It was right on schedule, just past midnight. The thunder rumbled and roared. A bright flash of lightning and the tap, tap, tapping of the rain on the roof. This weather pattern will remain in place through the week and maybe the weekend or clear up. I’m sure it is all subject to change.
The thunder is still grumbling and rumbling. The rain has stopped and I’m not near a window to see the lightning. That’s fine with me. It gives me some mood music to write this blog during the wee morning hours.
I was thinking of writing about Halloween, but I may table that for closer to the actual day. I don’t want to freak myself out so I’ll write something positive and uplifting.
Wow! I just wrote the above sentence and now all I can think about is Halloween.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving is my very favorite Halloween-type story. I remember when I first read the opening paragraphs, I absolutely couldn’t make sense out of it. But now, I find it quite quaint and an apt description:
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Found Among The Papers of the Late Diedrich Knickerbocker
A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
For ever flushing round a summer sky.
Castle of Indolence.
“IN the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail, and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market-town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail, or tapping of a woodpecker, is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.
“I recollect that, when a stripling, my first exploit in squirrel-shooting was in a grove of tall walnut-trees that shades one side of the valley. I had wandered into it at noon time, when all nature is peculiarly quiet, and was startled by the roar of my own gun, as it broke the Sabbath stillness around, and was prolonged and reverberated by the angry echoes. If ever I should wish for a retreat, whither I might steal from the world and its distractions, and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this little valley.
“From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his pow-wows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions; and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole nine fold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.
“The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war; and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before daybreak.
“Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the spectre is known, at all the country firesides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.”
The story does continue in this descriptive manner of the region and the superstitions of the townsfolk . . . and given the region’s haunting history . . . the perfect setting for a legend centered around the likes of the new schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane.
Yes, this legend has been a “must read” every Halloween evening, after the trick-or-treating crowd have all gone home. It is interesting to leave the porch light on and see at what point in the story, a strangling trick-or-treater rings the doorbell and has me jumping out of my skin.
If you haven’t read the legend, I highly recommend you do. Or get the audio version of the story. It is worthwhile to hear it in the original grammar of the time it was written. I don’t know if a modern version would do it justice.
It does make me wonder if this was an original urban legend or if it came about completely from the imagination of Washington Irving.
This is a haunting tale that has been used in several movies and remakes. Everyone seems to be aware of the Headless Horseman, but I don’t know if they associate it with Sleepy Hollow. Or are aware of Washington Irving’s legend.
I don’t remember reading it as a school assignment. It was a book we had at home. I had asked about it when I was in elementary school. I struggled with the wording and couldn’t wrap my mind around it. My father took pity on me, read it aloud and stopped regularly to explain it.
It became my all-time favorite. Every year I’d take the book off the shelf and read it. Each reading became clearer and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I’m sure I wrote a book report on it, more than once through my elementary years. The report wasn’t a carbon copy of the previous one, because each year as I became more familiar with the book and the characters I was able to write a more elaborate report. Also, it was good I did change schools several times . . . so no one seemed to be the wiser that I had this one book in my book report stash.
Aw, come on! I’m sure you did the same thing!!
I read several books during the summer. It was surprising that no matter what school I attended in California, every teacher seemed to hand out the same summer reading list. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it didn’t come from the librarian or a magazine listing books that were appropriate at different age levels.
It seemed one of the first things we did wherever we moved was to get a library card from the local library. I remember one place had a book mobile that would regularly park a couple of blocks away. The whole neighborhood, parents with their kids, would stroll on over to the book mobile. I remember waiting outside for a family to check out their books and leave the bus before we could go inside and browse the shelves.
It was a sad day when several libraries were shutting down due to budget cuts.
The children here are very fortunate to have a privately funded library with a regular children’s story time. It’s good for the children to get in the habit of reading early and for parents to read stories to their children regularly. It’s always nice to have a book to read.
I didn’t think it would happen to me, but I love my Kindle. I know many people like the feel and the smell of a real hardback or even paperback book. What I love about my Kindle is that I don’t have to worry about book shelf space. I’ve been able to get many of them free and also as low as $.99 or even for a couple of dollars. It is a great savings. And the absolute best part is that I don’t have to wait for delivery. It is automatically put in my Kindle. Is that amazing or what!! The same is true of movies, but that works with other companies, too. We are definitely spoiled by getting what we want immediately on out gadgets without leaving the comfort of our homes.
If you’re not familiar with Kindle, here are some links:
I’m sure you’ve had a story that completely captured your imagination. Please tell me about it in the comments below.
Thanks for stopping by,