Got a check for $9 in the mail yesterday. It was for travel expenses on a trip I took five months ago. It came to me like magic. I must have lost it in the IKEA store of Conshohocken, and it just appeared out of no where for my return trip.
Back to the Omega Institute, for Holistic Studies. A campus in Rhinebeck, NY, where I will return today (April 21, 2010) for another retreat on PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
The Rhinebeck Savings Bank, of Poughkeepsie, NY, issued the check. Always liked the sound of Poughkeepsie. Reminds me of the Hudson River Valley and stories of a hen-pecked “marathon sleeper” and a school master named Ichabod Crane. See bartleby.com 1 for the story, “Rip Van Winkle,” and Washington Irving’s other classic, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at bartleby.com 2.
Rhinebeck and Poughkeepsie are near the site where Irving placed his famous characters. He had never left England, let alone set foot in up state New York when he wrote the classics. The tales are rich with magical lore, and that’s been the biggest draw for me to return to them over and over. How many other stories — almost 200 years old (1820) — still demand our attention, not to mention a new screen play every decade?
Wikipedia Synopsis of Rip Van Winkle:
The story of Rip Van Winkle is set in the years before and after the American Revolutionary War. Rip Van Winkle, a villager of Dutch descent, lives in a nice village at the foot of New York’s Catskill Mountains. An amiable man whose home and farm suffer from his lazy neglect, he is loved by all but his wife. One autumn day he escapes his nagging wife by wandering up the mountains. There he encounters strangely dressed men, rumored to be the ghosts of Henry Hudson‘s crew, who are playing nine-pins.
After drinking some of their liquor, he settles down under a shady tree and falls asleep. He wakes and returns to his village, where he finds 20 years have passed. He finds out that his wife has died and that his close friends have died in a war or gone somewhere else. He immediately gets into trouble when he proclaims himself a loyal subject of King George III, not knowing that the American Revolution has taken place. An old local recognizes him, however, and Rip’s now grown daughter takes him in. Rip resumes his habitual idleness, and his tale is solemnly believed by the old Dutch settlers, with certain hen-pecked husbands wishing they shared Rip’s good luck.
Sleepy Hollow Synopsis
The story is set at 1790 in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. It tells the story of Ichabod Crane, a lean, lanky, and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt, the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer, Baltus Van Tassel. As Crane leaves a party he attended at the Van Tassel home on an autumn night, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, who is supposedly the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during “some nameless battle” of the American Revolutionary War, and who “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head“. Ichabod mysteriously disappears from town, leaving Katrina to marry Brom Bones, who was “to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related.” Although the nature of the Headless Horseman is left open to interpretation, the story implies that the Horseman was really Brom Bones in disguise.
The spirits of the Hudson are calling me back. How else can one explain the check turning up at my Pennsylvania home the day before embarking on this magical journey once again?