The Warmth of a Village, Family & Friends

An October visit to Tarrytown inspired me to better appreciate friends and family, to wonder at the eastern forest and environs in verdant beauty and to enjoy the pre-Halloween festivities this “scary” corner of the country presents. I cannot think where else such excitement could ensue.

A local family with deep roots in the Village hosted with great aplomb.  They have been my connection to Tarrytown for many years. It was grand to see in person what I have heard about for so long. The generational family home where three generations have lived and raised their children was a delight. The old world charm of it is brought into modern comfort by the gentle hand of the hostess. The memories of each generation is preserved and enjoyed.

And the Village itself!  Everyone was kind, friendly and efficient – from the limo driver, to the Village Clerk, to the salon professionals, to the market folks, to the morning-coffee patrons, to the night-life revelers, to the people we met on the street with a smile and often a hug.

A day of sightseeing in and around Tarrytown was pristine: the swans on the lake, the stone towers with pastoral sheep in the field, the Castle and Sanctuary Spa, the Lyndhurst Mansion, the fall colors.  It was very different from my place on the high western desert.  I could not have imagined the trees. It was an historic and staid step back in time from the unsettled rough and tumble west of which I am a part.

I discovered there is no better place than Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow for celebrating Halloween. The excitement filled the air and the streets were crowded.  Everyone was waiting for the parade.  The little ones were put into costumes and the marchers assembled.  The parade lived up to the hype and we were mesmerized by the music, the dancers, the headless horseman, the giant skeleton; everyone’s role played out flawlessly. Everyone dressed in costume, cheering wildly, lining the street! It was so much fun!

My darling niece and family, Daniela and Brandon, moved from New York City to Tarrytown last August as you may have read in this paper’s last issue. Living in Tarrytown has enlivened them and they take advantage of parks and time to play. A generous couple bought their dinner at a Thai restaurant this fall.  Who does such a random act of kindness? Folks in Tarrytown, obviously.  This generosity was further demonstrated when the great folks at the TaSH Farmers Market found my lost driver’s license and mailed it to me in Salt Lake City.  Daniela and Brandon have two darling boys and these grandchildren, of course, encourage my sister, Nona LeeDell, to visit from Italy where she and husband Nono Art live on a hilltop above Vicenza, a beautiful city in the north, and are retired from military service. My sister is a soulful person who speaks the truth and assists all of us towards enlightenment. Dr. Art is a pediatrician, which is helpful.  It is essential and inspiring to visit with my sister when she arrives in this country.  And so it was that I ventured to Tarrytown to meet the grand nephews, visit my niece, spend time with my sister and stay with close friends – a perfect opportunity all around.

To be with loved ones puts the world in perspective.  A little love goes a long way.  It will be months, maybe even years, before the stars align like this again and I will be able to hold all of these dear folks close at once.

The earth wheel takes a serious turn in November as we celebrate the loved ones we have and the loved ones we have lost.  As the days grow colder and shorter we value the warmth of those near to us and the love we know is held by friends and relatives far away.  The intrinsic pull of sadness reminds of those who have slipped away in other Novembers.  A charming father had to leave three beautiful teenage children when living became impossible. He made us laugh; he made us cry. We will never forget.  We have never stopped asking why.  I have never stopped wishing. Years later after teaching, supporting, guiding us along a new path of wonder and excitement, a respected second father also left too soon. We sat by his bed, read poems, told stories, waited out the brain tumor. Were we better prepared for this love dying? Prepared to cry? To say goodbye? A part of us has accompanied each one.  And then this November took my loving little brown dog – my friend and companion, my unconditional love, my heart’s heart. Will the November markers never end…

As a friend, Vesta Crawford, penned:

And I shall walk alone where leaves are tossed

In gray forgotten windrows at my feet,

For all the autumns of the world are lost

And brushed once more along the shadowed street.

The turning of the year will come tonight

In silence and webs of drifted white.

I shall accept a solitude so deep

My heart shall be as stark as poplar boughs that sleep.

Well, for a while, at least. We come alone. We leave alone and our loneliness will surface again in sleepless nights and quotidian days.

But with December will come Christmas and the tinsel will shine and children’s eyes will sparkle.  The trees will bring light and gifts will pass along happiness.  We will serve those less fortunate.  The sun will turn and start back to lengthen the days and warm the soil.  There will be New Year’s Eve parties and champagne and resolutions and a yearning for spring.  Hope will press forward once again and love will triumph.  We will cling to those around us, renewing vows, reaching out to friends, embracing family.

All is not lost and the human spirit will touch our hearts. We will laugh and live and love.

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About the Author: Jacquita W. Christensen