Thursday, September 29, 2011

Washington Irving

I'm not sure if it's because we have both spent many happy years in Sleepy Hollow, NY or it is our mutual love of mystery, but I have always felt a kinship with the late Washington Irving. Unlike the damp, heavy home's of other great writers of his time, Sunnyside in Tarrytown, NY is filled with light and is noted to have been the hub for unlimited joyful gatherings. The walls hold the memory of Mr. Irving's spirit and the grounds overflow with lilacs in the spring and in the autumn, red and orange maples. Washington Irving was by no means a tortured artist but simply an artist who was able to write about fantasy and out of the box folklore. I admire his courage to write a timeless legend and to question many of the Puritan beliefs which still took precedent during the time in which when he wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
You can tell when you visit the grounds at Sunnyside (where he spent many of his years along the Hudson river), that Mr. Irving was a genuinely happy man with a creative gift. Every October I make it a point to visit Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown and pay his old stomping grounds a special visit. I thank him for his legends, for Ichabod and Rip Van Winkle and the magic folklore which managed to canonize the glorious Hudson Valley.
Cheers to you Washington Irving!

"Local tales and superstitions thrive best in these sheltered, long settled retreats; but are trampled under foot, by the shifting throng that forms the population of most of our country places. Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for they have scarce had time to finish their first nap, and turn themselves in their graves, before their surviving friends have traveled away from the neighborhood, so that when they turn out of a night to walk the rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our long established Dutch communities.." - excerpt from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

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