The beauteous Valley of the Hudson River, with a brief digression on the subject of chicken love

August 19, 2008 at 10:31 pm (Art, books, Travel)

I’m not sure whether I’ve read this novella before, but I knew I wanted to take it with me on our trip to the Hudson River Valley. We visited this region five years ago and knew we wanted to return. We were going to be nearby, anyway, attending a reception and luncheon being given for the newlyweds.

Okay – any excuse to post a picture of these two splendid people will do, I admit it! Now – where was I…

Oh yes! the beautiful Hudson River Valley.

On our last visit, we stayed in the eastern side of the river, the better to visit some of the famous estates there. Of course went to Hyde Park and the Vanderbilt mansion. Both were fascinating, but we particularly liked Boscobel, a jewel of a place with a spectacular setting.


In preparing for this first excursion to the area, we’d been reading about a newly opened art museum south of Rhinebeck, where we would be staying. Dia Beacon had only been open for a couple of months when we went to see it, but the word was already out. The day was lovely; a festive mood prevailed.

Dia Beacon’s collection is housed in a disused factory built in 1929 for Nabisco. It has a great location – right on the river. The art itself is modern and in many instances, outsized. It tests what you define as art, but wherever you come down regarding that issue, the experience of being there was uncommonly exhilarating.

Here are some of the artists whose work is currently housed at Dia Beacon:

Bernd and Hilla Bacher

**********************************  Louse Bourgeois

John Chamberlain

*********************************** Richard Serra

Michael Heizer


On this recent trip, we stayed on the western side of the Hudson, in a lovely bed and breakfast in the village of Cornwall.

Our chief sightseeing activity consisted of a tour of West Point, which was only about a fifteen minute drive from the Inn. This  was something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do, but it proved  very worthwhile. West Point has a beautiful campus and a fascinating history. Many notable Americans have resided and/or matriculated there since the founding of the Academy in 1802. Check out this exhaustive list of graduates on Wickipedia. And while you’re at it, take a look at the list of those who enrolled but never graduated. Some of the names will surprise you!

Neither Ron nor I come from military families, but we now feel connected to the traditions of this proud institution.

Meanwhile, back at the Inn, we discovered that we were next door to a farm. This being the case, we thought it only polite to stroll over and make the acquaintance of the local poultry.

We immediately bonded with these comely creatures. In fact, the rooster hopped up on a fence and did the cock-a-doodle-do bit right in our faces – not once but twice! One felt very welcome indeed.

I was reminded of a chapter in Haven Kimmel’s delightful memoir A Girl Named Zippy in which she sings a hymn of praise to her pet chicken Speckles, and to chicken love in general – an emotion, she assures us, that can only be appreciated by initiates like herself.

(I was likewise put in mind of Any Duncan’s wildly inventive story “Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse.”)

Meanwhile, there’s more to come on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

1 Comment

  1. “In vain, yes, in vain did I struggle–” - The Pale Blue Eye, by Louis Bayard « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] to read Louis Bayard’s book since it came out two years ago. Spending time recently in the Hudson River Valley, in the vicinity of West Point, made me want to read it […]

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