Greeting cards, fortune cookies and the inside of Dove chocolate wrappers are always telling us that it’s the simple joys that make life worth living, so is there a better way to spend a summer evening than by having a picnic in a beautiful place with dear friends? The answer, obviously, is no (especially if there are chocolate chip cookies involved).
Idyllic picnics like this are a long standing Interpreter tradition and we know the perfect place: the top of a hill, overlooking the ocean, with trees, grass and an August evening breeze. Along with the chocolate chip cookies, we invite all our friends to join:
Oh, did I forget to mention that the aforementioned hill is actually Burial Hill in downtown Plymouth, site of the Pilgrims’ first fort and now also a cemetery featuring graves and monuments dedicated to some of New Plimoth’s most famous families, like the Howlands, Cushmans and Allertons? Oh, and that the Bradfords and Reverend Bugbee are well, dead?
No? Silly me.
the one of the problems with being a Pilgrim: if you’re not careful, the time/ space continuum can sort of cease to exist. From 9-5 “now” is the 17th century, and in behavior that would otherwise get you thrown in the loony bin, working at Plimoth Plantation requires one to say daily that they are in fact a person who has been dead for roughly 400 years. It’s really not so weird then that when Interpreters get together after work they don’t mind doing it in a place where the living, the dead, and different centuries collide.
Well okay, maybe it is weird (Even weirder when some museum visitors who you just talked to an hour or so earlier while in costume happen upon you and recognize you. But I mean, that’s a job hazard everyone has, right?).
And lest you think I am being cavalier with flippant talk of graves and long dead New Plimoth residents, I assure you it is quite the opposite. It’s sometimes easy to forget when you are merely a 9-5 Pilgrim that the people we say we are while at work were once real, living, breathing people. There’s no better way to remind yourself that they were flesh and blood than by visiting their final resting places and sharing some good company and chocolate chip cookies with Governor Bradford (He’d probably hate all that mirth, but at least we weren’t playing stool ball on Christmas). So this Interpreter tradition of having picnics on Burial Hill is not just dinner; it’s dinner with friends. Even if some of them are dead.
But before you believe we’re all philosophical pondering and deep thoughts here at Plimoth Plantation, I’d like to remind you that we still know how to have – morbid? – fun. This is pretty clearly proved by the following photograph:
Because if you can’t jokingly play dead in a cemetery where the dead people you make your living pretending to be are buried, what kind of person are you? Having a job where you have to constantly claim you are a person who has been dead for 4 centuries is sort of like being Tom Sawyer: if you’re going to have to attend your own funeral every day, you should at least make the most of it.
Seriously though, if you’re in Plymouth and cemeteries don’t give you the heebee-jeebees, a visit to Burial Hill is well worth your time – its one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in town. Trust me, I’m a Pilgrim.