Tracking the future

So what’s with the banner picture at the top of this blog? On the back of the snapshot, it reads: “Walden, MA, 1979.” There is no Walden, MA, though I’m sure the Henry David Thoreau devotees that infest the town of Concord would have loved it if the town had been renamed accordingly. But in 1979, I — perhaps I should take this opportunity to introduce myself, Belle Songer — didn’t know any better. I was touring literary New England with my friend Gary. On our travels to this landmark of American letters, we naturally visited and circumnavigated Walden Pond. We found the stone stumps that are supposed to outline Thoreau’s cabin in the woods at the back edge of the pond, where he purportedly gave America its first literary frontiersman (who later would be revealed to have taken his laundry home to his mother, like any college kid pretending to be a freewheeling, independent operator). To say the least, this shrine, unlike Robert Frost’s home for instance, was disappointing. So we struck off into the woods, following a path away from that pile of salutary rocks. It didn’t go very far — a kind of hapless metaphor for Thoreau’s own adventure — just to the fence on the back perimeter of the state park, and there we found these railroad tracks. Railroads figure largely in my family story — a tale for another time — so I could not resist the opportunity to reenact the scene from the old Bullwinkle cartoon series. Little did I know, when I stretched out across the rails that autumn day in 1979, that the Fitchburg commuter line, on which I rested my head and my feet, giving an enthusiastic thumb’s up, would one day become my homeboy rail line. Several times over the course of my life, I have experienced previews of coming attractions: visited my future, so to speak. And this was one such occasion. Horsing around that day as Dudley Do-right’s dumb blonde girlfriend Nell, I couldn’t possibly have known I would meet a man from Concord 21 years later, marry him and travel these very tracks in and out of Boston or Cambridge for the rest of my life.

Moral: One’s future is always at hand, you just have to keep your eyes peeled.

— Belle Songer

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