gerry doesn’t seem to have grown up in Stoneham. His father owned major mercantile resources, and was less likely to be out late at night taking on predatory carnivores. There was also a line of Elbridge Gerrys in Stoneham, but none of them were born to Benjamin. I think Silas may have gotten confused with the reoccurrence of such a rare name.

Running just as fast as we can, now

Spoiler - we just ran a 5k!
Spoiler – we just ran a 5k!

I am not a fitness guru. I’m not even a fitness padawan. I’m a “fitness happens to other people” kind of person. I just did a search of “running” on my blog, and in the first two pages of results, there are none that actually involve… you know… running.

But I also follow the latest research. It turns out that being a great cook and having a job where you sit for a living is not a recipe for happy longevity. I’ve noticed that over time, my mass has gradually crept up. I never lost the baby weight from Grey. Or Thane. And to be completely honest, it was cold water on my face when I stepped on a scale and saw that my weight was about as high as it had been when I was in my third trimester. Taken just on it’s own, that’s bad enough. But as a trend line it just had to be stopped. At some point – perhaps not that far from now – the extra weight would start affecting my mobility (if not my health). Like most people, I find it extremely difficult to lose weight once I’ve gained it. This makes not gaining weight of critical importance.

Tragically, the “easy” ways to lose weight don’t work. Heck, the hard ways to lose weight only work very grudgingly and with great pains. But this spring, I got back to carefully watching the calories in vs calories out.

Pretty typical lunch for me - I'm extremely lucky to have access to free, super high quality healthy food at work
Pretty typical lunch for me – I’m extremely lucky to have access to free, super high quality healthy food at work

If you’ve ever done that, you know that the calories in required to reduce your mass is a desperately small amount. A 1500 or even 1800 calorie diet means that every meal is super small and there are very few snacks. And wine or beer? Fuggedaboutit. But there’s this great tradeoff you can make. If you increase your calories OUT you can take more calories IN. Want a piece of cake? Desperate for some brie and crackers? Longing for lemonade? If you go for a run, you can have eat your cake, and make your goals too.

I picked running because my friend Julie mentioned how much she’d been enjoying it. Also, it was free and immediately available. Don’t underestimate free and immediately available as important criteria for your workout plans. I have access to a gym at work. (But no time.) I used to have a local gym membership (but hated the locale – it was the sort of place that has dire warnings in the locker room regarding the dangers of steroids). I’d run a bit before I blew out my knee, and I’d done track in high school (badly). So I had decent shoes, something to wear and enough training not to hurt myself. Although it’s worth noting that my orthopedic surgeon has said I should try for lower impact sports – I’ll never aim for a marathon because I don’t have enough cartilege in my left knee to support it.

Remarkably consistent with one run a week the last few weeks
Remarkably consistent with one run a week the last few weeks

I ran for about a mile, stopping to walk. The next time, I ran for a mile and didn’t stop to walk. Then I ran longer distances. Julie recommended I use RunKeeper to track my runs, since data is motivational. (She’s right, by the way.) Then Adam started joining me on my runs (Tragically, I slow him down. Men. It’s not fair how much more easily he gets in shape than I do!). Then, we ran in our town’s super low key 5K race. (Side note, the organizers at the Boys and Girls Club of Stoneham deserve all the credit in the world for putting together such a nice, safe, and well run race!)

Maybe next time I'll be in the top half of my age group....
Maybe next time I’ll be in the top half of my age group….

Julie asked me if I get the runner’s high that’s so talked about. For months now I’ve tragically lamented that I don’t seem to get that part. But I wonder if it’s sneaking up on me. It takes a lot of willpower to 75 miles. But somehow, it appears that I’ve done just that. How remarkable!

Let's go!
Let’s go!

Charlestown End – The Old Burying Ground

Jacob Gould's Grave
Jacob Gould’s Grave

The Old Burying Ground in Stoneham was opened to visitors today. For years it’s been opened on Halloween weekend – at the exact same time as the town trick or treating. So I haven’t been able to go. But I’ve been falling in with the historical crowd lately, and they realized that we parents love history as much as our kids love candy and were awesome to set up this great second session this year.

Familiar faces
Familiar faces

My trip to the Burying Ground this last Halloween kicked off an extremely fun month for me. I was doing Nanowrimo with a friend. I saw this amazing tombstone with its rich old story of Jacob Gould “barbarously murdered by ruffians in his own dwelling” and I looked it up on Google. Google books led me to more of the story in Silas Dean’s gossipy 1843 history of Stoneham (which is right there an argument on how awesome the internet can be!) and I went down a monthlong rabbit hole of local history and lore while I wrote a werewolf book about the strange misadventures. I had an absolute blast, although I sadly have not finished the book.

I did learn what they found when they opened the three crypts. New life goal: be there when they open one of the three crypts.

Rare to get a government tombstone for a nurse
Rare to get a government tombstone for a nurse

They had three reenactors there, all of whom were excellent. One played the role of a Civil War nurse (who apparently had to be older than 30, of high moral standing, and rather plain). She told the story of how Hannah was buried in sight of the house she’d grown up with, across the alley on Oriental Avenue. And I stood there, in ground set aside at the turn of the 19th century where were buried Revolutionary War heroes, slaves, native Americans and pilgrim-folk and I thought about what it is to be at home.

He could have seen Shakespeare's plays as a young man.
He could have seen Shakespeare’s plays as a young man.

Many of the people lying there were not Stoneham born. They came from England, Wales, Africa… or as far as from Maine or Connecticut. They came to a frontier town, or a sleepy bywater. They came to a new place and built a place for themselves there. When they died they consigned their remembrances to the uneven soils of this burying ground. Hundreds of years later, we walk by twice a year to greet them. And where they were strangers to me last October, as May came I greeted them instead as friends.

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier

My heart has long lain in the rugged stark mountains of the West. It’s a land that feels as though history lies lightly upon it. The stories of the people who first lived there have never been told to me. The stories of my people are short – the town I grew up in is just over 100 years old. There are residents who remember the first people there. But for most of my life, I’ve been FROM Washington.

I think that may begin to be changing. I’ve lived in New England 20 years. Sixteen of those have been in Massachusetts, and eight of THOSE in Stoneham. How can I turn my back on Deacon Silas Dean, Jacob and Polly Gould, Benjamin Gerry, Elizur Wright, Parker G. Webber and the cast of folks – brave, strong, moral, funny and complicated who have also moved here from elsewhere, and made it their home? Fortunately, the question of home is not one you have to put exactly one answer to on a form. We may come from many places. But as I learn more here, meet more friends, run into more people at the store, and walk even the graveyards with familiarity, I find myself more and more at home.

This creepy cherub is totally judging me.
This creepy cherub is totally judging me.

Enjoy all my pictures from the day at the graveyard!