Joyce Hinnefeld


Friday, September 9, 2011

Summer's End

Once Labor Day weekend is is past, you really do have to admit that it’s over. I hate that.
And what an end to the summer. Poor Vermont! Poor us here in eastern PA. Actually, it’s not too bad here in Bethlehem--but poor Paterson, NJ and surroundings, and poor folks along the Susquehanna. Here it’s just wet, wet, wet. Everything’s moldering. But the mosses are pretty beautiful, and yesterday, running on the towpath between the very high Lehigh River and the Delaware and Lehigh Canal, I saw three--that’s three--herons. 
So I’m trying to tell myself it’s just like living in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, there you have Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, incredible bookstores and markets, etc., etc. (But remember, Joyce, you saw three herons yesterday.)
It was a great, and full, summer. We squeezed in day trips to the U.S. Open and the beach at Sandy Hook, NJ before it was all over. I was busy with grant applications, getting Anna here and there, some nice trips (to Kentucky and Indiana way back in June, to Gunpowder Falls State Park in Maryland in July, to Vermont in August), doctor’s appointments, vet appointments (we have a new kitten; his name is Mouse), and even some writing. 
A highlight for me was my trip to the Shaker Seminar in Boxborough, MA, sponsored by Hancock Shaker Village, at the end of July. I got to introduce the folks there to Stranger Here Below, and to hear some interesting talks about Shaker history. And then I traveled to the wonderful Fruitlands Museum--a site I’ve been recommending to everyone. It’s a fascinating assortment of buildings and exhibits, but maybe the most interesting, to me, was the farmhouse where Bronson Alcott (Louisa’s father) and his family, along with an Englishman named Charles Lane, tried to establish a utopian community in 1843. Other interesting people spent time there as well (among them Henry David Thoreau and an intriguing figure named Joseph Palmer, who was persecuted--even jailed--for refusing to shave his beard).
My visit led me to John Matteson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, a terrific book. Poor Bronson Alcott. What a train wreck of a husband and father--but still, those fervent nineteenth-century reformers just fascinate me.
Visit the Fruitlands Museums if you can. Read up on John Brown (there’s a great children’s book, John Hendrix’s John Brown: His Fight for Freedom, that’s made my daughter sort of the resident expert in her fifth grade class this year). And if you’re on the East Coast, try not to float away . . . .
P.S. That’s Mouse in the photo. For a while he liked to sleep atop some Salman Rushdie, which shielded him from the terrors of Inside of a Dog.

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