In my last post, I showed you the Mark Twain house. As I mentioned, the Harriet Beecher Stowe house is across the lawn.

Click on the image to make it larger

The Beecher Stowe house, with gingerbread trim, is a modest size compared to Samuel Clemen's house:

The home where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Harriet Beecher (Stowe) received her early education in the town of her birth, Litchfield, CT. Her father, Lyman, worked as a teacher of Religion at Sarah Pierce's Litchfield Female Academy and Harriet attended the school. She was encouraged to develop critical thinking skills by partaking in vigorous intellectual debates... often during family dinner time!

When she was thirteen, she began attending the Hartford Female Seminary, in Hartford, CT. Her sister, Catherine, founded the girl's school in Hartford. As Harriet become aware of the issue of slavery, she was determined to bring the issue into the nation's consciousness. She and her brother Henry often spoke publicly against slavery and its moral degradation. Her brother became well known for his sermons (against slavery), which were delivered at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, NY.

Harriet was an older woman by the time she moved into the house at Nook Farm, in Hartford. She lived there with her husband and their twin daughters, Eliza and Harriet.

She had seven children, losing at least one to childhood illness. She recalled having used her sorrow (after the death of a son to cholera) as a way to understand what it may have been like when enslaved mothers had to give up their children, which is a theme in Uncle Tom's Cabin. As she wrote, Harriet had her daughters proofread her manuscript. When it was finally ready to send to her publisher, she needed three more copies to be made. Her daughters hand-wrote the three additional copies!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's house is described by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center as follows:

Harriet Beecher Stowe's home (1871) illustrates the lasting popularity of the gothic-revival cottage and the influences of architects Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux... The house combines architectural details like the steep hip-roof and graceful exterior trim with the balanced proportion of bay windows and porches on each side. Boasting an interior of 4500 square feet, the façade was designed to make the house appear smaller than it actually is, resulting in a welcoming effect. While smaller than other homes in Stowe's Nook Farm neighborhood, Stowe's house nevertheless contains 14 rooms.

... OK. So I don't really label myself a Yankee, but I like the headline!

(Note: all sources will be identified at the end of this post)

One of the things that I like about visiting Connecticut is touring the homes of historic authors. I didn’t have a lot of hours to play, so I only visited places within a 45 minute drive of my Connecticut apartment. So, I visited the homes of Noah Webster, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

My first destination:

Before I write about Noah Webster, I want to tell you why “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” is on the sign. It is Connecticut’s State Motto and it can be translated as, "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains." (dr. delagar… correct me if I am wrong!!) I have read that the vines represent Connecticut Colony and that “He Who Transplanted” refers to God. The transplanted vines are the English people who came to the new land. So… He who transplanted them still watches over them.

You may recall, Noah Webster was the author of many books and spellers, but is most known for publishing the first American English dictionary. The 1828 edition had 70,000 defined words. In this dictionary, he updated (some would say Americanized) the spelling of many British English words, such as changing honour to honor. It was the fifth edition; the first edition had been published in 1806. He lived in New Haven during those years.

A page from the 1828 (first) edition is pictured below:

Note: When you look at the image, check out the word STURK, defined as a “young ox or heifer.” I have never seen that word. I wonder if it is still used, or if the word is obsolete. If you know that the word STURK is still used today, please write a comment. I am curious to know!

Below are some original spellers, authored by Noah Webster. People are most familiar with the McGuffy Readers, but Webster’s spellers came first! They fell out of favor when the McGuffy Readers gain popularity in the schools and among those schooled at home.

A speller was used to help to learn to read and spell. Noah Webster wrote the first three American-English spellers. The Blue Backed Speller was first published in 1783 as Part I of A Grammatical Institute of the English Language.

"…as a writer, he saw a national language as the way to unite the many states into a single culture.”

I presume that this was his writing desk (below.) I know that the trunk was the one he used to transport his belongings between the Colonies, England and France.

He is buried in the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, around the corner from where my husband was raised.

In the portrait of Noah Webster, below, I wonder about a few things:

Is that a real skull being used as a paperweight??

Check out the page of the book he is reading. Is that a black man in chains? What is he reading about?

Look out the window. There are slaves outside of his window doing some planting. Noah Webster wrote a book, Effects of Slavery on Morals and Industry, so I wonder what his position was on the issue of slavery. I guess that if I read his book, I might figure it out!

… I also wonder why would he keep books, papers and a musical instrument on the floor??

(Click on the image to make it larger)

I drove over to the Clemens and Beecher Stowe houses. Both houses share a common yard, but they are separate entities. The Clemens family (Samuel, his wife Olivia and their three young daughters, Suzy, Clara and Jean) and Harriet Beecher Stowe lived there at the same time. Samuel Clemens was middle aged and Harriet Beecher Stowe was elderly when they were neighbors. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived with her husband and adult twin daughters.

Their properties were part of an area known as “Nook Farm,” which was a community of artists, writers and activists.

Brothers-in-law John Hooker and Francis Gillette purchased 140 acres of pasture and woodland and founded the community. William Gillette, the actor who played Sherlock Holmes, grew up in the neighborhood. Many suffragettes lived in the “Nook Farm” neighborhood, which is mostly along Forest Street in Hartford. The Houghton-Hepburn family moved there around the time that the Clemens sold their home in 1903. Katharine Hepburn’s mother and father were very active in the women’s rights movement and in educating the public about the dangers of venereal disease. Her father was a urologist at Hartford Hospital and treated many of the prostitutes that lived in the local brothels.

As you drive down Forest Street, the houses are grand. Many of the homes were custom-built by nationally renowned architects. (If you decide to visit the area, keep in mind that the street is surrounded by a ghetto. It is no longer an exclusive neighborhood, although it is still beautiful!)

The Mark Twain house is an architectural masterpiece. The bricks are designed to look like stenciling.  This theme continues in the house. Louis Comfort Tiffany’s company designed and painted the elaborate stencils seen throughout the house, yet most prominent in the grand foyer. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures inside the house, but I will write to the curator and ask permission to use their official photos. With permission, I will add them to this post.

The roof is made of slate. Each individual slate was hand-carved and follows a diamond pattern, as seen below:

The detailed brickwork is awe-inspiring.

Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and his wife Olivia believed in bringing nature indoors. A conservatory was built off of the main sitting room, where the family would gather to play games and present plays. As you can see from the outside, the conservatory is full of lush greenery and some exotic plants and trees. The floor is made of multi-colored slate tiles. If you look closely at the image, you can see a statue through the windows. The garden is beautifully designed and the windows let light into an otherwise dark house:

The open porches face what used to be a beautiful ravine and a little river that lined the property (Park River.) Unfortunately, urban sprawl has devoured the once park-like view. The river has been re-routed and now it flows through a concrete pipe under the ground. The woods are gone; apartment buildings have taken their place. There are still enough woods to imagine how beautiful it must have once looked.

Sources:

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Noah Webster House Museum

Mark Twain House and Museum

Earlier this year, I drove to Lenox, Massachusets to visit Edith Wharton's estate. Driving through the Berkshires is always a pleasure. I had never been to The Mount before and it was magnificent. It is just off of Route 7, on a little side street.

From the entrance, one can only see the stable and a small house.

Mount Stable

It is not until you walk down a wooded pathway for about a half mile that you see the Mount gradually appear.

Path leading up to The Mount

The path is very serene, but I wouldn't suggest taking a leisurely stroll at sunset. The mosquitos are carnivorous and you will be their prey! As I walked further up the path, I saw the Mount! I had envisioned something quite diferent from what I initially saw.

Back of the Mount

This is the actual front of the Mount, although most people think the garden side of the house is the front. As I walked through the whitewashed stone wall, I could see a garden in the distance. Inside the stone wall is a courtyard, which would have been where carraiges parked.  The house is a brick structure, painted white. Although the house was built on a grand scale, the front door is quite plain with straight lines.

Plain door

When I entered the house, I was fascinated with the spaces in which Edith Wharton lived and wrote. Her first book, The Decoration of Houses, which was co-written with Odgen Codman Jr., was about architectural design. The Mount was built 5 years after the book was published. One can imagine, quite correctly, that the Mount is a masterpiece of design.

Edith Wharton collected the finest tapestries from around the world, to adorn the walls. One example is in the parlor:

Mount parlor

One of my favorite rooms at the Mount is the parlor, where the tapestry above is located. Edith Wharton did some of her writing in this room, and I imagine she entertained guests here, also.

Mount Parlor 2

The rooms are adjoined by a hallway (on each floor) called a "gallery" which feature sculptures on pedestals. Artwork also adorns the walls. Here is a photo of one of the sculptures on a pedestal in the first floor gallery.

Gallery Foyer at the Mount

This house is grand and opulent, so it surprised me to see that Edith's bathroom is quite small and plain. I'm sure that at some point there was a vanity in between the sconces. The view out the window overlooks the landscaped gardens.

Edith's bathroom

The above picture was taken at night.

Below is a picture taken the next day. You can see the landscape outside the window.

Edith's bathroom2

The gardens outside of the Mount are reminiscent of the ornamental gardens of 18th century England. Here are some photos of the landscape architecture and gardens at the Mount:

the_mount_garden

Wharton gardens

These photos are beautiful, but they can't capture the scents and sounds. I felt very peaceful when walking the grounds. Whatever may have been troubling me in the "real" world escaped my mind. While I was at the Mount, I felt removed from the world and all its problems. That is why I describe the grounds and the pathway leading up to the house as serene.

As the sun was setting, I took a walk down to the Wharton's pet cemetery. Yes, they cherished their dogs and buried them in graves, with gravestones.

Toto's grave at the Mount

Miza's grave at the Mount

Source: savethemount.org
Source: savethemount.org

Miza is in the center of the photo. Miza's grave is the one above this picture.

Modele's grave at the Mount

Edith Wharton's husband was also a dog lover. His favorite dog is said to have been "Jules." Below is a photo of Teddy and Jule on a horse.

Source: www.helpsavethemount.org
Source: www.helpsavethemount.org

... and here is a picture of Jules's grave

Jules grave at the Mount

I will end this post by showing a photo of the Mount, taken at night. It has quite a different feel at night. Quite spooky, actually!

Mount in the dark

The time that I spent at the Mount was very enjoyable. I learned a lot about Edith Wharton and her relationships with husband Teddy Wharton and their good friend, Henry James. I will add a separate post about her life and works.

This was a beautiful weekend and I kept every window open for about 10 hours. Most of the day was spent out on the front porch listening to birds singing while studying and reading. My indoor cats sat on the various window sills, pseudo-hunting. Poor kitties... they want to pounce on those robins and the damn screens are in the way!

The breeze moved the curtain onto the other side of the half-table, creating a silhouette.

When a brown recluse spider came down from its web and landed on my laptop, I decided to head indoors, but not before taking this picture of my garden table:

A bird has a nest inside this little birdhouse. I thought it would never happen, since it is not high off of the ground. I enjoy studying outside, but soon it will be too humid.

The semester is coming to an end and I am determined to be well prepared this time. I will have papers and projects completed this coming week so that I can devote the last remaining weeks studying for exams. Therefore, my kitchen table looks like this:

I am working on a paper (rather, the idea of a paper) for my 'Major Works of Drama' class and don't want to choose a typical topic. Therefore, I am researching 19th century women who wrote 'closet' dramas. Of course, I will discuss the patriarchal constraints under which they lived and wrote. The following books are excellent research materials:

During my evening bath, I always read in order to wind down and get into relaxation-mode. My current bathtub book is "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf. A few years ago, I had to read it for a class. Now, I am revisiting the novel on my own terms! I am enjoying it much more the second time around.

Lately, I have been thinking that I don't do enough of anything beside studying and writing. My husband is stuck in another state working (indefinitely, it seems) and I am alone with the cats. To keep from getting (more) depressed, I have decided to do something I used to enjoy... cross-stitching.  I began a project when I was in New England, but I put it away and haven't worked on it in 8 months. It is a scene of Old Sturbridge Village .

This is what I've done thus far.

... and this is what it will look like when it is finished.

The house I stitched can be found in the center of this photo. Do you recognize it? My treetops aren't quite finished yet! I usually stitch on linen, but this project is on 18-  count Aida cloth. I think stitching on linen makes a smoother appearance.

It is getting late, so I bid you 'Goodnight!'

Whenever I go to Connecticut, there are two places that I always visit. I have written about them in a previous post, but they are precious enough to mention again... and again! Both places are in Madison ... my all-time favorite town in Connecticut.

1) The independent bookstore, R.J. Julia Booksellers.

When you walk in the front door (pictured above), this is what is on the right. It is a nook where classic literature is shelved and where I was compelled to buy Jude the Obscure during one of my visits, a few years ago. YIKES!

I love the hard wood floors and all of the wooden book cases. This store really feels like home to me. It is cozy, with just enough light.

When you browse the shelves... not sure what to read... no fear! The staff has suggestions and they write little reviews on index cards to help you. See the example below:

The bookstore has a second floor! I get excited when bookstores have a second floor. The stairway is beautiful, too. This store is more to me than a place to buy books. It has architectural features that take my breath away.

The creaky stairs add to the ambiance! Maybe it's just me...

...and just when you've had your fill of browsing and you finally pick out that special book... R.J. Julia Café is the perfect place to read while you have lunch!

I took this picture in the middle of winter, but this is the outside patio. I like to sit out here in the summer. The bookstore sets up iron chairs and tables (pretty black ones) in the courtyard.

It is a nice place to relax while eating one of their many salad, soups, and sandwiches. When I go there, I always have the salad with cranberries, candied walnuts, mandarin oranges, goat cheese, and chicken. Yum!! I like to order the French Sparkling Lemonade. On a cold day, I order a bowl of Butternut Squash soup or Tomato Bisque.

I almost forgot to mention the book signings!!

Thanks to the R.J. Julia Booksellers book-signing events, I have met Peter Jennings,  Giada De Laurentiis and Jacques Pépin (a Madison, CT resident.) Last Valentine's Day, I gave my husband a signed copy of Jacques Pépin's "More Fast Food My Way. It meant a lot to him... and Giada is as nice in person as she is on her Food Network programs.

After going to R.J Julia's, I drove south on Route One to my other favorite destination in Madison...  Hammonassett Beach, on Long Island Sound. I arrived in time to capture the sunset. It was about 28 degrees outside, but I was bundled up, so I was able to walk up and down the beach without getting cold.

The seagulls were amazing. They were floating on the water, way off of the shore. They didn't seem to be diving for fish. They were just hanging out in the frigid water.

In the image below, I like the juxtaposition of snow on the sandy beach.

I like how the sunlight rests on the rocks in the image below:

...and the sun sets...

In the image below, notice how the clouds reflect on the water directly below the clouds. The left half of the water is colorful and the right half of the water is not. Cool, huh?

Love those seagull silhouettes!

... and finally, it was so dark that I could hardly photograph anything. This was the last picture that I took:

Hope you enjoyed our little online field trip to my favorite places in Madison, CT.

I love all of New England. I would happily spend the rest of my life in Connecticut. I wish we could live in Madison!

OK... now for the good stuff:

After not seeing my husband for 4 months, I had a surprise for him. I told him to get in the Jeep and that I would drive us to an undisclosed location... 5 hours north. His only responsibility was to keep good music on the radio. We arrived at the mystery place at around 3 PM:

We had to be somewhere at 4:30 PM. All he knew was that we would be driving up a steep mountain on snowy roads. YIKES! But... our Jeep handled in well. Where... you may wonder... were we destined to be at 4: 30 PM??

Surprise!!! We went to Trapp Family Lodge. Do you recall the vonTrapp family of "The Sound of Music" fame? They left Austria and settled in Stowe, Vermont because the mountains resembled their beloved Edelweiss. Well, that was our mystery destination.

What would two people (who do not ski) be doing at Trapp Family Lodge... one of the top 5 ski resorts in the world... at the height of ski season??

Going for a horse drawn sleigh ride.... of course!!

Even though it was 14 degrees... with a wind chill making it feel like it was 5 below... we went for a ride in an open sleigh! We were dressed in layers, with scarves wrapped around our faces and two down blankets covering our legs. Not exactly toasty, but it took the frostbite potential down a couple notches.

My husband was very happy about my surprise and was impressed with how I managed to keep him in suspense until we walked up to the sign in the first picture. He thought I wanted us to cross-country ski. Maybe next time...

After the sleigh ride, we went into the Lodge and had mulled cider. I loved how each mug of cider came with a cinnamon stick and slice of orange. My husband was a bit worn out from the frigid half hour ride, but he survived!

The next day, we drove to Hardwick, Vermont to visit one of my favorite independent bookstores: The Galaxy Bookshop. I have written about it in a previous post.

I discovered this bookstore in 1993 when I was riding along the back roads in the Northeast Kingdom section of Vermont. As I mentioned in a previous post, the bookstore is in a former bank, so it has an interesting interior.

The Children's section is inside the vault! I brought my twin boys here when they were small. They would sit in there and look at books for 30-45 minutes at a time, while I browsed. When I took this picture, I could remember so clearly how they would hang out in there. Now they are 16...

I love the window design and the granite floors.

The next day, I took my husband to Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, VT. Next door to the cider mill is a winery that sells supplies. My husband makes his own hard cider, so he was thrilled to get some white wine yeast. It is hard to find that stuff!

His favorite section seemed to be wherever coffee was brewing. I don't drink coffee, but he need regular doses throughout the day in order to function! Case in point:

On the way back to the highway for the ride back to Connecticut, we stopped by Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream headquarters.

Neither of us are ice cream eaters, but how could we resist?

The most interesting things I learned while there was that Ben and Jerry decided to take a $5.00 correspondence course to learn how to make ice cream. Then, they bought a $25.00 ice cream machine and opened up their business in Burlington, VT in a tiny retail space. To drum up business, they bought a bus (pictured above) and would drive around giving out free samples. Their little business grew. Now, that is impressive!! They've since moved on...

My husband dubbed our overnight excursion our "second honeymoon." I agree.

You have reached the end of part one...

I prefer to own books, although I download audio books from my library's website when there is a book I really want to "hear." When I buy a book, there is nothing like going to an independent bookstore. When I lived in Connecticut, I frequented my favorite bookstore,  R.J. Julia Booksellers. It is so much more than a place to buy books. The tall wooden bookshelves are lined with handwritten reviews on cardstock, tucked underneath many of the books.

There are two front entrances to the bookstore. One leads into the main part of the store, with a Café straight ahead. To the left of the entrance is a wooden staircase, which is lined with books. The other entrance brings one into the magazine, cookbook, animal-related and blank journal section, with an assortment of gifts displayed. This description does nothing to describe how cozy and beautiful the bookstore is inside.

This is an exterior shot of R.J. Julia Booksellers:

rj-julia-booksellers

The bookstore is in Madison, Connecticut which is on the shoreline of the Long Island Sound. Madison is my favorite Connecticut town! Often, when I go to Madison, I will drive past R.J Julia's. Not too far from the bookstore is Hammonassett Beach State Park. I spend time there, laptop computer in tow, where I sit on huge rocks and write while watching the waves crashing against the rocks.

Here is a picture that I took while sitting on one of those large rocks. After a while, I could taste salt on my lips!

Hammonnasset rocks

After spending time there, I drive to R.J. Julia Booksellers. When I am there, I choose the book I want to read, buy it, then head into the Café.

I always order the same thing: Cranberry-Walnut salad, which includes organic spring greens topped with goat cheese, cranberries, mandarin oranges and candied walnuts. With that, I drink a carbonated lemonade. I bring my meal onto the back patio, which is made of uneven bricks, surrounded by wrought iron tables and chairs. There is plenty of shade from large trees that envelop the patio. It is a beautiful setting. When I lived in Connecticut, I treated myself to this experience once a week, on Fridays. Yea, the ritual became expensive... so sometimes I bought a magazine, instead of a book.

Although R.J. Julia happens to be my FAVORITE bookstore in the United States, there is a close second. It is in the town of Hardwick, which is nestled within Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom."

The Galaxy Bookshop, an independent bookstore, is in an old bank building. The children's section of the bookstore is in the bank vault!

Galaxy Bookshop vault

The bookstore, like R.J. Julia's, is very cozy inside. The woodwork inside the store is unpainted and the windows remind me of those found in a Craftsman home. The hardwood floors throughout the store also contribute towards the cozy "at home" ambiance.

To find an independent bookstore near you, click here.

I am going to write something that you, my dear readers, may not need to know. I prefer baths... long, leisurely baths. (My bathtub is pictured below.) On those days that I don't have to hurry up and get out the door, I take my long, leisurely baths. When the water starts to cool, I let some of the water out of the tub and add more hot water. During these hour-long hot baths, I read.

My bathtub

My current bathtub read is titled,  "Vision in the Sky: New Haven's Early Years, 1638 - 1783," written by Myrna Kagan . It is actually a children's book, geared toward 10 years and up, and written for a reading audience of local New Haven school kids. It doesn't matter! It is a wonderful book and her writing style is such that I feel as if she is telling me a story ...while sitting on my couch! It is a cozy read.

Kagan refers to New Haven's streets and landmarks and writes about how they have evolved during the past 371 years. So, unless you are familiar with New Haven, you might miss part of the fascination!

I have been interested in New England Puritans for many years, but one mostly reads about the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony. So, it was intriguing to read about those who left Boston in the 1630's and migrated to New Haven to start "New Haven Colony." My hometown of Wallingford, CT was a part of New Haven Colony in those early years.

Here is an example of Kagan's relaxed writing style. In this paragraph, the author mentions my hometown:

"You might ask what, exactly, the English got in the way of land. They had bought, or practically had been given, the land that is now the towns of New Haven, East Haven, Branford, North Branford, North Haven, Wallingford, Cheshire, Hamden, Bethany, Woodbridge and Orange. Probably, you and many of your friends live in one of these towns. Wouldn't you agree that Mr. Eaton and his friends paid a very small sum for this great tract of land whose worth is so great today it cannot be calculated?" (Kagan 40-41).

Myrna Kagan can come to my house anytime to tell me stories of New England's early history. I think she is a magnificent writer! I will read more of her works.

Work Cited:

Kagan, Myrna. Vision in the Sky: New Haven's Early Years, 1638 - 1783. 2nd ed.   New Haven: Hillhouse Press, 2007. Print.

 

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804, as Nathaniel Hathorne. In 1825 or '26, he changed the spelling of his last name, by adding a "W", which his sister also began to use.

Nathaniel Hawthorne as young man

Why would he want to change the spelling of his family name? Well, he had some relatives from generations past from which he wanted to distance himself. One and a half centuries distance was not enough for Nathaniel! He changed his last name's spelling because his distance paternal grandfather, John Hathorne, was the magistrate of the court during the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690's.

John Hathorne

John caused a lot of innocent people to hang for the "crime" of witchcraft. Of course, these women (and a few men) were not witches or in a covenant with the Devil. They were victims of their environment. Superstition was a deeply held belief and the Puritanism was a covenant religion. Either you were for God, or against Him. Either you acted "Holy" and "Pure", or you were evil.

Execution of Anne HibbinsSource: http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/salem/generic.html

If you went for a walk in the woods, you were suspect. Afterall, everyone knows that the woods are the Devil's playground. If you happened to have a skin-tag (as many older people do), you were sure to be hung as a witch, for having a "witches teat"... the mark of a witch. You wouldn't stand a chance.

Rebecca Nurse's graveSource: http://s3.amazonaws.com/findagrave/photos/2001/222/nurserebecca6.jpg

Oh... to live in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600's. So, one can understand why Nathaniel added a "W" to his last name. He seemed to feel remorse for what his ancestor had done. So, Hawthorne wrote some short stories and a novel about life in Salem during the 17th century. The theme of those works centers around flawed humanity and sinful nature. Since Puritans believed that we are all born with Original Sin, a person was doomed from the start. Even the most honest person was full of sin.

This was the premise of "The Minister's Black Veil," "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Scarlet Letter." All three stories take place in Salem during the 17th century. In "TMBV", the minister wears a black veil and refuses to take it off. He is a sinner and he chooses to display his sinful nature for all to see. In "YGB," he has a crisis of faith (and a crisis in his marriage to his wife, Faith.) YGB takes a walk in the woods, which, if you remember, is the devil's playground... He is surprised to see fellow neighbors in the woods doing things that are less than holy and pure. I don't want to spoil it for you, but in the end, YGB's life is ruined because he has lost faith in humanity. He can trust no-one. Who is evil? Who is good? Is there any good to be found in human nature, or are we all just hopeless sinners?

In "The Scarlet Letter," Hester refuses to believe that the relationship (and child) she has had with Reverend Dimmesdale is something for which to be ashamed. She loves him and will not be made to feel like a heathen or an adulturer. Her loyalty to him prevents her from speaking his name to the court who demands that she reveal the name of the father of her "out-of-wedlock" child. She refuses, but one is left to wonder why Reverend Dimmesdale stood by and let her be tormented and thrown in prison for refusing to reveal his name. Was his cowardliness stronger than his love for Hester? Hawhtorne leaves the reader to guess.

Salem, MA is so well known for it's witch trial history, so its other attributes get less attention. Salem is a coastal town with a rich mariner history. Salem and Essex were  important trading ports and there is a magnificent museum devoted to the spice trading that took place there centuries ago. It is called the Essex-Peabody Museum.

If you are in New England, I encourage you to take a drive north of Boston to visit Salem. It's a walkable town with so many places to see. The houses there date back 300 years.

Source: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/snarl/files/2006/10/Salem%20MA%20October%202006%20087.jpgSource: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/snarl/files/2006/10/Salem%20MA%20October%202006%20087.jpg

It's worth a trip!