9.25.14 Fellowship

Harvard 790 xxx
iPhotos by gluttonforlife
This past weekend I attended my 30-year reunion at Harvard. It seems almost inconceivable that so many moons have gone by since my classmates and I were unleashed into the world, for that sounds like a lifetime ago and I remember it as though it were yesterday. The passing of time was never more apparent than when I stood with my freshman roommate and her son, now a junior at Harvard. It seemed both impossible and inevitable. In three decades we have all endured much, changed in a thousand ways. And yet it was remarkably easy to recognize each other, even with the new wrinkles and scars. The love was palpable, and the gratitude. As I learned five years ago at our 25th reunion, there is an overwhelming sense of joy in just being alive and present—in this moment and in the past. It was a golden time and that time is not yet over.
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we are family
It was such bliss to be with old friends. We are all spread about now on various coasts and continents, so our shared moments are incredibly precious. Over the years, we have born witness to each other's lives—the triumphs and humblings, the births and deaths—and the result is that we know each other in a deep way that comes only with time. That closeness engenders real compassion and an unconditional, loving support that is supremely comforting. Plus, we know each other's secrets, which leads to a lot of wicked laughter.
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at the end of the weekend, my face literally ached from smiling
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manor house
I was overcome by how beautiful Cambridge is, and by how little notice I had taken of that during my college years. (Busy as I was with other more "interesting" pursuits.) The cobblestoned alleys, the stately old homes, the lovely plantings—these features suddenly came into sharper focus. When a friend regaled me with details of his visit to the historic Longfellow House on Brattle Street, I knew I could not pass up such an experience.

Prior to being the residence of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the house was the headquarters of George Washington in 1775, when he was a general overseeing the Siege of Boston. Its Georgian-style architecture looks especially grand and inviting where its sits on a large lawn, its extended property studded with old oak trees stretching down to the Charles River.
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hail fellow well met
Longfellow, one of the five Fireside Poets, wrote many famous lyric poems, including Paul Revere's Ride and The Song of Hiawatha. A polylinguist, he was the first American to translate Dante's The Divine Comedy. Originally a boarder at the house on Brattle Street—when the owner fell on hard times and was forced to rent out rooms—Longfellow was given the house upon his marriage to the daughter of a wealthy textile magnate. He and Frances "Fanny" Appleton lived there happily with their five children.
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a portrait of the previous owner's wife
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fanny, busted
Sadly, Fanny met an untimely end at age 44 when her dress caught fire and she was badly burned. Longfellow never remarried. He expressed his grief in the sonnet "The Cross of Snow" which he wrote in 1879, eighteen years after her death:

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
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the descendants, sons Charles and Ernest
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work surface
I loved seeing the room where Longfellow worked, including his standing desk with its small statue of Dante prominently displayed, and an ebony bust of Molière perched on high. The shelves are filled with volumes written by idols and peers, including Dickens, who visited Longfellow at the house on more than one occasion.
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Outside the house is a lovely garden shaped like a lyre, whose construction was overseen by Longfellow shortly after his marriage, and that years later became the pride of his daughter, Alice. Across Brattle Street is a municipal park in which sits a 1914 memorial by sculptor Daniel Chester French. In addition to a bust of the poet, there is a carved bas-relief by Henry Bacon that depicts characters from Longfellow's poetry, including Miles Standish, a village blacksmith, a student, Evangeline and Hiawatha. The whole place reeks of history in the best possible way. 

I wandered into the park and collected a big sack of acorns that were still falling from those mighty oaks. I plan to leach them, dry them and grind them into flour. I will use this to make pancakes, which I will eat in my upstate cottage kitchen, gazing out the window at the wintry landscape. I will remember how the golden light reflected off the Charles, where geese floated by on the current and the banks were thick with wild clematis, and I will savor every bite.



...splendid reflection, brief moment of perfection ~ thank you
Suzie Ariel on September 25, 2014 at 10:34 am —
Love this piece. Love you. The notion of ingesting a piece of that history - carrying it with you into a snowy winter. You have even given meaning to pancakes. Remarkable. Can I come for breakfast my beauty??
Miranda on September 25, 2014 at 10:53 am —
You can and you must. xo
laura on September 25, 2014 at 11:58 am —
As lyrical as Longfellow's poems, as beautiful as the Brattle Street homes, and as savory as acorn flour pancakes.
Paul Connolly on September 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm —
And all thanks to you, classmate! xo
laura on September 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm —
Viva la reunion! Love Cambridge...did you visit Cuchi Cuchi?
thefolia on September 27, 2014 at 1:05 am —
No, there was not much eating out - except late night French fries at Charlie's Kitchen, of course...
laura on September 27, 2014 at 7:16 am —
Beautifully written...I want to taste those 'acorn flour' pancakes!! All best.. Julie G
Julie Gross on September 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm —