Monday, December 29, 2014

THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

Did anyone notice that this Christmas was “different?”

About a week after Remembrance Day, Christmas music exploded out of our local radio channel, CHFI FM 98.1, and Christmas specials bombarded the plasma screen all throughout Christmas and right up until New Year’s Day. Almost every house on our street was lit up with Christmas displays and around the neighborhood there were more Christmas lights than ever before. Department stores had more selection of Christmas décor, with more tasteful items both traditional and modern, and even shoppers were happier.  

Personally, it was one of the best Christmases I can ever remember having. When the Christmas music started playing I got out all my lights and décor and put up the outdoor lights. I found my Christmas card list and started addressing the envelopes, all the while humming Joy to the World and Holy Night, Silent Night, and got those mailed by the last of November. I had our home all decorated by the middle of November with brightly colored balls, twinkling lights, a Nativity display, and a miniature lighted village, not to mention the foil garland hanging from the ceiling and all the plastic canvass patterns adorning the walls. I sat at my computer with a cup of Starbucks Peppermint Hot Cocoa and did my online shopping the first week of December, and we cut down our tree at the tree farm by the weekend. I started and finished all my Christmas shopping and got all my baking done by the following week. I even had all the trimmings for our feast a week early. I did it all at my leisure with a skip in my step and a smile on my face, and I never stressed about money or credit card debt; I bought what I wanted to buy and my son, husband, and I were ecstatic about our gifts under the Christmas tree on Christmas Day. We had so many things to awe and amaze us, and the best part was that we spent time together talking and laughing and playing games the whole day long. It had been a long time since I felt at peace like that. It was a wonderful Christmas. 

I called my younger oldest brother in Nackawic and he seemed to agree, speculating that it may have been the low cost of oil that contributed to the phenomena. When I spoke to other members of my distant family in Atlantic Canada, they were happy and content with their Christmas experiences, despite the absence of snow, and not one person complained that “Christmas is not like it used to be.”  And regardless of the current price of a stamp, I received many a Christmas card.

It was convenient that Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell before the weekend; it gave everyone a four day holiday to spend at home with family and that would put anyone in a good mood. 

Yes, the Spirit of Christmas was strong in many folks this year. I saw it in the happy faces of children when I was out and about, I heard it at the Christmas Eve mass at my church when angelic voices of the choir were lifted to the heavens, and I experienced it at home with my family; the looks of surprise on their faces opening their gifts, the fun and laughter while spending time together throughout the entire season, the twinkle in my son’s eyes while assembling the Gingerbread Carousel on Christmas Eve, and the never-ending signs of love and affection that seemed to flow from heavenly places. And when I was up alone in the quiet hours after midnight, I watched the twinkling of the lights on the tree, and I gave thanks for the food in the fridge, the clothes in our closets, the car we drive, the finances that sustain us, and our warm, safe, home. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

LET GO OF FEAR


The following is from one of the blogs I follow. This message was in my inbox this morning and it's one of those things that you just want everyone to think about, especially with the new year approaching as we all try to make the new year better than the last. Sign up today for the daily tidbits of enlightenment; the address is in the bottom right corner of the picture. 










 Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
 Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
 It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
 We ask ourselves,
 Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
 Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
 Your playing small does not serve the world.
 There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
 so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
 We are all meant to shine, as children do.
 We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
 It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
 And as we let our own light shine,
 we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
 As we are liberated from our own fear,
 our presence automatically liberates others.
 - Marianne Williamson

 When you find your path, you must not be afraid.
 You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.
 Disappointment, defeat, and despair are
 the tools God uses to show us the way.
 - Paulo Coelho

 If a man is called to be a street sweeper,
 he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
 or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
 He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts
 of heaven and earth will pause to say,
 here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
 - Martin Luther King, Jr.



© Permission

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CHRISTMAS RECIPES

The following recipes are my favorite Christmas recipes that have been passed around in my family time and time again. All are fairly quick and easy to make. 



BANANA BREAD

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

3 bananas 
2 eggs              
1 cup of sugar              
½ cup of butter                           
Chopped nuts, if desired.
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix together bananas, sugar, butter, and eggs until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan and place in oven for 1 hour. Bread is done when knife pierced in the middle comes out clean.



LASSY BUNS

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup of melted butter
1 cup of molasses
½ cup of milk
1 egg
4 1/2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of cloves
1 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt

Mix together molasses and butter. Add milk and egg, stir. Mix in remaining ingredients. Roll out on a floured surface to a ½ inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, or use the top of a drinking glass if you don’t have cookie cutters, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely before serving.



SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup of butter
¼ cup of sugar
¼ cup of icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of flour

Cream together butter, sugar, icing sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Work in flour. Knead into a ball and chill ten minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Use cookies cutters or top of a drinking glass to cut out. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Decorate as desired.



SNOWBALLS

½ cup of butter
1 cup of milk
2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa
½ teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of unsweetened coconut
2 ¼ cups of quick cook rolled oats

Mix butter, milk, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla in a pot on medium heat. Slowly stir until mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for about 3-4 minutes then remove from heat. Add coconut and rolled oats and mix thoroughly. Let cool. Form into balls and roll into sweetened coconut. 



HOLIDAY BARS

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Base:

1 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups of flour
½ teaspoon of salt

Cream together butter, eggs, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until smooth. Spread into an ungreased 13x9 inch pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool.


Top:

1 package of chocolate chips
½ cup of butter
2 cups icing sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 package of small colored marshmallows
¾ chopped nuts

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat in a pot on low heat. Stir constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and add icing sugar and egg. Beat until smooth. Fold in marshmallows and nuts. Spread over cooled base and chill. Cut into squares.




Lemon pie, cupcakes, shortbread, snowballs, holiday bars, and fudge. Yum Yum Yum.

Monday, December 1, 2014

KEEPING OUR RELIGION


About a month ago, just before Halloween, I went to the post office to post a small bubble envelope with a few Halloween things in it for my little nephew who lives in Newfoundland. 

“Hi, how ya doin’? I said to John, the man working the cash. 

“I’m good, how are you?” He smiled.

“Not too bad, hangin’ in there. How’s the old ticker?” I asked.

“I’m still standing,” he said with a chuckle.

John had had heart surgery the year before and was out of commission for a while, but he was back to work and doing just fine. 

“How’s it going with you? How’s the back doing?”

“Oh, I can’t complain, some days good, some days bad. It is what it is, right?” I said.

“Yeah, all we can do is keep going the best we know how.” He had accepted his fate just as I had accepted mine. 

I handed him my package. “Regular post, John.”

He entered the information in the computer. “That’ll be $18.05.” 

“What!”

He looked up at me, not surprised by my reaction.

“It went up again. You haven’t sent a package in a while, huh?”

“No, the last time I sent a package back home was last Christmas.”

“It went up a lot this time. It’s $1.00 for a stamp now, $1.13 with tax.”

“Wow, I don’t think I’ll be sending any packages home this year. That costs more than what is in the bag.” I got out my bank card and finished the sale.

John snickered. “You say than every year.”

“Yah, I know, but this year, I dunno. Maybe I won’t send Christmas cards either. I’m always short on cash since I stopped working.”

He gave me the receipt. “It’s not easy for a lot of people, the way things are going these days. But, you know, you can’t give up sending Christmas cards, that’s part of our religion. I see people coming in here all the time sending their cards for Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Hanukah, not too many sending Christmas cards. If you don’t send Christmas cards, you’re not spreading the Word of God, you’re not keeping your religion. Think about it. The next thing you know Christianity will disappear. It’s up to Christians to keep Christmas.”




The Nativity


I looked at him, dumbfounded at his profound words. “I never thought about it that way before,” I managed to say. “Thanks, John.”

He smiled and nodded. I left the store with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. God works in mysterious ways.

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I don’t do anything else to spread the Word, to keep my religion. I might go to church once a month, and my home church does receive a monthly donation, but, other than that, there’s nothing else. 

Every year since as far back as I can remember I have sent Christmas cards and have added to the list year after year. Last year, I sent out about 75 cards and never once thought about it as “spreading the word.” I was doing it because it was just something I did as a part of Christmas, never really thinking about it. It was what I did to wish all my friends and relatives a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It’s funny how something can become so tedious that its meaning is forgotten. And when I told John I wasn’t going to send any cards, something else came into play, the Spirit of God if you will, and I was given a new perspective. 

So every week thereafter I bought a package of stamps and last week I bought some Christmas cards. Sparkling lights, shiny tinsel, and colored bells fill my tiny home, and today, I will be spreading the Word of God by getting my cards ready for mailing. 







The world's first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843.



I have noticed that in recent years the number of people who send a card back has diminished, not that I expect a card back; I’m wondering maybe others need a new perspective as well. So I’m going to print this little story and put it in all the cards and hope that all my relatives and friends find a new perspective, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

HERE WAS A MAN






(Joy to the world, the Lord is come)

Here was a man, a man
Who was born in a small village
The son of a peasant woman
He grew up in another small village
Until he reached the age of thirty
He worked as a carpenter


Then for three years
He was a traveling minister
But he never traveled more
Than two hundred miles from
Where he was born and
Where he did go he usually walked


He never held political office
He never wrote a book
Never bought a home
Never had a family
He never went to college
And he never set foot inside a big city
Yes, here was a man


Though he never did one of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He had nothing to do with this world
Except through the divine purpose
That brought him to this world


While he was still a young man
The tide of popular opinion turned against him
Most of his friends ran away
One of them denied him
One of them betrayed him
And turned him over to his enemies
Then he went through the mockery of a trial


And was nailed to a cross between two thieves
And even while he was dying
His executioners gambled
For the only piece of property
That he had in this world
And that was his robe his purple robe


When he was dead
He was taken down from the cross
And laid in a borrowed grave
Provided by compassionate friends
More than nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today he's a centerpiece of the human race
Our leader in the column to human destiny


I think, I'm well within the mark when I say
That all of the armies that ever marched
All of the navies that ever sailed the seas
All of the legislative bodies that ever sat
And all of the kings that ever reigned
All of them put together have not affected
The life of man on this earth
So powerfully as that one solitary life
Here was a man

(Joy to the world, the Lord is come)


Songwriters
Johnny Bond, Tex Ritter

From the album "The Christmas Spirit"
JOHNNY CASH
1963




Monday, November 17, 2014

TIPS FOR WINTER DRIVING

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, then you are probably out on the road driving on the slippery slush-filled path trying to get to work. If you didn't anticipated the snow then you are one of these people who are stuck in traffic right now. It lightly snowed all night and it's still coming down. I hope that you got a chance to get those winter tires installed and brushed down your car before heading out this morning. I pray that you are taking your time and not tailgating. I'm assuming that you are smart enough to anticipate the red lights and signal your lane changes and turns well in advance. 

I have compiled a list of tips for driving in this lovely white stuff. For those of you who feel that you are a good driver, it is not my intention to criticize, but to remind everyone that when it comes to Canadian winters, we all need to read and re-read tips on safe driving to help keep everyone safe, ourselves, our passengers, other drivers and their passengers, and pedestrians. Let's be responsible and work together to keep everyone safe this winter season while keeping our insurance rates from getting any higher.


WINTER TIRES:

Did you get a chance to install those winter tires yet? Remember how much snow we had last year? Who's to say that it will be any better this year? As everyone knows, weather forecasts and predictions are to be used as a guide only; we live in Canada, therefore, we are guaranteed snow. 

There are a few places in Brampton to get some winter tires installed while you wait. TIRE DISCOUNTER at 190 Bovaird Drive, 905-451-1116, has been putting tires on my car for years. If you don't know a thing about buying winter tires, they will give you a quote on a brand they have in stock, then you can Google the brand name and find reviews and ratings about the brand and then, upon your approval, they will install your tires while you wait. They do not take appointments, it's first come, first serve, so be sure to get there early if time is limited for you. Since being told about this place by my mechanic, who has a shop at the far end of the building, I haven't gone any other place. They are knowledgeable and quick, and if they don't have the tires you want in stock, they can get them for you. I got my winter tires installed for $300.00 less than the dealership. Also, they have good used tires if buying new is not an option. I have put used tires on my car in the past and they did just fine. 

P.S. Don't bother going to their website, you will only get confused and frustrated. Just go on over and ask in person; face to face communication is always better.


SNOW BRUSHES AND SCRAPERS and NEW WINDSHIELD WIPERS:

Have you ever been behind one of those people who didn't bother brushing off the snow from their car and it's like a mini snow storm until you change lanes, and then shoot them a dirty look when you pass them? Yes, we have all been there. Remember what you said and how you judged them? "Look at that guy, lazy bastard!"
Don't be that guy. Walmart has an assortment of snow brushes and ice scrapers to fit any budget. Put it on your to do list and get up extra early to brush the snow off your car, and keep your car clear of snow. You're putting your life, and others, in danger every time you get on the road where the only clean spot on your vehicle is the spot your wipers will reach. Regardless of what you think, snow doesn't always blow off your car and by then it may already be too late.



http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/kool-basic-short-handle-snow-brush/6000132108824



This was taken this morning, she wiped off the side window with her her sleeve then got into the car and took off.



With respect to windshield wipers, regardless of cost, they only last six months, max, so while your car is getting a winter tune-up, you might as well dish out the money for a new set of wipers, why make your winter driving more hazardous with old and worn wipers that can't keep your windshield clean and your visibility 100 percent? Walmart and Canadian Tire have a vast assortment of wiper blades in a wide range of prices; your apt to find a pair that will do the job.


TAKE YOUR TIME:

Yes, I know you feel like you don't have to be told to slow down. It should be common sense, right? For many people common sense goes out the window right after they get off work. You're not going to get where you're going any sooner by driving like a maniac. Everyone is trying to get home, think about getting home safe, not ten or fifteen minutes earlier. Driving in the snow is not like driving on dry asphalt. It's slippery, especially in freezing temperatures when patches of black ice form, and heaven forbid, there's zero visibility. Get up earlier in the morning to prepare for the drive: dress warm, warm up your car if you don't use an automatic starter or block heater, and clean the snow off your entire car. 


DON'T TAILGATE:

If the guy in front of you slams on the brakes, are you going to pummel the car's rear end should your car just keep sliding on that slushy or icy road? Think about it. This happens more than you may think and keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you may save you a lot of time and money. Did you know that Brampton, Ontario, has the highest insurance rates in the country?


ANTICIPATE THE RED LIGHTS: 

Don't try and race that red light, it's not worth it. I have personally seen drivers making left hand turns on the yellow caution light and get hit by an oncoming car racing the light. This is even more dangerous in the winter because it can cause a pile up. Think of  a Bumper Car ride at the amusement park. That is exactly what it looks like. One car hits another then those cars slide into other cars and so on. It's not pretty, trust me. Take your time approaching traffic lights, don't try and race them, or you may find yourself bouncing around like a bumper car in the middle of a busy intersection.


SIGNAL LANE CHANGES AND TURNS IN ADVANCE:

There is always some driver out there who just refuses to signal and then they slam on their brakes just before making a turn leaving you with little or no time to react. Even if you are not tailgating it is quite annoying not knowing where that driver ahead of you is going. Is he/she going right or left? Then when you think he/she is going one way, they end up doing the opposite! Perhaps you have done this yourself. I have, but not on purpose! How do you expect people to get out of your way if you do not signal your intentions? If you are changing lanes, signal first, look, then if the way is clear, change. Don't try and race the other driver because you want to get in the lane, just wait until the car passes, do it safely. Let the driver behind you know what your intentions are, if you're signalling right, go right, not left! Remember, it's slippery out there, our vehicles may not stop when we want them to. We need time to react. It also pays to know where you are going and the route you are taking. 


So, there it is.  Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk, or in this case, drive the drive. Let's get through this winter with the least amount of incidents as possible. It starts with each and every one of us. We must realize that driving is a privilege and driving in the snow can be dangerous, even treacherous. 

Listen to your local radio announcer, he/she has all the traffic updates and information regarding your commute. And for the sake of all of us, please keep your fingers off your phone, Ipod, or other device you may have. 

Safety should be your top priority when you get behind the wheel. Be responsible, set a good example for your passengers and the other drivers around you. Stay focused, keep your eyes always on the road, and concentrate on getting home to your loved ones safe and sound.










Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DAY TRIP TO BLUE MOUNTAIN

It was the Thanksgiving weekend and we decided to go for a drive north of the city to check out the fall colors. It was a beautiful day and the drive was uneventful. My partner was in the passenger seat taking pictures and my son was in the back seat enjoying the scenery. 



Tractors for sale.





Green barn and silo.




The power of the wind.



Grain elevator in the distance.  Click on the link to find out more about the grain elevator.



http://www.town.collingwood.on.ca/node/483


I had printed a Google Map to Blue Mountain and got it out when I got closer to our destination. I knew the way to Collingwood from Brampton, but getting to the actual attraction was tricky. Either the map needed an update or someone needed to add a few more signs saying that you’re on the right track. I threw the map aside and just went with my natural sense of direction. I could see the mountains and I knew I was on the right path when the vehicular traffic picked up. And then when I saw the crowds of people I knew that I was in the right place. 

There were four entrances, each one leading to a different place: red signs labeled 1 South led to the South Base Lodge, blue signs labeled 2 Village led to The Village, orange signs labeled with 3 Inn led to the Blue Mountain Inn, and black signs labeled 4 North led to the North End parking lot.  I came across three large dirt parking lots but they were all full. It was a job trying to get through the people. We wondered what was going on.

My partner got frustrated and started talking stupid saying how he wasn’t going to be walking all over the place, and I tried to ignore him. I drove around some more and tried to find the entrance to The Village, but apparently it was a walk-through with parking on the outer circle. I got out of there and drove to the top of the mountain where there were a few attractions: zip-line, tours, some cave, and hiking/biking trails. Vehicles were parked on the side of the road and tickets were under everyone’s wiper. I drove some more and found a small parking lot. I was relieved to get out of the car as I was beginning to get “car fever.” We go out, stretched, and went for a short walk.

The crowds were unbelievable. There were people running, walking, biking, and a tour guide had people riding Segways. We had to yield right-of-way to bikers because they didn’t care where they went. We wondered if it was always like this or was there something going on. We stopped to talk to a few people; some were out of town, some were locals who told us that it was always crowded, especially on weekends. But it’s a ski resort, what is there to do other than that? Well, I guess they all had the same idea as we did.

We walked farther and took a few pictures. The scenery was nice. You could see the entire bowl shape of the southern end of Georgian Bay, to the east the Wasaga Beaches, the town of Collingwood, and to the north distant shorelines of the bay. It was hard to take pictures because there were so many people passing by, but we managed.



This is The Village from atop the mountain. It may look quaint, but looks are deceiving.


Then something happened, I needed to pee. There were no portable toilets anywhere, so I did what any woman would do, went into the bushes. Not a very good idea. The bushes were also swarming with people! My partner and son walked with me half-way down one of the slopes and I squatted in some thick underbrush while the boys kept watch. I couldn’t understand why a big attraction like Blue Mountain, brimming with people, did not have at least one portable toilet! 

We went into the woods and found that there were trails all through the woods. Stairs were built to help with the climb. Little streams flowed from above. It was very nice, but nothing remarkable for a two hour drive. I wanted to walk down the slope to get to The Village to check out the stores and to see if there was a place to eat, but the boys didn’t want to. My boys are couch potatoes which is unfortunate for me because it’s a fight every time I try to get them out. I was a bit disappointed, but I was tired from the drive and it was starting to get cold. We took some more photos and headed back to the car. 



My boys, the couch potatoes.

As we drove away, we heaved a sigh of relief. Even though we were outside we were surrounded by thousands of people. It was like downtown Toronto on New Year’s Eve. All we wanted to do was get out of there. My partner drove home, my son fell asleep in the back seat, and I dozed off in the passenger seat.  

When we got home it was late so we went for take-out. I sat at the computer munching on my fried chicken (yes, I eat fried chicken occasionally, don't judge me) and researching Blue Mountain. I came across some review sites and perused the reviews, seems like everyone who left a comment had nothing good to say about their experience there. Most people commented on the crowds, the expense, the lack of a decent restaurant – I’m glad we waited to get home to eat, and how going south of the border was a better idea. I copied a few comments below.


"Growing up in Toronto, Blue is the closest thing to a "mountain" that we have around here and therefore it seems to be the place to go. It has always been over crowded. To give credit to Blue, opening up the "orchard" area has seemed to disperse the crowds a bit, but 15 minute waits for lifts are still very common. I won't comment on the amount of snow because ultimately Mother Nature has final say on that front, but what I will say is that due to the sheer volume of people on the hill whatever snow there is gets quickly eroded away by around 11:00 a.m. After that the snow is slushy or very icy (depending on the temperature). The things that seem to be out of Blue's control however, are the clientele. Blue gets an inordinate amount of idiots on their hills. I'm not talking about beginners or simply young rowdy kids here; I'm talking about semi-experienced skiers/boarders that think they are on some sort of World Cup circuit and have no regard for anyone else on the hill. I've been to Blue many times over the last 30 years and just about every time I witness many near misses. It really is quite dangerous. Blue seems to have no patrols on the hill (other than the first aid patrol). It seems that these same people feel it's okay to throw cans and litter off of the chair lift. Never have I seen so much garbage under the lift anywhere! Just an FYI....if you are wanting to go to the terrain park, Blue charges EXTRA for that! I've never been ANYWHERE that charges extra for runs that you've already paid for!! My recommendation (even if it means you find this little gem) is that if you live in the Toronto area and want a weekend or a couple of days skiing/boarding...turn your car south and go across the border to Holiday Valley just south of Buffalo. Yes it's a longer drive, but they have more vertical there and the time will be made up by not waiting in line at the lifts."

"This is the first time I'm writing a review and I am hoping this would be a wakeup call for Blue Mountain if they ever read these reviews. I was there a couple a weekends ago when a friend's daughter got wiped-out by a snowboarder, right at the base of the run 20 or so meters from the Inn's lift. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance with a head concussion (she was wearing a helmet) but luckily she has recovered well. My 8yr old daughter almost got wiped-out by a Toronto ski Club instructor who jumped over the top of a hill without looking and seeing that my daughter and another child were skiing right in front of him past that edge. This was happening on the way to Happy Valley which is supposed to be "Slow area and green run" Yesterday we visited Blue Mountain resort again. This time the crowds were not as big, but they had all the resort's snow making guns blowing snow on an already foggy, and very cold (-15C) and windy day, reducing the visibility to ZERO in a lot of areas on most of the ski runs. I skied the north side and the Inn's side and I was constantly afraid that I could ram into a lift tower. I thought yesterday was the most dangerous ski experience I've ever had, despite skiing a lot of much bigger mountains (Colorado, Utah, Alberta, BC, Europe, etc.). I talked about this to the people running the lifts and they merely shrugged off my concerns. This resort doesn't seem to care about its customers' safety at all. They get big crowds during the weekend and on holidays because they're the only resort close to the GTA having a somewhat decent terrain. Very disappointed."

"Been twice to Blue recently and have been wiped out by a board both times. There really should be separate runs for each, since they move differently and boarders have larger blind spots. (Note I am an advance skier, with regular turns (not like beginners who travel across the hill erratically). Also so many boarders block the opening of the runs, instead of going off to the side of the run. There should be a designated area for adjusting boots & bindings. Safety is a real issue here at this hill. Not worth the risk, will go elsewhere."

"Again, it is Ontario, and Intrawest loves to add all the goodies in order to make you feel your somewhere else, you’re not it is just Ontario. So the prices are now high, the slopes are busy, low prices rooms hard to find close to hill, too much ice etc."

"I should start by saying that in Southern Ontario just about anywhere you go you can expect it to be busy. Blue Mountain however goes above and beyond this... From my visits there are always way more people at the resort than the hill can actually handle. The lift tickets are rather pricey for what you get (56 dollars for the day when I went). I did not have to rent, but people I was with did and the rates were high (38 dollars for a day). The hill itself is alright at best; I found the hill to be really chopped up and wasn't expecting this at all. I didn't find any of the runs to be terribly challenging, but there is a good variety. In summary Blue Mountain is an alright resort if you don't have any other options. Contrary to what many people think, it is not actually the biggest hill in Ontario, so don't believe everything you read. For anyone in Southern Ontario looking for the absolute best skiing/snowboarding you can find in the province... head up north to Sault Ste. Marie if you have the time. You will not be disappointed as Search Mont provides basically everything Blue Mountain doesn't... cheap lift tickets, non-existent lines, the best hill you can ski/snowboard in the province AND it’s bigger than Blue Mountain."

I and my family have been skiing at Blue Mountain for over 30 years. The only reason that we continue to ski there, is because of its proximity to our home, and our love of skiing. The Mountain itself has little to offer that is attractive to the avid or fairly accomplished skier. The staffs is inconsistent in their level of friendliness, courtesy, and enthusiasm, which I suspect is directly attributable to the level of interest and training supplied to them by their supervisors and managers. We have noticed a decided decline in the level of customer service/appreciation since the arrival of INTRAWEST. It is also interesting to note that Blue Mountain is one of the only resorts in North America that we have visited which will not guarantee your accommodation location. In other words, you may want, and indeed be prepared to pay for slope-side accommodation, but when you get there, you take what you get. Think twice before spending your hard earned money at this over-priced, underserviced excuse for a resort.

"Food is expensive. And forget buying gear there. But then that’s kind of expected. Why bother. When downtown Collingwood is approx. 3min away. And you can find a lot better options, Also when it comes to renting gear. You can rent gear just outside the resort. It’s a fraction of the price. Ps. AVOID HOLLIDAYS... IT WILL BE BUSY."

"Overhyped and overpriced. Crowds are too large you spend more time waiting for lifts than you do skiing. The mountain despite its posting has no expert or advanced runs. Any intermediate can ski any runs at Blue. Intrawest does such a great job drawing crowds into the area that it over loads all the services and eateries afterwards. The accommodations are very good but too pricy for the type of experience you get at Blue. The cost of everything in the village is exorbitant so don't lose or break anything or you will have to take a bank loan to get replacement equipment or clothing. My suggestion for the same price but a real hill is Tremblant. But explore Holliday Valley New York Ellicottville 53 runs with some great drops. Forget Blue. 1000 more vertical feet and it may be worth it."

"I am a Toronto area resident. And I would have to agree with all the arguments from the first post. I have had many equally dismal experiences at this mountain. And there are attractive options, close to the GTA, Barrie, for instance."



Even though I prefer cross-country skiing, I plan on returning to Blue Mountain in a few months perhaps for a night or two to gain a better perspective and report back with a more informative post.



www.bluemountain.ca

http://www.onthesnow.ca/ontario/blue-mountain/reviews.html





Saturday, November 8, 2014

MOTHER NATURE


I tell her my darkest secrets and my
deepest thoughts. She listens without
judgment or criticism; she is indifferent.

When I’m with her I feel at peace, nothing
else exists, it’s just her and me. Her presence
envelopes me until I am saturated with her.

On occasion I deny her, but her essence
always finds me and I can ignore her no
longer, for she is a powerful force.

The more time I spend with her the more
confident I become. She makes me feel 
pure, cleansed, and sensual.

Her fingers caress me, her touch is 
transcendent; it cannot be replicated.

Her eyes are sometimes as black as a 
moonless night when stars refuse to 
sparkle, and other times they are as blue
as a cloudless midsummer afternoon sky; 
they are mesmerizing.

She wears many different colors: florals, earth
tones, fiery, and shades of gray; they match
her ever-changing moods. She can be calm and
then become ferocious in a split second; she is 
hard to predict.

I am lulled by her sweet nothings. I hear her 
melodies in the rustling of the leaves, in the 
swaying tallgrass, in the effervescent water 
of the river, and I am transformed, forever.









Friday, November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

RICHARD CORY


My son is studying this poem in English class, like so many others before him. The poem needs no explanation.





RICHARD CORY
By Edwin Arlington Robinson





Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.




Friday, October 31, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEEN


                 THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW


                    by Washington Irving





   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,
          Forever 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 noontime, 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 powwows 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 ninefold, 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 churchyard, 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 churchyard 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.

    It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have
mentioned is not confined to the native inhabitants of the
valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides
there for a time.  However wide awake they may have been before
they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time,
to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow
imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

    I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it
is in such little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there
embosomed in the great State of New York, that population,
manners, and customs remain fixed, while the great torrent of
migration and improvement, which is making such incessant changes
in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by them
unobserved.  They are like those little nooks of still water,
which border a rapid stream, where we may see the straw and
bubble riding quietly at anchor, or slowly revolving in their
mimic harbor, undisturbed by the rush of the passing current.
Though many years have elapsed since I trod the drowsy shades of
Sleepy Hollow, yet I question whether I should not still find the
same trees and the same families vegetating in its sheltered
bosom.

    In this by-place of nature there abode, in a remote period
of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a
worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane, who sojourned, or, as
he expressed it, "tarried," in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of
instructing the children of the vicinity.  He was a native of
Connecticut, a State which supplies the Union with pioneers for
the mind as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly its
legions of frontier woodmen and country schoolmasters.  The
cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person.  He was
tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and
legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that
might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely
hung together.  His head was small, and flat at top, with huge
ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it
looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck to tell
which way the wind blew.  To see him striding along the profile of
a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering
about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine
descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a
cornfield.

    His schoolhouse was a low building of one large room, rudely
constructed of logs; the windows partly glazed, and partly
patched with leaves of old copybooks.  It was most ingeniously
secured at vacant hours, by a withe twisted in the handle of the
door, and stakes set against the window shutters; so that though
a thief might get in with perfect ease, he would find some
embarrassment in getting out,--an idea most probably borrowed by
the architect, Yost Van Houten, from the mystery of an eelpot.
The schoolhouse stood in a rather lonely but pleasant situation,
just at the foot of a woody hill, with a brook running close by,
and a formidable birch-tree growing at one end of it.  From hence
the low murmur of his pupils' voices, conning over their lessons,
might be heard in a drowsy summer's day, like the hum of a
beehive; interrupted now and then by the authoritative voice of
the master, in the tone of menace or command, or, peradventure,
by the appalling sound of the birch, as he urged some tardy
loiterer along the flowery path of knowledge.  Truth to say, he
was a conscientious man, and ever bore in mind the golden maxim,
"Spare the rod and spoil the child." Ichabod Crane's scholars
certainly were not spoiled.

    I would not have it imagined, however, that he was one of
those cruel potentates of the school who joy in the smart of
their subjects; on the contrary, he administered justice with
discrimination rather than severity; taking the burden off the
backs of the weak, and laying it on those of the strong.  Your
mere puny stripling, that winced at the least flourish of the
rod, was passed by with indulgence; but the claims of justice
were satisfied by inflicting a double portion on some little
tough wrong-headed, broad-skirted Dutch urchin, who sulked and
swelled and grew dogged and sullen beneath the birch.  All this he
called "doing his duty by their parents;" and he never inflicted
a chastisement without following it by the assurance, so
consolatory to the smarting urchin, that "he would remember it
and thank him for it the longest day he had to live."

    When school hours were over, he was even the companion and
playmate of the larger boys; and on holiday afternoons would
convoy some of the smaller ones home, who happened to have pretty
sisters, or good housewives for mothers, noted for the comforts
of the cupboard.  Indeed, it behooved him to keep on good terms
with his pupils.  The revenue arising from his school was small,
and would have been scarcely sufficient to furnish him with daily
bread, for he was a huge feeder, and, though lank, had the
dilating powers of an anaconda; but to help out his maintenance,
he was, according to country custom in those parts, boarded and
lodged at the houses of the farmers whose children he instructed.
With these he lived successively a week at a time, thus going the
rounds of the neighborhood, with all his worldly effects tied up
in a cotton handkerchief.

    That all this might not be too onerous on the purses of his
rustic patrons, who are apt to consider the costs of schooling
a grievous burden, and schoolmasters as mere drones, he had
various ways of rendering himself both useful and agreeable.
He assisted the farmers occasionally in the lighter labors of
their farms, helped to make hay, mended the fences, took the
horses to water, drove the cows from pasture, and cut wood
for the winter fire.  He laid aside, too, all the dominant
dignity and absolute sway with which he lorded it in his
little empire, the school, and became wonderfully gentle
and ingratiating.  He found favor in the eyes of the mothers
by petting the children, particularly the youngest; and like
the lion bold, which whilom so magnanimously the lamb did hold,
he would sit with a child on one knee, and rock a cradle with
his foot for whole hours together.

    In addition to his other vocations, he was the singing-
master of the neighborhood, and picked up many bright shillings
by instructing the young folks in psalmody.  It was a matter of no
little vanity to him on Sundays, to take his station in front of
the church gallery, with a band of chosen singers; where, in his
own mind, he completely carried away the palm from the parson.
Certain it is, his voice resounded far above all the rest of the
congregation; and there are peculiar quavers still to be heard in
that church, and which may even be heard half a mile off, quite
to the opposite side of the millpond, on a still Sunday morning,
which are said to be legitimately descended from the nose of
Ichabod Crane.  Thus, by divers little makeshifts, in that
ingenious way which is commonly denominated "by hook and by
crook," the worthy pedagogue got on tolerably enough, and was
thought, by all who understood nothing of the labor of headwork,
to have a wonderfully easy life of it.

    The schoolmaster is generally a man of some importance in
the female circle of a rural neighborhood; being considered a
kind of idle, gentlemanlike personage, of vastly superior taste
and accomplishments to the rough country swains, and, indeed,
inferior in learning only to the parson.  His appearance,
therefore, is apt to occasion some little stir at the tea-table
of a farmhouse, and the addition of a supernumerary dish of cakes
or sweetmeats, or, peradventure, the parade of a silver teapot.
Our man of letters, therefore, was peculiarly happy in the smiles
of all the country damsels.  How he would figure among them in the
churchyard, between services on Sundays; gathering grapes for
them from the wild vines that overran the surrounding trees;
reciting for their amusement all the epitaphs on the tombstones;
or sauntering, with a whole bevy of them, along the banks of the
adjacent millpond; while the more bashful country bumpkins hung
sheepishly back, envying his superior elegance and address.

    From his half-itinerant life, also, he was a kind of
travelling gazette, carrying the whole budget of local gossip from
house to house, so that his appearance was always greeted with
satisfaction.  He was, moreover, esteemed by the women as a man of
great erudition, for he had read several books quite through, and
was a perfect master of Cotton  Mather's "History of New England
Witchcraft," in which, by the way, he most firmly and potently
believed.

    He was, in fact, an odd mixture of small shrewdness and
simple credulity.  His appetite for the marvellous, and his powers
of digesting it, were equally extraordinary; and both had been
increased by his residence in this spell-bound region.  No tale
was too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow.  It was
often his delight, after his school was dismissed in the
afternoon, to stretch himself on the rich bed of clover bordering
the little brook that whimpered by his schoolhouse, and there
con over old Mather's direful tales, until the gathering dusk of
evening made the printed page a mere mist before his eyes.  Then,
as he wended his way by swamp and stream and awful woodland, to
the farmhouse where he happened to be quartered, every sound
of nature, at that witching hour, fluttered his excited
imagination,--the moan of the whip-poor-will from the hillside,
the boding cry of the tree toad, that harbinger of storm, the
dreary hooting of the screech owl, or the sudden rustling in the
thicket of birds frightened from their roost.  The fireflies, too,
which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, now and then
startled him, as one of uncommon brightness would stream across
his path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle came
winging his blundering flight against him, the poor varlet was
ready to give up the ghost, with the idea that he was struck with
a witch's token.  His only resource on such occasions, either to
drown thought or drive away evil spirits, was to sing psalm tunes
and the good people of Sleepy Hollow, as they sat by their doors
of an evening, were often filled with awe at hearing his nasal
melody, "in linked sweetness long drawn out," floating from the
distant hill, or along the dusky road.

    Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long
winter evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by
the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the
hearth, and listen to their marvellous tales of ghosts and
goblins, and haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted
bridges, and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless
horseman, or Galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes
called him.  He would delight them equally by his anecdotes of
witchcraft, and of the direful omens and portentous sights and
sounds in the air, which prevailed in the earlier times of
Connecticut; and would frighten them woefully with speculations
upon comets and shooting stars; and with the alarming fact that
the world did absolutely turn round, and that they were half the
time topsy-turvy!

    But if there was a pleasure in all this, while snugly
cuddling in the chimney corner of a chamber that was all of a
ruddy glow from the crackling wood fire, and where, of course, no
spectre dared to show its face, it was dearly purchased by the
terrors of his subsequent walk homewards.  What fearful shapes and
shadows beset his path, amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a
snowy night!  With what wistful look did he eye every trembling
ray of light streaming across the waste fields from some distant
window!  How often was he appalled by some shrub covered with
snow, which, like a sheeted spectre, beset his very path!  How
often did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own
steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread to look
over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being
tramping close behind him! And how often was he thrown into
complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling among the trees,
in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of his
nightly scourings!

    All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms
of the mind that walk in darkness; and though he had seen many
spectres in his time, and been more than once beset by Satan in
divers shapes, in his lonely perambulations, yet daylight put an
end to all these evils; and he would have passed a pleasant life
of it, in despite of the Devil and all his works, if his path had
not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal
man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put
together, and that was--a woman.

    Among the musical disciples who assembled, one evening in
each week, to receive his instructions in psalmody, was Katrina
Van Tassel, the daughter and only child of a substantial Dutch
farmer.  She was a blooming lass of fresh eighteen; plump as a
partridge; ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked as one of her
father's peaches, and universally famed, not merely for her
beauty, but her vast expectations.  She was withal a little of a
coquette, as might be perceived even in her dress, which was a
mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off
her charms.  She wore the ornaments of pure yellow gold, which her
great-great-grandmother had brought over from Saardam; the
tempting stomacher of the olden time, and withal a provokingly
short petticoat, to display the prettiest foot and ankle in the
country round.

    Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex;
and it is not to be wondered at that so tempting a morsel soon
found favor in his eyes, more especially after he had visited her
in her paternal mansion.  Old Baltus Van Tassel was a perfect
picture of a thriving, contented, liberal-hearted farmer.  He
seldom, it is true, sent either his eyes or his thoughts beyond
the boundaries of his own farm; but within those everything was
snug, happy and well-conditioned.  He was satisfied with his
wealth, but not proud of it; and piqued himself upon the hearty
abundance, rather than the style in which he lived.  His
stronghold was situated on the banks of the Hudson, in one of
those green, sheltered, fertile nooks in which the Dutch farmers
are so fond of nestling.  A great elm tree spread its broad
branches over it, at the foot of which bubbled up a spring of the
softest and sweetest water, in a little well formed of a barrel;
and then stole sparkling away through the grass, to a neighboring
brook, that babbled  along among alders and dwarf willows.  Hard
by the farmhouse was a vast barn, that might have served for a
church; every window and crevice of which seemed bursting
forth with the treasures of the farm; the flail was busily
resounding within it from morning to night; swallows and martins
skimmed twittering about the eaves; and rows of pigeons, some with
one eye turned up, as if watching the weather, some with their
heads under their wings or buried in their bosoms, and others
swelling, and cooing, and bowing about their dames, were enjoying
the sunshine on the roof.  Sleek unwieldy porkers were grunting in
the repose and abundance of their pens, from whence sallied
forth, now and then, troops of sucking pigs, as if to snuff the
air.  A stately squadron of snowy geese were riding in an
adjoining pond, convoying whole fleets of ducks; regiments of
turkeys were gobbling through the farmyard, and Guinea fowls
fretting about it, like ill-tempered housewives, with their
peevish, discontented cry.  Before the barn door strutted the
gallant cock, that pattern of a husband, a warrior and a fine
gentleman, clapping his burnished wings and crowing in the pride
and gladness of his heart,--sometimes tearing up the earth with
his feet, and then generously calling his ever-hungry family of
wives and children to enjoy the rich morsel which he had
discovered.

    The pedagogue's mouth watered as he looked upon this
sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare.  In his devouring
mind's eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running
about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the
pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked
in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own
gravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married
couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce.  In the porkers
he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy
relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up,
with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of
savory sausages; and even bright chanticleer himself lay
sprawling on his back, in a side dish, with uplifted claws, as if
craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask
while living.

    As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled
his great green eyes over the fat meadow lands, the rich fields
of wheat, of rye, of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards
burdened with ruddy fruit, which surrounded the warm tenement of
Van Tassel, his heart yearned after the damsel who was to inherit
these domains, and his imagination expanded with the idea, how
they might be readily turned into cash, and the money invested in
immense tracts of wild land, and shingle palaces in the
wilderness.  Nay, his busy fancy already realized his hopes, and
presented to him the blooming Katrina, with a whole family of
children, mounted on the top of a wagon loaded with household
trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling beneath; and he beheld
himself bestriding a pacing mare, with a colt at her heels,
setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee,--or the Lord knows where!

    When he entered the house, the conquest of his heart was
complete.  It was one of those spacious farmhouses, with high-
ridged but lowly sloping roofs, built in the style handed down
from the first Dutch settlers; the low projecting eaves forming a
piazza along the front, capable of being closed up in bad
weather.  Under this were hung flails, harness, various utensils
of husbandry, and nets for fishing in the neighboring river.
Benches were built along the sides for summer use; and a great
spinning-wheel at one end, and a churn at the other, showed the
various uses to which this important porch might be devoted.  From
this piazza the wondering Ichabod entered the hall, which formed
the centre of the mansion, and the place of usual residence.  Here
rows of resplendent pewter, ranged on a long dresser, dazzled his
eyes.  In one corner stood a huge bag of wool, ready to be spun;
in another, a quantity of linsey-woolsey just from the loom; ears
of Indian corn, and strings of dried apples and peaches, hung in
gay festoons along the walls, mingled with the gaud of red
peppers; and a door left ajar gave him a peep into the best
parlor, where the claw-footed chairs and dark mahogany tables
shone like mirrors; andirons, with their accompanying shovel and
tongs, glistened from their covert of asparagus tops; mock-
oranges and conch-shells decorated the mantelpiece; strings of
various-colored birds eggs were suspended above it; a great
ostrich egg was hung from the centre of the room, and a corner
cupboard, knowingly left open, displayed immense treasures of old
silver and well-mended china.

    From the moment Ichabod laid his eyes upon these regions of
delight, the peace of his mind was at an end, and his only study
was how to gain the affections of the peerless daughter of
Van Tassel.  In this enterprise, however, he had more real
difficulties than generally fell to the lot of a knight-errant of
yore, who seldom had anything but giants, enchanters, fiery
dragons, and such like easily conquered adversaries, to contend
with and had to make his way merely through gates of iron and
brass, and walls of adamant to the castle keep, where the lady of
his heart was confined; all which he achieved as easily as a man
would carve his way to the centre of a Christmas pie; and then
the lady gave him her hand as a matter of course.  Ichabod, on the
contrary, had to win his way to the heart of a country coquette,
beset with a labyrinth of whims and caprices, which were forever
presenting new difficulties and impediments; and he had to
encounter a host of fearful adversaries of real flesh and blood,
the numerous rustic admirers, who beset every portal to her
heart, keeping a watchful and angry eye upon each other, but
ready to fly out in the common cause against any new competitor.

    Among these, the most formidable was a burly, roaring,
roystering blade, of the name of Abraham, or, according to the
Dutch abbreviation, Brom Van Brunt, the hero of the country round,
which rang with his feats of strength and hardihood.  He was
broad-shouldered and double-jointed, with short curly black hair,
and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air
of fun and arrogance.  From his Herculean frame and great powers of
limb he had received the nickname of BROM BONES, by which he was
universally known.  He was famed for great knowledge and skill in
horsemanship, being as dexterous on horseback as a Tartar.  He was
foremost at all races and cock fights; and, with the ascendancy
which bodily strength always acquires in rustic life, was the
umpire in all disputes, setting his hat on one side, and giving
his decisions with an air and tone that admitted of no gainsay or
appeal.  He was always ready for either a fight or a frolic; but
had more mischief than ill-will in his composition; and with all
his overbearing roughness, there was a strong dash of waggish
good humor at bottom.  He had three or four boon companions, who
regarded him as their model, and at the head of whom he scoured
the country, attending every scene of feud or merriment for
miles round.  In cold weather he was distinguished by a fur cap,
surmounted with a flaunting fox's tail; and when the folks at a
country gathering descried this well-known crest at a distance,
whisking about among a squad of hard riders, they always stood by
for a squall.  Sometimes his crew would be heard dashing along
past the farmhouses at midnight, with whoop and halloo, like a
troop of Don Cossacks; and the old dames, startled out of their
sleep, would listen for a moment till the hurry-scurry had
clattered by, and then exclaim, "Ay, there goes Brom Bones
and his gang!"  The neighbors looked upon him with a mixture
of awe, admiration, and good-will; and, when any madcap prank
or rustic brawl occurred in the vicinity, always shook their
heads, and warranted Brom Bones was at the bottom of it.

    This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the
blooming Katrina for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and
though his amorous toyings were something like the gentle
caresses and endearments of a bear, yet it was whispered that she
did not altogether discourage his hopes.  Certain it is, his
advances were signals for rival candidates to retire, who felt no
inclination to cross a lion in his amours; insomuch, that when
his horse was seen tied to Van Tassel's paling, on a Sunday
night, a sure sign that his master was courting, or, as it is
termed, "sparking," within, all other suitors passed by in
despair, and  carried the war into other quarters.

    Such was the formidable rival with whom Ichabod Crane had to
contend, and, considering all things, a stouter man than he
would have shrunk from the competition, and a wiser man would
have despaired.  He had, however, a happy mixture of pliability
and perseverance in his nature; he was in form and spirit like a
supple-jack--yielding, but tough; though he bent, he never broke;
and though he bowed beneath the slightest pressure, yet, the
moment it was away--jerk!--he was as erect, and carried his
head as high as ever.

    To have taken the field openly against his rival would have
been madness; for he was not a man to be thwarted in his amours,
any more than that stormy lover, Achilles.  Ichabod, therefore,
made his advances in a quiet and gently insinuating manner.  Under
cover of his character of singing-master, he made frequent visits
at the farmhouse; not that he had anything to apprehend from the
meddlesome interference of parents, which is so often a
stumbling-block in the path of lovers.  Balt Van Tassel was an
easy indulgent soul; he loved his daughter better even than his
pipe, and, like a reasonable man and an excellent father, let her
have her way in everything.  His notable little wife, too, had
enough to do to attend to her housekeeping and manage her
poultry; for, as she sagely observed, ducks and geese are foolish
things, and must be looked after, but girls can take care of
themselves.  Thus, while the busy dame bustled about the house, or
plied her spinning-wheel at one end of the piazza, honest Balt
would sit smoking his evening pipe at the other, watching the
achievements of a little wooden warrior, who, armed with a sword
in each hand, was most valiantly fighting the wind on the
pinnacle of the barn.  In the mean time, Ichabod would carry on
his suit with the daughter by the side of the spring under the
great elm, or sauntering along in the twilight, that hour so
favorable to the lover's eloquence.

    I profess not to know how women's hearts are wooed and won.
To me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration.
Some seem to have but one vulnerable point, or door of access;
while others have a thousand avenues, and may be captured in a
thousand different ways.  It is a great triumph of skill to gain
the former, but a still greater proof of generalship to maintain
possession of the latter, for man must battle for his fortress at
every door and window.  He who wins a thousand common hearts is
therefore entitled to some renown; but he who keeps undisputed
sway over the heart of a coquette is indeed a hero.  Certain it
is, this was not the case with the redoubtable Brom Bones; and
from the moment Ichabod Crane made his advances, the interests of
the former evidently declined:  his horse was no longer seen tied
to the palings on Sunday nights, and a deadly feud gradually
arose between him and the preceptor of Sleepy Hollow.

    Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in his nature,
would fain have carried matters to open warfare and have settled
their pretensions to the lady, according to the mode of those
most concise and simple reasoners, the knights-errant of yore,--
by single combat; but Ichabod was too conscious of the superior
might of his adversary to enter the lists against him; he
had overheard a boast of Bones, that he would "double the
schoolmaster up, and lay him on a shelf of his own schoolhouse;"
and he was too wary to give him an opportunity.  There was
something extremely provoking in this obstinately pacific
system; it left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of
rustic waggery in his disposition, and to play off boorish
practical jokes upon his rival.  Ichabod became the object of
whimsical persecution to Bones and his gang of rough riders.  They
harried his hitherto peaceful domains; smoked out his singing
school by stopping up the chimney; broke into the schoolhouse at
night, in spite of its formidable fastenings of withe and window
stakes, and turned everything topsy-turvy, so that the poor
schoolmaster began to think all the witches in the country held
their meetings there.  But what was still more annoying, Brom took
all opportunities of turning him into ridicule in presence of his
mistress, and had a scoundrel dog whom he taught to whine in the
most ludicrous manner, and introduced as a rival of Ichabod's, to
instruct her in psalmody.

    In this way matters went on for some time, without producing
any material effect on the relative situations of the contending
powers.  On a fine autumnal afternoon, Ichabod, in pensive mood,
sat enthroned on the lofty stool from whence he usually watched
all the concerns of his little literary realm.  In his hand he
swayed a ferule, that sceptre of despotic power; the birch of
justice reposed on three nails behind the throne, a constant
terror to evil doers, while on the desk before him might be seen
sundry contraband articles and prohibited weapons, detected upon
the persons of idle urchins, such as half-munched apples,
popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of rampant
little paper gamecocks.  Apparently there had been some appalling
act of justice recently inflicted, for his scholars were all
busily intent upon their books, or slyly whispering behind them
with one eye kept upon the master; and a kind of buzzing
stillness reigned throughout the schoolroom.  It was suddenly
interrupted by the appearance of a negro in tow-cloth jacket and
trowsers, a round-crowned fragment of a hat, like the cap of
Mercury, and mounted on the back of a ragged, wild, half-broken
colt, which he managed with a rope by way of halter.  He came
clattering up to the school door with an invitation to Ichabod to
attend a merry-making or "quilting frolic,"  to be held that
evening at Mynheer Van Tassel's; and having delivered his
message with that air of importance, and effort at fine language,
which a negro is apt to display on petty embassies of the kind,
he dashed over the brook, and was seen scampering away up the
hollow, full of the importance and hurry of his mission.

    All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet schoolroom.
The scholars were hurried through their lessons without stopping
at trifles; those who were nimble skipped over half with
impunity, and those who were tardy had a smart application now
and then in the rear, to quicken their speed or help them over a
tall word.  Books were flung aside without being put away on the
shelves, inkstands were overturned, benches thrown down, and the
whole school was turned loose an hour before the usual time,
bursting forth like a legion of young imps, yelping and racketing
about the green in joy at their early emancipation.

    The gallant Ichabod now spent at least an extra half hour at
his toilet, brushing and furbishing up his best, and indeed only
suit of rusty black, and arranging his locks by a bit of broken
looking-glass that hung up in the schoolhouse.  That he might make
his appearance before his mistress in the true style of a
cavalier, he borrowed a horse from the farmer with whom he was
domiciliated, a choleric old Dutchman of the name of Hans Van
Ripper, and, thus gallantly mounted, issued forth like a knight-
errant in quest of adventures.  But it is meet I should, in the
true spirit of romantic story, give some account of the looks and
equipments of my hero and his steed.  The animal he bestrode was a
broken-down plow-horse, that had outlived almost everything but
its viciousness.  He was gaunt and shagged, with a ewe neck, and a
head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were tangled and
knotted with burs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring
and spectral, but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in
it.  Still he must have had fire and mettle in his day, if we may
judge from the name he bore of Gunpowder.  He had, in fact, been a
favorite steed of his master's, the choleric Van Ripper, who was
a furious rider, and had infused, very probably, some of his own
spirit into the animal; for, old and broken-down as he looked,
there was more of the lurking devil in him than in any young
filly in the country.

    Ichabod was a suitable figure for such a steed.  He rode
with short stirrups, which brought his knees nearly up to
the pommel of the saddle; his sharp elbows stuck out like
grasshoppers'; he carried his whip perpendicularly in his hand,
like a sceptre, and as his horse jogged on, the motion of his
arms was not unlike the flapping of a pair of wings.  A small wool
hat rested on the top of his nose, for so his scanty strip of
forehead might be called, and the skirts of his black coat
fluttered out almost to the horses tail.  Such was the appearance
of Ichabod and his steed as they shambled out of the gate of Hans
Van Ripper, and it was altogether such an apparition as is seldom
to be met with in broad daylight.

    It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was
clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery
which we always associate with the idea of abundance.  The forests
had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the
tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes
of orange, purple, and scarlet.  Streaming files of wild ducks
began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the
squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory-
nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the
neighboring stubble field.

    The small birds were taking their farewell banquets.  In the
fullness of their revelry, they fluttered, chirping and
frolicking from bush to bush, and tree to tree, capricious from
the very profusion and variety around them.  There was the honest
cock robin, the favorite game of stripling sportsmen, with its
loud querulous note; and the twittering blackbirds flying in
sable clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker with his crimson
crest, his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the
cedar bird, with its red-tipt wings and yellow-tipt tail and its
little monteiro cap of feathers; and the blue jay, that noisy
coxcomb, in his gay light blue coat and white underclothes,
screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and
pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove.

    As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye, ever open to
every symptom of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the
treasures of jolly autumn.  On all sides he beheld vast store of
apples; some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees; some
gathered into baskets and barrels for the market; others heaped
up in rich piles for the cider-press.  Farther on he beheld great
fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears peeping from their
leafy coverts, and holding out the promise of cakes and hasty-
pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning up
their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects
of the most luxurious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant
buckwheat fields breathing the odor of the beehive, and as he
beheld them, soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty
slapjacks, well buttered, and garnished with honey or treacle,
by the delicate little dimpled hand of Katrina Van Tassel.

    Thus feeding his mind with many sweet thoughts and "sugared
suppositions," he journeyed along the sides of a range of hills
which look out upon some of the goodliest scenes of the mighty
Hudson.  The sun gradually wheeled his broad disk down in the
west.  The wide bosom of the Tappan Zee lay motionless and glassy,
excepting that here and there a gentle undulation waved and
prolonged the blue shadow of the distant mountain.  A few amber
clouds floated in the sky, without a breath of air to move them.
The horizon was of a fine golden tint, changing gradually into a
pure apple green, and from that into the deep blue of the mid-
heaven.  A slanting ray lingered on the woody crests of the
precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater
depth to the dark gray and purple of their rocky sides.  A sloop
was loitering in the distance, dropping slowly down with the
tide, her sail hanging uselessly against the mast; and as the
reflection of the sky gleamed along the still water, it seemed as
if the vessel was suspended in the air.

    It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle of
the Heer Van Tassel, which he found thronged with the pride and
flower of the adjacent country.  Old farmers, a spare leathern-
faced race, in homespun coats and breeches, blue stockings, huge
shoes, and magnificent pewter buckles.  Their brisk, withered
little dames, in close-crimped caps, long-waisted short gowns,
homespun petticoats, with scissors and pincushions, and gay
calico pockets hanging on the outside.  Buxom lasses, almost as
antiquated as their mothers, excepting where a straw hat, a fine
ribbon, or perhaps a white frock, gave symptoms of city
innovation.  The sons, in short square-skirted coats, with rows of
stupendous brass buttons, and their hair generally queued in the
fashion of the times, especially if they could procure an eel-skin
for the purpose, it being esteemed throughout the country as a
potent nourisher and strengthener of the hair.

    Brom Bones, however, was the hero of the scene, having come
to the gathering on his favorite steed Daredevil, a creature,
like himself, full of mettle and mischief, and which no one but
himself could manage.  He was, in fact, noted for preferring
vicious animals, given to all kinds of tricks which kept the
rider in constant risk of his neck, for he held a tractable,
well-broken horse as unworthy of a lad of spirit.

    Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that
burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero, as he entered the
state parlor of Van Tassel's mansion.  Not those of the bevy of
buxom lasses, with their luxurious display of red and white; but
the ample charms of a genuine Dutch country tea-table, in the
sumptuous time of autumn.  Such heaped up platters of cakes of
various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced
Dutch housewives!  There was the doughty doughnut, the tender
oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and
short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family
of cakes.  And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and
pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover
delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and
quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens;
together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-
piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the
motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst--
Heaven bless the mark!  I want breath and time to discuss this
banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my story.
Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as his
historian, but did ample justice to every dainty.

    He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in
proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer, and whose
spirits rose with eating, as some men's do with drink.  He could
not help, too, rolling his large eyes round him as he ate, and
chuckling with the possibility that he might one day be lord of
all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury and splendor.
Then, he thought, how soon he'd turn his back upon the old
schoolhouse; snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper, and
every other niggardly patron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue
out of doors that should dare to call him comrade!

    Old Baltus Van Tassel moved about among his guests with a
face dilated with content and good humor, round and jolly as
the harvest moon.  His hospitable attentions were brief, but
expressive, being confined to a shake of the hand, a slap on the
shoulder, a loud laugh, and a pressing invitation to "fall to,
and help themselves."

    And now the sound of the music from the common room, or
hall, summoned to the dance.  The musician was an old gray-headed
negro, who had been the itinerant orchestra of the neighborhood
for more than half a century.  His instrument was as old and
battered as himself.  The greater part of the time he scraped on
two or three strings, accompanying every movement of the bow with
a motion of the head; bowing almost to the ground, and stamping
with his foot whenever a fresh couple were to start.

    Ichabod prided himself upon his dancing as much as upon his
vocal powers.  Not a limb, not a fibre about him was idle; and to
have seen his loosely hung frame in full motion, and clattering
about the room, you would have thought St. Vitus himself, that
blessed patron of the dance, was figuring before you in person.
He was the admiration of all the negroes; who, having gathered,
of all ages and sizes, from the farm and the neighborhood, stood
forming a pyramid of shining black faces at every door and
window, gazing with delight at the scene, rolling their white
eyeballs, and showing grinning rows of ivory from ear to ear.
How could the flogger of urchins be otherwise than animated and
joyous? The lady of his heart was his partner in the dance, and
smiling graciously in reply to all his amorous oglings; while
Brom Bones, sorely smitten with love and jealousy, sat brooding
by himself in one corner.

    When the dance was at an end, Ichabod was attracted to a
knot of the sager folks, who, with Old Van Tassel, sat smoking
at one end of the piazza, gossiping over former times, and
drawing out long stories about the war.

    This neighborhood, at the time of which I am speaking, was one
of those highly favored places which abound with chronicle and great
men.  The British and American line had run near it during the
war; it had, therefore, been the scene of marauding and infested
with refugees, cowboys, and all kinds of border chivalry.  Just
sufficient time had elapsed to enable each storyteller to dress
up his tale with a little becoming fiction, and, in the
indistinctness of his recollection, to make himself the hero of
every exploit.

    There was the story of Doffue Martling, a large blue-bearded
Dutchman, who had nearly taken a British frigate with an old iron
nine-pounder from a mud breastwork, only that his gun burst at
the sixth discharge.  And there was an old gentleman who shall be
nameless, being too rich a mynheer to be lightly mentioned, who,
in the battle of White Plains, being an excellent master of
defence, parried a musket-ball with a small sword, insomuch that
he absolutely felt it whiz round the blade, and glance off at the
hilt; in proof of which he was ready at any time to show the
sword, with the hilt a little bent.  There were several more that
had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was
persuaded that he had a considerable hand in bringing the war to
a happy termination.

    But all these were nothing to the tales of ghosts and
apparitions that succeeded.  The neighborhood is rich in legendary
treasures of the kind.  Local tales and superstitions thrive best
in these sheltered, long-settled retreats; but are trampled under
foot by the shifting throng that forms the population of most of
our country places.  Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts
in most of our villages, for they have scarcely had time to
finish their first nap and turn themselves in their graves,
before their surviving friends have travelled away from the
neighborhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their
rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon.  This is
perhaps the reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our
long-established Dutch communities.

    The immediate cause, however, of the prevalence of
supernatural stories in these parts, was doubtless owing to the
vicinity of Sleepy Hollow.  There was a contagion in the very air
that blew from that haunted region; it breathed forth an
atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land.  Several
of the Sleepy Hollow people were present at Van Tassel's, and, as
usual, were doling out their wild and wonderful legends.  Many
dismal tales were told about funeral trains, and mourning cries
and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the
unfortunate Major Andr� was taken, and which stood in the
neighborhood.  Some mention was made also of the woman in white,
that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to
shriek on winter nights before a storm, having perished there in
the snow.  The chief part of the stories, however, turned upon the
favorite spectre of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman, who had
been heard several times of late, patrolling the country; and, it
was said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the
churchyard.

    The sequestered situation of this church seems always to
have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits.  It stands on a
knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among
which its decent, whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like
Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement.  A
gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water,
bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the
blue hills of the Hudson.  To look upon its grass-grown yard,
where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that
there at least the dead might rest in peace.  On one side of the
church extends a wide woody dell, along which raves a large brook
among broken rocks and trunks of fallen trees.  Over a deep black
part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown
a wooden bridge; the road that led to it, and the bridge itself,
were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom
about it, even in the daytime; but occasioned a fearful darkness
at night.  Such was one of the favorite haunts of the Headless
Horseman, and the place where he was most frequently encountered.
The tale was told of old Brouwer, a most heretical disbeliever in
ghosts, how he met the Horseman returning from his foray into
Sleepy Hollow, and was obliged to get up behind him; how they
galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp, until they
reached the bridge; when the Horseman suddenly turned into a
skeleton, threw old Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over
the tree-tops with a clap of thunder.

    This story was immediately matched by a thrice marvellous
adventure of Brom Bones, who made light of the Galloping Hessian
as an arrant jockey.  He affirmed that on returning one night from
the neighboring village of Sing Sing, he had been overtaken by
this midnight trooper; that he had offered to race with him for a
bowl of punch, and should have won it too, for Daredevil beat the
goblin horse all hollow, but just as they came to the church
bridge, the Hessian bolted, and vanished in a flash of fire.

    All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which
men talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now
and then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank
deep in the mind of Ichabod.  He repaid them in kind with large
extracts from his invaluable author, Cotton Mather, and added
many marvellous events that had taken place in his native State
of Connecticut, and fearful sights which he had seen in his
nightly walks about Sleepy Hollow.

    The revel now gradually broke up.  The old farmers gathered
together their families in their wagons, and were heard for some
time rattling along the hollow roads, and over the distant hills.
Some of the damsels mounted on pillions behind their favorite
swains, and their light-hearted laughter, mingling with the
clatter of hoofs, echoed along the silent woodlands, sounding
fainter and fainter, until they gradually died away,--and the
late scene of noise and frolic was all silent and deserted.
Ichabod only lingered behind, according to the custom of country
lovers, to have a t�te-�-t�te with the heiress; fully convinced
that he was now on the high road to success.  What passed at this
interview I will not pretend to say, for in fact I do not know.
Something, however, I fear me, must have gone wrong, for he
certainly sallied forth, after no very great interval, with an
air quite desolate and chapfallen.  Oh, these women! these women!
Could that girl have been playing off any of her coquettish tricks?
Was her encouragement of the poor pedagogue all a mere sham to
secure her conquest of his rival? Heaven only knows, not I!
Let it suffice to say, Ichabod stole forth with the air of
one who had been sacking a henroost, rather than a fair lady's
heart.  Without looking to the right or left to notice the scene
of rural wealth, on which he had so often gloated, he went
straight to the stable, and with several hearty cuffs and kicks
roused his steed most uncourteously from the comfortable quarters
in which he was soundly sleeping, dreaming of mountains of corn
and oats, and whole valleys of timothy and clover.

    It was the very witching time of night  that Ichabod,
heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travels homewards, along
the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and
which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon.  The hour was
as dismal as himself.  Far below him the Tappan Zee spread its
dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the
tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under the land.  In
the dead hush of midnight, he could even hear the barking of the
watchdog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so
vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this
faithful companion of man.  Now and then, too, the long-drawn
crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far
off, from some farmhouse away among the hills--but it was like a
dreaming sound in his ear.  No signs of life occurred near him,
but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps
the guttural twang of a bullfrog from a neighboring marsh, as if
sleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in his bed.

    All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in
the afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection.  The night
grew darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the
sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight.  He
had never felt so lonely and dismal.  He was, moreover,
approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost
stories had been laid.  In the centre of the road stood an
enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the
other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark.
Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks
for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising
again into the air.  It was connected with the tragical story of
the unfortunate Andr�, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and
was universally known by the name of Major Andr�'s tree.  The
common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and
superstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill-
starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights,
and doleful lamentations, told concerning it.

    As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to
whistle; he thought his whistle was answered; it was but a blast
sweeping sharply through the dry branches.  As he approached a
little nearer, he thought he saw something white, hanging in the
midst of the tree:  he paused and ceased whistling but, on
looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place where the
tree had been scathed by lightning, and the white wood laid bare.
Suddenly he heard a groan--his teeth chattered, and his knees
smote against the saddle:  it was but the rubbing of one huge
bough upon another, as they were swayed about by the breeze.  He
passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him.

    About two hundred yards from the tree, a small brook crossed
the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by
the name of Wiley's Swamp.  A few rough logs, laid side by side,
served for a bridge over this stream.  On that side of the road
where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts,
matted thick with wild grape-vines, threw a cavernous gloom over
it.  To pass this bridge was the severest trial.  It was at this
identical spot that the unfortunate Andr� was captured, and under
the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen
concealed who surprised him.  This has ever since been considered
a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy
who has to pass it alone after dark.

    As he approached the stream, his heart began to thump; he
summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a
score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across
the bridge; but instead of starting forward, the perverse old
animal made a lateral movement, and ran broadside against the
fence.  Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the
reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with the contrary
foot:  it was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but it
was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a
thicket of brambles and alder bushes.  The schoolmaster now
bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old
Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came
to a stand just by the bridge, with a suddenness that had nearly
sent his rider sprawling over his head.  Just at this moment a
plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear
of Ichabod.  In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the
brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen and towering.  It
stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some
gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller.

    The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with
terror.  What was to be done? To turn and fly was now too late;
and besides, what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin,
if such it was, which could ride upon the wings of the wind?
Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded in
stammering accents, "Who are you?" He received no reply.  He
repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice.   Still there
was no answer.  Once more he cudgelled the sides of the inflexible
Gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary
fervor into a psalm tune.  Just then the shadowy object of alarm
put itself in motion, and with a scramble and a bound stood at
once in the middle of the road.  Though the night was dark and
dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be
ascertained.  He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions,
and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame.  He made no offer
of molestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the
road, jogging along on the blind side of old Gunpowder, who had
now got over his fright and waywardness.

    Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight
companion, and bethought himself of the adventure of Brom Bones
with the Galloping Hessian, now quickened his steed in hopes of
leaving him behind.  The stranger, however, quickened his horse to
an equal pace.  Ichabod pulled up, and fell into a walk, thinking
to lag behind,--the other did the same.  His heart began to sink
within him; he endeavored to resume his psalm tune, but his
parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, and he could not
utter a stave.  There was something in the moody and dogged
silence of this pertinacious companion that was mysterious and
appalling.  It was soon fearfully accounted for.  On mounting a
rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller
in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a
cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was
headless!--but his horror was still more increased on observing
that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was
carried before him on the pommel of his saddle!  His terror rose
to desperation; he rained a shower of kicks and blows upon
Gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give his companion the
slip; but the spectre started full jump with him.  Away, then,
they dashed through thick and thin; stones flying and sparks
flashing at every bound.  Ichabod's flimsy garments fluttered in
the air, as he stretched his long lank body away over his horse's
head, in the eagerness of his flight.

    They had now reached the road which turns off to Sleepy
Hollow; but Gunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead
of keeping up it, made an opposite turn, and plunged headlong
downhill to the left.  This road leads through a sandy hollow
shaded by trees for about a quarter of a mile, where it crosses
the bridge famous in goblin story; and just beyond swells the
green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church.

    As yet the panic of the steed had given his unskilful rider
an apparent advantage in the chase, but just as he had got half
way through the hollow, the girths of the saddle gave way, and he
felt it slipping from under him.  He seized it by the pommel, and
endeavored to hold it firm, but in vain; and had just time to
save himself by clasping old Gunpowder round the neck, when the
saddle fell to the earth, and he heard it trampled under foot by
his pursuer.  For a moment the terror of Hans Van Ripper's wrath
passed across his mind,--for it was his Sunday saddle; but this
was no time for petty fears; the goblin was hard on his haunches;
and (unskilful rider that he was!) he had much ado to maintain
his seat; sometimes slipping on one side, sometimes on another,
and sometimes jolted on the high ridge of his horse's backbone,
with a violence that he verily feared would cleave him asunder.

    An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that
the church bridge was at hand.  The wavering reflection of a
silver star in the bosom of the brook told him that he was not
mistaken.  He saw the walls of the church dimly glaring under the
trees beyond.  He recollected the place where Brom Bones's ghostly
competitor had disappeared.  "If I can but reach that bridge,"
thought Ichabod, "I am safe." Just then he heard the black steed
panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he
felt his hot breath.  Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old
Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the
resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod
cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according
to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone.  Just then he saw the
goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his
head at him.  Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile,
but too late.  It encountered his cranium with a tremendous
crash,--he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder,
the black steed, and the goblin rider, passed by like a whirlwind.

    The next morning the old horse was found without his saddle,
and with the bridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at
his master's gate.  Ichabod did not make his appearance at
breakfast; dinner-hour came, but no Ichabod.  The boys assembled
at the schoolhouse, and strolled idly about the banks of the
brook; but no schoolmaster.  Hans Van Ripper now began to feel
some uneasiness about the fate of poor Ichabod, and his saddle.
An inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation they
came upon his traces.  In one part of the road leading to the
church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of
horses' hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious
speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a
broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was
found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a
shattered pumpkin.

    The brook was searched, but the body of the schoolmaster was
not to be discovered.  Hans Van Ripper as executor of his estate,
examined the bundle which contained all his worldly effects.  They
consisted of  two shirts and a half; two stocks for the neck; a
pair or two of worsted stockings; an old pair of corduroy small-
clothes; a rusty razor; a book of psalm tunes full of dog's-ears;
and a broken pitch-pipe.  As to the books and furniture of the
schoolhouse, they belonged to the community, excepting Cotton
Mather's "History of Witchcraft," a "New England Almanac," and
a book of dreams and fortune-telling; in which last was a sheet of
foolscap much scribbled and blotted in several fruitless attempts
to make a copy of verses in honor of the heiress of Van Tassel.
These magic books and the poetic scrawl were forthwith consigned
to the flames by Hans Van Ripper; who, from that time forward,
determined to send his children no more to school, observing that
he never knew any good come of this same reading and writing.
Whatever money the schoolmaster possessed, and he had received
his quarter's pay but a day or two before, he must have had about
his person at the time of his disappearance.

    The mysterious event caused much speculation at the church
on the following Sunday.  Knots of gazers and gossips were
collected in the churchyard, at the bridge, and at the spot where
the hat and pumpkin had been found.  The stories of Brouwer, of
Bones, and a whole budget of others were called to mind; and when
they had diligently considered them all, and compared them with
the symptoms of the present case, they shook their heads, and
came to the conclusion that Ichabod had been carried off by the
Galloping Hessian.  As he was a bachelor, and in nobody's debt,
nobody troubled his head any more about him; the school was
removed to a different quarter of the hollow, and another
pedagogue reigned in his stead.

    It is true, an old farmer, who had been down to New York on
a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the
ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence
that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that he had left the
neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and Hans Van
Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been suddenly
dismissed by the heiress; that he had changed his quarters to a
distant part of the country; had kept school and studied law at
the same time; had been admitted to the bar; turned politician;
electioneered; written for the newspapers; and finally had been
made a justice of the Ten Pound Court.  Brom Bones, too, who,
shortly after his rival's disappearance conducted the blooming
Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly
knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always
burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which
led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he
chose to tell.

    The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of
these matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited
away by supernatural means; and it is a favorite story often told
about the neighborhood round the winter evening fire.  The bridge
became more than ever an object of superstitious awe; and that
may be the reason why the road has been altered of late years, so
as to approach the church by the border of the millpond.  The
schoolhouse being deserted soon fell to decay, and was reported
to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue and
the plowboy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening,
has often fancied his voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy
psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.