Hartwell’s Tavern on Battle Road in Lexington is a time capsule just a stones throw from where I grew up. It wasn't pivotal to the start of the Revolution, but walking around it the other day, removing snow from my caked boots on what could have been an original boot scrape, I was in a different world.
This part of the Battle Road has been preserved, and there isn't a modern building or car in sight. You can walk along the road lined with large trees and stonewalls as it might have been 230 odd years ago. Just west of the Tavern is the Bloody Angle, I learned. It was a sharp bend in the road which enabled the hidden Colonists to inflict some of the worst casualties on the British along their drive westward. This is the road that the Red Coats took on the famous march, first west to the 'rude bridge' in Concord where 'the shot heard round the world' was fired, and then they covered in retreat back to Boston Harbor, in shock.
Years ago, as a young adult I shivered in the pre-dawn darkness, half awake, huddled around Lexington Common with the silent crowd of thousands to watch the re-enactment. Never a morning person, I was skeptical, but I felt surprisingly powerful emotions, pride yes, but more, grief at the loss of life-and all the lives that came after. Watching the struggles and fears, and wondering what each man and woman represented there had truly felt that day was intense. The re-enactment closed with the reading of the names of those first brave men who died, and in the rising light of our April day, we left deeply grateful and transported. Reverently shuffling, still quiet, off to car, coffee, work and life. But that long ago April 18th had come alive to us just for a bit.
Experiences like that intense one, or simply discovering Hartwell's Tavern on a walk, have taught my restless soul an important lesson. Travel is not always about geography, and meaningful personal exploration does not always require a passport, or event travel.
The other day, I was purely avoiding holiday shopping mayhem, but I fell down a rabbit hole into 1775. No passport or plane can achieve that, and two hours later I was home, happily eating Thanksgiving leftovers with the pup snoring at my feet.