The Changing Faces of Walden: The New Visitor’s Center and More

It is 9 am when I turn into the parking lot. Although the sun is up I cannot see it and the hangover from yesterday’s rain still leaves stains on the asphalt. I am rarely here this early, unless of course it is the peak of the season, and with my winter coat, scarf and gloves, it is far from that. Yet I couldn’t resist turning onto route 126 as I am driving home from the oral surgeon. My head is crushed into my right cheek and jaw and I have become one of those contorted faces in photographs I had seen. I am still clamping down on gauze and feel like I am moving sidewards not forwards and as I walk around the cyclone fence bordering the construction area I wonder if anyone will notice. I decide to take a look at the progress with the new visitors center. For the first time I notice the wooden scaffolding which shines the color of damp in the dull morning light.

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After I take a couple of photos I turn to cross the road. The late morning commute speeds past me.

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Across the road the pond echoes the grey sky. Immediately I am captivated by the water. My head slows its sideway swim and something drops inside my belly like a stone. I stand gazing out at the water for a few minutes, drawn by the silence with which it speaks, before walking down the wide shallow stairs which lead to the middle of the stone promenade. There is a certain balance in looking at the pond from this vantage point, something I am not feeling in my body today.

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I want to stay, but despite my coat and gloves and scarf I am cold. I am probably tired too. Getting up before 7 am this morning reminds me how long it takes to get over jet lag when returning from Sydney, 16 hours ahead of Boston. And then, on top of it losing an hour to daylight saving last weekend. But I cannot leave without walking down onto the sand. It is deserted. Only a week earlier it was littered with people, some in bathing suits, some even paddling in the water. The air was 30 degrees warmer and I thought summer was approaching. Now in my winter coat I wonder. I realize nothing is constant or even predictable.

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I see a cluster of stones shimmering under the water’s surface. Something makes me walk toward them and take out my phone to take a photo. Something reminds me of Jesi. It would have been her 18th birthday next week. It is eighteen months since she passed into spirit. Not a day passes that I do not think of her.
I think of her now as I stand and walk up the beach to the steps. Away from the pond and back across the road, still steaming with morning traffic.

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