Backyard View & Labyrinth
Deirdre and I looked at a house in Garrison a couple of weeks ago that, quite literally, had too much going for it. Its bones date back to the 1880s, when it reportedly was an inn lodging folks doing business at a nearby copper mine, now long defunct. About 15 years ago, more than 2,500 square feet of space was added to it. The new area is a three-season art studio/gallery, but most of that additional space will need finishing once the art is gone. Things like wallboard, doors, ceilings, furniture and heating apparatus (oy!). There are nooks and crannies galore; it's the kind of play-pretend palace that would delight grandchildren. But we don't expect any of those for a while and Deirdre is not keen on spending the time until we do, and perhaps long after, in a state of mass construction.
Truth is, what really endeared me to the house was the roughly five acres that went with it. Most of the backyard is nestled on a hill above the Hudson near Manitou Station. There's a glorious view of the Highlands, as well as of a seasonal sliver of the river (as I admittedly already have). The present owner was married in a moss-covered grove that has seen two other weddings during her 26 years of residence (this is the sort of place that one would only consider oneself a caretaker of). There are several other compelling spots on the property, from a labyrinth the owner constructed over four months to rugged rock outcroppings to a stream to a fire pit surrounded by rocks to sit upon (and listen to drums, of course). In a clearing, I spotted a pole with cloth remnants flying in the wind and asked the owner what it signified. She said that two shamans — one Chilean and the other Lakota — had independently identified the spot as spiritual.
I'm a sucker for all this, and immediately started dreaming of ways to make it all work. Deirdre immediately -- nay, it was even before we ever set foot on the property and were just looking at the property sheet -- starting mentally listing the ways that it wouldn't work, no way, no how (though she, too, felt the pull of the land while walking it). So I'm pretty darn sure it won't happen, despite all the spirits who are agitating that it should.
Did I mention that "manitou" is an Algonquin word for spirit? Did I mention that I am fascinated by the Algonquin culture? Did I mention that the property also abuts the lower portion of the Hudson Highland State Park, which contains the Appalachian Trail, as well as severals path to Anthony's Nose, which sits on the east side of the Bear Mountain Bridge?
The Spirits Move (Some Of) Us
Here's how the property and the spirits and Anthony's Nose came together this past week. We had, earlier in the month, made a date to take an autumn hike with Bruce Bolger and Shawn Sparks. Bruce called last Friday to confirm. He said he had one of his favorite hikes in mind. Of all the hundreds of trails in the area he might have picked, what did he choose? The Appalachian Trail that runs behind the property we'd seen the week before to the Camp Smith Trail to the summit of Anthony's Nose, of course.
Those impish manitou are playing with me. But they have no idea who they're going up against in challenging the common sense of the Faire Deirdre, who this time is decidedly making sure that my body does not follow my mind, which is prone to the call of harpies and sirens and ideas that often turn out to have seemed good at the time.