Monday, October 29, 2012

Exploring Sleepy Hollow, Sunday afternoon

  My first morning in the Sleepy Hollow area began by searching for somewhere to go for a run. Staying across the Hudson, just on the other side of the Tappan Zee Bridge, I found myself at a hotel in a section of Nyack, New York, that was conveniently located exactly at a thruway exit,  but in an area void of any proper sidewalks. I ran up one street, and the sidewalk ended. I ran along another, and in passing wished there were a cemetery somewhere nearby where I could run, as I do in Forest Lawn when I am at home. I ran not twenty seconds down another block, turned a bend-- and an enormous cemetery, set on a large hill, appeared before me. The gates were open, and I would find that the sprawling graveyard spanning the hill was more than large enough to run in, and had graves going back to the very early 1880's, at least. There was even an old plot for a family by the name of "Crane." At the very top of the cemetery, having ran up the hill, you can see over the Hudson River, to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. 

 I was excited to head back over the bridge, pass through Tarrytown, and be in Sleepy Hollow, again. The plan was to wander around the village, see any sights there may be to see, and head to the cemetery. The night before, from what I could see of the cemetery from the Old Dutch Church, I thought I knew how big-- or, rather, small-- it actually was. The lantern tour was not until seven in the evening; I thought that after looking around the village, I could see what the full cemetery was like, and take it all in prior to the tour. 

 My first thoughts seeing the Hollow in daylight were, still, that the Horseman was everywhere. From the street signs, to the village hall-- to restaurants, the post office and fire department-- either he was there on horseback, or he was chasing poor, terrified Ichabod. It was also quietly amazing, pleasantly surprising how much the village, in 2012, feels like the opening lines of Irving's story. In my head, walking the streets, I heard the words "Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail, or tapping of a woodpecker, is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity."

The weather was calm. Even the wind was quiet-- and the dropping rain, sparing but ever present. The leaves continued to drift down from the trees, falling to pave the streets. There are several streets intersecting with the main road in the village, and the shops, stores, homes, restaurants and the like did not seem big, did not seem small-- just quiet. Very sleepy. "A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere." I could hear Irving's words very clearly. 

As I headed closer to the bridge, the church and the churchyard, I began to completely understand the influence a place like this can have, the spirit which makes tales such as the Horseman possible. "A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his pow-wows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson." 

 In the daylight, it struck me how clear you can see Ichabod's path. Walking up the street, you see the bridge, the church and churchyard all in succession-- and, now, you even see a statue of the Horseman's chase, as if Ichabod will eternally be riding that way, for the bridge he will never reach. I imagine Washington Irving wouldn't be able to help being proud, if he were able to come back (from the churchyard) to the Hollow today-- and see that the legend he penned to paper has taken on such an immortal life, it nows stands literally in the spot which the fiction took place. It is an awesome thing, an aweseome feeling. 

 Finally, I came to the church again. The plan was to explore the cemetery on my own, in the daylight, in preparation for the tour. Before passing through the gates, I  met the tent sent up by the Old Dutch Church to sell souveniors and the like. Incredibly charming people, with wares that many of which were nicer and more interesting the the gift shop by the Horseman's Hollow I'd been to the night before. I bought their book on the cemetery, among other things-- and headed off to walk among Sleepy Hollow's graves. 
The street, the bridge, the church and churchyard- with the statue far right.

My full album of the afternoon (before the cemetery) here:


  1. That looks like such an amazing time, I love all the pics!

    Mal @ The Chic Geek

  2. Mal: I'm glad you enjoy the photos! It was an amazing time- I am in the process of uploading all my photos from the cemetery (day and night) and will be able to post them as soon as they are organized enought!