I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land…
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I’ve always made my way down to the rivers. Even now as I sit on my back porch, I hear the rush of the Assabet a half mile to the north, already filled with an early and surprising winter melt. Any leaf of me could fall and be carried back to the fork of the Sudbury and Concord rivers. My whole life has been a continual returning to these three rivers and my common ground—the water, fields, woods and village of Concord and now, just to the west, the small mill town of Maynard.
More and more I remember less and less, but there are still granite walls that will not change for another thousand years and still a few hills to defy development; still a few farmstands with the same trucks and tractors parked by weathered sheds, and still a few cantankerous old souls hiding their smiles behind seventy or eighty New England winters. I wonder if they remember the kid who worked for them so long ago? I wonder what they remember? I wonder what they wish they’d kept?
This collection is my way of keeping what I remember. Musketaquid is the native name for the Concord River. Someone once told me that it meant “slow moving river.” It seemed like a fine and apt name to me, so much so that it didn’t bother me to discover the actual translation is “grass grown river.” The fields are now all wooded over—a bramble of Hawthorne and Swamp Maple hiding almost every view; but it still a slow moving river—and always will be. Even the Nipmucks would have to agree with that.
These songs, poems and ramblings are what I have to add to the rivers. They are the small streams of my experience becoming a smaller part of the Musketaquid, which, hopefully, flows into some greater sea of understanding and insight. They are the good, the bad, and the ugly drafts of my life scattered in here with the randomness of the winds and tides that have driven me and carried me to so many shores—and have always brought me home.
These are the poems, stories, rambles, and reflections that have been written over a long run of time, usually close to home, but often in far off places, and sometimes simply as conversations with my students, friends, or family, but always within dreamshot of the beautiful, beautiful rivers that ramble through my home.
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy some part of what is here.