Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Salem, Lexington, and Maine

(See previous blog entry for part I)
We were staying outside of Boston in Chelmsford, which meant I had to do some exploring in the areas outside the city. I was determined to hit Salem and see all the witchy witchery sice it was so close to Halloween.

I visited Minuteman National Park on an crisp, unbelievably clear fall day. After walking Battle Road for a bit and reading all of the placards along the way and imagining what it must have been like for this half-trained militia of farmers and back-country people to defend themselves against the redcoats... and walking down the path and seeing the site where Paul Revere was captured by the British... I looked up at the flag flying over the visitor's center and I can honestly say I have never felt more patriotic in my entire life. It definitely made me feel a deeper sense of appreciation for our founding fathers and those who put their lives on the line, literally on a daily basis, with the odds stacked against them... all for the opportunity to live free and lay the foundation for America's future.

Next was Salem-- I made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in New Hampshire before making my way over to Salem (thank Heaven for our patient Bostonian friend Rick, who guided me via cell-phone to Salem). Upon arrival, I was ecstatic to see the cobblestone streets and witch and pirate souvenir shops, because after all, kitschy is cool! I made my way over to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial which was a lot cooler than I had expected. I guess I had somehow always tucked that whole time period away in my mind as a work of fiction, after reading "The Crucible" and watching silly movies about witches. I had forgotten, or not made the connection, that these women and men were literally killed by their society because they didn't fit the norm.

The memorial is very understated-- words of the accused (from their trials) on a concrete slab that "faded" into the dirt of a reflecting garden with tall shade trees... and along the walls of the garden are 19 benches, each with the name of someone executed during the Salem Witch Trials. Some names, like Giles Cory and Sarah Goode were recognizable. It was a very odd expereince, made you wonder what on earth could make a community turn against its citizens with such hate and paranoia that they felt hanging them or pressing them to death was a good idea. Later I toured the home of one of the judges of the trials... to think that his wife and children sat home spinning, sweing, and cooking while he condemned their neighbors to death? Eery. Especially since it is surrounded by Salem's burying ground with the Halloween-ish slate headstones and some old wooden buildings.

The last picture is an old house in Maine... it's not a significant house or anything, I just loved the tree in front of it and the blue sky. To this southerner, it was typical New England!

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