Arts & Culture

“Wherein I Accidentally Sit on Henry David Thoreau’s Dad” By Peri Fae Blomquist

An Update on the Life of Peri Fae Blomquist.


Like, almost a year. How good am I at this blog thing? So good.

I was going to do this whole long philosophical post talking about the changes in my life and the nature of human creativity and where the heck I’ve been all this time, but instead, I’m going to tell a small story about embarrassing myself in public again and summarize all the rest.

Summary: Where have I been? I’ve been laid off. I’ve been temping around. I’ve been finding employment. I’ve been flipping tables and shouting in the streets over the political situation. I’ve been writing. (I’m always writing.)

Where am I now? I am here! On my couch and nursing a small bruise on my tailbone. I’m also working part-time and writing part-time (a recent experiment which I’m still getting used to.) My boyfriend and I have the financial wiggle room to let me spend a few days a week just writing, thus giving me the space to improve and fail as many times as I need for a while, so we’re trying that out. It’s great. It’s also hella stressful because now suddenly there’s this onus on my writing that didn’t exist before. Imposter syndrome is my new roommate in a big way. He sucks, by the way, he doesn’t even do the dishes.

But we’re not here to talk about him. We’re here to talk about my butt.

So my buddy Phil (whom you may remember from previous posts written back in the Mesozoic era as Philtog the photographer) and I took a little trip out to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA this past weekend. We took this trip because my favorite holiday, Halloween, is almost upon us and that means I’ve been spending most of September and October pestering my friends to do spooky things with me. Like sally off on graveyard adventures for spooky photos.

Sleepy Hollow is a picturesque little collection of headstones, established in 1855. It’s relatively small, considering the scope of other historical New England graveyards, and doesn’t look like much from a drive by. However, if you follow the narrow, winding road to the back lot, it boasts the burial places of writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.

And Henry David Thoreau, obviously.


Photo by Peri Fae Blomquist.

There’s the scamp.

It’s tradition for writers who come to visit to leave pencils or little knickknacks on his grave. Hawthorne and Emerson both rest behind (admittedly not very imposing) fences made of a single chain strung through stone posts. Emerson’s grave is this huge, white quartz thing, and the others are all very respectable records in stone with RIP’s and dates and the usual etcetera.

Henry’s is right off the path in his family plot among a tangle of tree roots. No fence. Barely taller than a No. 2 pencil. His family members have stones very much the same. And there’s something humbling about getting to the plot and finding out that this great American mind is sleeping under a marker barely big enough to hold his first name.

You could sit down with him among the roots, while pine needles and leaves fall into your hair. You could contemplate the inevitability of mortality and the impermanence of human legacy. You could count the pencils who came before you and wonder what they made of this unassuming stone.

If you’re me from another dimension you might think on the parallels in your own life, since you’re trying hard to be a writer and pomp and circumstance are guaranteed to no one.

Or you could do what me from this reality did, and sink awkwardly down into a kind of deep, yogic squat–because it rained earlier and the ground is wet and these are your new jeans you’re not gonna sit on the dirt–and then lean forward until your head is between your trembling knees and kink your neck into an impossible angle until you look, very probably, like a rather twisted turtle, in an effort to take a decent picture.

And then you might periodically scuttle back a few inches at a time because you’re using a prime lens, which means no zoom in or zoom out. And then you might scuttle-trip over one of those itty bitty tree roots that become much more significant when you’re that close to the ground, and slam your tailbone back into something very hard. 

You might assume it’s just a tree and snap “OW! That’s my friggin’ butt!” in a very accusing tone.

You might discover when you turn around, that it’s not a tree at all, but another little gravestone in the family plot. You might feel bad because while there’s no social code for snapping at trees in public, it’s really very impolite to snap at gravestones. So you reach behind yourself and give the stone a little apologetic pat and say, “Oh, so sorry. Excuse me, sir.”

At which point you might look up, and realize there’s a family of six standing right over you looking horrified. They’ve just climbed the hill in the hopes of spending a few reverent moments at the grave of a literary genius, and instead have found you, in a turtle squat, with daddy Thoreau squeezed between your butt cheeks.

“That’s his dad!” Says Dad of the family of six who now probably qualify as witnesses under the law. The three children are staring at you in alarm.

“Sorry daddy!” You say, in what is possibly the only phrase that could make the situation more awkward. You hastily unfold your stiff limbs into the semblance of a human shape and quickly shamble away into the trees like a geriatric cryptid who can’t feel her ass.

At that point, your little cemetery adventure is over. Yep, it died in the forbidden valley of your butt; time to go home. Phil is looking at you with that expression that says “Why do you always do this to us?”

You’ll have to make do with whatever imperfect shots you managed to take before you inadvertently sat on the headstone of a famous American writer’s progenitor.


Photo by Peri Fae Blomquist.

zigzag stairs

Photo by Peri Fae Blomquist.

That’s all for now!

May the autofocus be with you.

This post was originally featured at

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