Orchard House/Concord [The home of Louisa May Alcott]: There has always been a house I felt I knew even though I had never crossed its threshold. It lived in my mind and in my heart.
There I learned that “love casts out fear…” there I smiled with the cry of “Let us be elegant or die!” … and during trials I remembered not to be “afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
For me, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott has always been an ever present story in my life. Her home was one I felt I too lived in. I can’t tell you how many times I longed to be with the March sisters, writing for their newspaper, playing Roderigo in Jo’s play, falling in love with Laurie their next door neighbor, or spending Christmas with them singing carols in their parlor.
Visiting Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts reminded me again of the power of story and the power of place.
I remembered that it really doesn’t matter how ornate or expanse a home is for it be special. Orchard House is small, dressed in the sketches of May Alcott (Amy March), and filled with the love of a family that was far ahead of its time. It’s the best house, other than my mother’s, that I’ve ever been in.
Bronson Alcott built Louisa a desk in her room which was quite scandalous for the times, his school allowed girls and people of color to learn side-by-side in the 1800’s, and his wife and their beloved Marmie tirelessly taught, encouraged, and loved her little women, “The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.”
To have a home such as Orchard House is to have a home that is safe for all, those who live in it and those who visit.
And, only in that safety that home instills in us can we find the courage and confidence to be what we could be and to “do something splendid before I go into my castle- something heroic or wonderful, that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day.”
May we all strive to have homes that inspire, not by how they look, but by how they feel.
For more information on Orchard House and the Amazing Alcott Family, please visit these sites:
All quotations are from Little Women. All photos are my own, June 22, 2015.