One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Magic of the Freedom Trail, a Run and a 10 Year Old Kid

I was recently in Charlestown, MA to visit my brand new nephew. I could write a whole blog post on brand new nephews—the way they smell like something warm and sweet just coming out of the oven, the way they feel like wet paint on a canvas all new and full of possibility, I could go on and on—but I will spare you all.

However, I will state here that it is probably partially because I was in new-nephew la-la-land that Charlestown and, particularly the Freedom Trail, felt so magical to me. Like everything else in this life, it matters who you are with and what state of mind you are in when you do just about anything. This is a great thing. It means we are all connected, it means all of our experiences and actions and reactions are connected, and this means that there is potential for magic and miracle in just about any moment.

But back to Charlestown and my magical run…

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red brick walking trail that leads to sixteen different nationally historic sites, all of which center around the American Revolution. My brother and his family live literally down the block from the Bunker Hill Monument, which is one of the start places for the trail, so when I asked my sister-in-law where I should take my usual weekend run, she suggested walking up the hill and beginning right there, at the monument.

It sounded good to me. So I woke up Sunday morning to the sun streaming into the house and happily got ready for my run. I love exploring new places on foot. Especially on fast foot. I love running in strange and different places. New perspective and all that. I was just about ready to go when my Biggest—my 10 year old son—woke up. So, okay, I already knew something magical was afoot. He never wakes up early on the weekend. He is 10-going-on-teen, after all. But for whatever reason—perhaps it was the sun, perhaps it was the strange and different bed perspective shift—he got up and wanted to join me.

So we climbed the hill and then climbed the steps to the base of the monument and began our run.

It was instantly incredibly fun! I mean, we were following a red brick trail after all! We felt like some New England version of Dorothy and her crew!

We began at… the Bunker Hill Monument—where the Battle at Bunker Hill proved that the Colonial Army could effectively fight the British…

...we ran through Charlestown, over the Charlestown Bridge into the North End, past Copp’s Hill Burying Ground—which is a kind of cemetery for North End artisans, crafts people and merchants. Buried there is Old North Church sexton Robert Newman who supposedly hung the lanterns on the night of Paul Revere’s ride, as well as 1000 free African-Americans who lived in a community on the current Charter Street side of the cemetery…

...past the Old North Church—where Robert Newman climbed the steps to the steeple to hang the two lanterns (as in one if by land, two if by sea…)

...and then finally past Paul Revere’s House.

Running past these places—these places laden with history and story and different versions of that story—made me feel very much alive. And, yes, connected. I am beginning to realize that, for me, connected and alive are very much the same thing.

But even better… not long into the run, my son got all excited. “Mom,” he said—much less out of breath than me, by the way—“I just read about this! I just read about the Freedom Trail!” And he proceeded to tell me all about How I, Nicky Flynn, Got a Life, a middle grade book by Art Corriveau.

So let me amend the previous paragraph.

Running past these places laden with story, while discussing literature with my son—this made me feel deliciously, cozily, magically alive.

My Littlest with the Brand New Nephew
And I had the brand new nephew waiting for me when I got back.

I’m not sure it gets any better than that.



  1. Love this - thinking of all the history in this place being treasured by a boy and Mom running together and a baby to be celebrated... and really, what matters most? All connected,absolutely!

  2. Oh! You just brought back some wonderful memories for me - walking the Freedom Trail with my husband and then very young daughter. Congratulations on your new nephew!

  3. Tam's Little BroNovember 5, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    I'm glad we could provide the landscape for this awesome experience! It was such a blast having you guys for the so-called visit, need another one soon...