In this part of Tarrytown, you won’t find the Headless Horseman mentioned in Washington Irving’s story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In this part of Washington Irving’s story is his Sunnyside home and what an exquisite home it is. I took the kids on one weekend to this small cottage that garnered the artsy-touch of Washington Irving. The house is nestled behind some wooden area behind the gift shop. We were welcomed at the gift shop with the rest of the visitors to buy the ticket admission. Then at a certain time, a tour guide wearing a hoop skirt in small purple flowers motif, and a knitted hair cap with two long purple bows, greeted us and took us to Sunnyside. Along the path that we walked through, we passed a huge tree that is more than 300 years old. It guards the surrounding like an ancient grandfather. The short distance that we took was filled with the guide’s stories and informations, not to mention, the twittering of the birds.
The house that Washington Irving called home used to be a farmhouse owned by a Dutch-American man, that he bought in 1835. When we came upon the house, I was stunned. Sunnyside is not as sunny as I thought it would, perhaps it’s because of the wisteria vines that draped the house that Washington Irving himself chose to plant. When we came, the wisteria has already bloomed, so what we saw was more like overgrowth rather than something beautiful. The entangled, crisscrossing vines, toppled on top of another, give the house an added flair of an antique building. The influences of Dutch-Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival and Scottish Gothic, was proof of how deeply Washington Irving understood about the architecture of Sunnyside. The guide took us inside the house and we went into room by room, including Washington Irving’s study where he acknowledged as the Father of American Literature. Sunnyside is a quaint house with a beautiful view of the Hudson River, that one time noted Charles Dickens as its guest. Each corner of the house possesses its unique story just like the master of the house, the great Washington Irving.
There’s an old church that stands near our house. Its aging red bricks are showing, but they don’t seem to decrease the church grandiosity, which the cornerstone was placed in 1903. The street where we live is where the town’s old buildings located, some that were built in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. Sometimes when I walked by Saint Lawrence Church, I would stand for a while to look at its details. It’s always interesting to view a little closer at one structure that still looks strong and stand out, even though it’s been through more than a centennial of changes. One day at a laundromat across the church that I visit regularly, I thought I might as well use my time with drawing while waiting for my load to finish. I chose the old church as my object out of curiosity whether I could translate my perception of this historical building unto paper. This is it.
Some places are meant to be visited more than once. Because although they may seem the same in shapes, their surroundings may change from time to time. The first time we came to one place, we created some memories. Then when the second time came, to visit it once more, those memories might add or replace by the new ones. When I visited this historical place called OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE in 2002, in Massachusetts, with my family and a couple of friends, I never thought that I would visit it again three times. Back than, we had a lot of fun and since our children were still toddlers, the significant history and other interesting parts of this live museum, seemed didn’t matter much. We only saw the museum as a place to be, nothing more to it. It’s simply recreational. Years gone by, and my younger daughter who was 14 months-old back in 2002, was a 5th grader two years ago. She and her class planned a school trip to visit the same Old Sturbridge Village, and I was asked to chaperone them. I loved to go there again, to catch up what I missed the first time I came. This time, I joined the 5 students under my watch, to learn the same things they would learn about the stories and facts about the place and matters, and to create new memories.
When we visited Old Sturbridge Village, it was just 6 months after Hurricane Sandy wreak havoc in New England. The devastation was still present when we reached this outdoor museum. The damaged and uprooted trees were strewn about, toppled on top one another. It’s eery. That scene was a little bit different when I had another chance to chaperone, this time my youngest’ , just two weeks ago. New plants have emerged and the open space where there used to be some trees standing, were more lush with some brushes and baby trees. We were greeted by so many wildflowers that grow covering the meadows. The water was a little bit high from the big rain before and it reached parts of the dirt road. It was my third times visiting the place, and it felt like going back to a place I knew well. The three boys under my guide wandered here and there wondering about things that attracting them. They tried pumping an old water pump located in the middle of the village. It was hard and they had to be patient waiting for the water to come out. Oh, the joy they exclaimed when after a while the water sprouted out! As we took our journey further, I added another memory to the ones I’ve had before, especially since that day was my son’s birthday. He sure was a happy 10-year old all day.
Two weeks ago we visited one of the oldest town in the state, a town called Norfolk. It was established in 1758. Several old houses and buildings decorating this quite and beautiful New England town. Not to mention the lure of all the green things growing on every corner at Norfolk gave summer its real meaning. Between the Asters and the Bee Balms, the Roses and the Clematis, the hustling and bustling of every day life seemed world apart. I walked the town’s gravel road, and its green lawn. I breathed the air and absorbed its breathtaking view. In an old town like Norfolk, the reminiscence of the yesteryear of an elegant and fancy life some folks who used to live there still lingers on. So, good day to you, Norfolk! Such a pleasure place to be.
"Comes the lure of green things growing,
Comes the call of waters flowing-
And the wayfarer desire
Moves and wakes and would be going."
-Charles G.D. Roberts-