In our family it’s becoming a Halloween tradition to walk the Battle Field Road between Lexington and Concord. Here, where the British army first marched on Colonists, a Mom gets to relive history, while her young patriots maraud in the woods nearby, and the whole family enjoys the beauty of fall.
Dotting the trail of this historic park are many of the original farmsteads that witnessed firsthand the violent birth of our country. Here and there are markers noting where British soldiers perished, where Paul Revere was captured during “the midnight ride.” (He actually never made it to Concord. Samuel Prescott did.) But here, also, everyday lives were lived. At Hartwell Tavern dishes lie in the pantry, and a spinning wheel rests in a well-lit corner.
Along such a picturesque trail, it is easy to idealize (as our politicians love to do) our colonial forebearers. But of course, the reality was much more complicated than that. I was surprised to learn that by the time of the Revolution, the Colonists had so stripped the land of its natural resources that there was no wild game to be found, and they had to import their firewood from Canada. (It’s a point of familial pride that my grandfather is responsible for reintroducing from Canada the wild turkeys that we see so often today.)
I mention this not so much to judge our ancestors, but by way of disclaimer. For though these serene pictures may appear to celebrate a “simpler life,” in actual fact, there is no such thing. Good, bad, big and small, much like the Battle Road, it is the fullness of an experience that makes it more poignant. Rather than an ideal, the beauty of life is reality.