Destination: Sleepy Hollow

When the pumpkins begin to grow ripe on the vine, my thoughts always turn to my favorite spooky story since childhood, Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I’ve always wanted to visit Sleepy Hollow and walk across that famous bridge, and this past weekend, I got my chance!

The tale was first published in 1820, and begins in Tarrytown, New York, on the banks of the Hudson river. Sleepy Hollow is a quiet glen a few miles away. Tarrytown most definitely exists, and North Tarrytown was officially renamed Sleepy Hollow in 1996. Here you will find all the famous sites, such as the cemetery where the Headless Horseman is said to materialize.

I love the graphics on top of this historical sign…

The churchyard is part of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, which was constructed in the 17th century. Featured in Irving’s short story, it’s one of the of the oldest churches in New York State.

From the church, we headed down to the FAMOUS BRIDGE. Which, as it turns out, is the “is the most popular destination in Sleepy Hollow that doesn’t exist.” Because the simple 1700s wooden bridge that inspired Irving has long since disintegrated (you can read a little more bridge history here).

The bridge is located in a pretty major intersection with a gas station nearby. So it’s almost a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it historical literary moment. Here’s the bridge as it stands today…

And here’s a postcard image of the historic bridge! With the logs, the stonework, and the silken water…you can absolutely imagine being clocked by a pumpkin at a ghostly hour.

Not far from the bridge is the town’s official statue, depicting Ichabod’s fatal race home. This was a bit of a surprise too. I expected something more traditional. But I like the metal layers on this interpretation – they’re almost like a paper cut silhouettes. Unveiled Halloween 2006, the statue was designed by artist Linda Perlmutter, and fabricated by MILGO/BUFKIN.

The Sleepy Hollow cemetery, church, bridge, and statue are all across the street from the Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills, which is a restored 18th century living-history museum (you can read more here). It’s currently closed for restoration work.

We also got an unexpected surprise at the nearby Philipse Manor train station, which operates on the Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line. The station’s pedestrian bridge had really cool stained glass windows…

And check out the VIEW of the Hudson River on the other side!

I also recommend heading to Patriot Park, which is on the border of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. It boasts stone bridges, staircases, and water. And plenty of green space to run around on!

At this point, we were getting hungry, so we headed over to Tarrytown for some bites. Main Street was charming, walk-able, and there were plenty of eateries to chose from.

One other building of note is the historic Tarrytown Music Hall, a 136 year-old historic theater. Supposedly haunted, and yes, they DO have ghost tours. And yes, I’m definitely kicking myself for not thinking of buying tickets in advance of my trip!

The sun was starting to set as we headed back to New Jersey with haunted places still on our minds. This Halloween, when I revisit Irving’s tale, I’ll actually be able to say that I’ve walked through the cemetery, stood next to the church, and crossed the bridge! How awesome is that?

Bad to the Bard

bad to the bard 5Prepare to “Insult, exult, and all at once” (As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 5). Because today we’re reviewing the epic Shakespeare Insult Generator from Becker & Mayer! Wither you stub your toe on a rock, or are trading barbs with your bitter rival…if your situation requires a fiery oath or stinging retort, you are in good hands with the Bard!

Retailing for around $9 on Amazon, this little spiral-bound volumes includes 162 Shakespearean words. The pages are divided into three sections (the top and middle sections are adjectives, the bottom section is a noun). The sections can be quickly flipped  to create 150,000 original insults.

The cool thing is when you flip each section, the word is defined on the back. So if you are wondering what a “scut” is, it’s actually “the short, erect tail of a deer.”

In addition to being visually pleasing, the book comes with a fascinating and humorous introduction. Among other things, you learn that words marked with a feather icon means they were most likely invented by Shakespeare. Words marked with an “N” are ones he only used once (also referred to as “nonce” words). As you can see in the above photo, all three words are nonce. Amazingly, of the 162 words in the book, 22% were invented by Shakespeare, and 64% are nonce! That’s some amazing word-smithery, that is.

In addition to being educational, this book is FUN. The insults are quite creative and quite satisfying to select. In fact, we recommend buying two books so opponents can pair off and parry insults back and forth from stage right and left! Highly recommend.

Lovely Loons

Is there anything more beautiful then the sound of a loon calling? How about the fact that they carry their chicks on their backs when the little ones need a rest? Katie captured the loon love in this simple story time project AND provided the extra bonus at the end of the post!

We recommend reading Little Loon and Papa, written by Toni Buzzeo, and illustrated by Margaret Spengler (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2004 – read aloud here by Hannibal Ferret Story Books). Papa Loon is trying to teach reluctant Little Loon how to dive under the water. When Papa disappears below the water’s surface, Little Loon swim away and gets lost. After bumping into several different animals, Little Loon hears Papa’s call and summons the courage to dive and reunite with his dad!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small tissue box
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Black, white, and brown paper
  • Scissors, glue or tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Common loons are easily recognizable by the unique markings on their feathers and their striking red eyes. They also have extremely identifiable calls, which you can often hear as background outdoor sound bites in TV shows and movies. And as you see here, adult loons will carry their young chicks on their backs to give the babies a break from swimming or to protect them from predators. Just AWWWWW!

Image courtesy of Wikicommons

To make the adult loon, cut a small tissue box down to approximately 1.5″ tall. Cover the box and a toilet paper tube with black paper. Snip 1/4″ slits into the sides of of the toilet paper tube, then slide it onto the box. For the feathers, you can use patterned and silver markers like Katie did, or just go with white paper. The beak is construction paper, as are the eyes (which you should definitely color in red!). The black pompom for the top of the head is optional.

mama loon_3

To make the loon chicks, cut a toilet paper tube in half, then wrap each section with brown paper. Add paper wings, beaks, and eyes – or simply use markers to add these features. Feather crests are an option as well! Place the finished chicks onto the back of the adult loon, and marvel in the cuteness!

baby loons_3

The inspiration for this project was an actual pair of loons, lovingly nicknamed Benny and Joon, who reside together on a lake in northern Wisconsin. Katie and her extended family vacationed on the lake this summer, and were treated to daily visits and concerts by Benny and Joon. Listening to the haunting call of the loons was one of the highlights of their trip, along with tubing, waterskiing and catching plenty of fish!

Ready for 30 seconds of total relaxation with Benny, Joon, and gentle, lapping water?