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Our Lady of Cold Spring

Our Lady of Cold Spring

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Published by davidwalters
I kicked myself for being such a fool to walk away from such a charming woman, obviously the woman of my dreams!
I kicked myself for being such a fool to walk away from such a charming woman, obviously the woman of my dreams!

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Published by: davidwalters on Apr 08, 2013
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06/04/2013

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Our Lady of Cold Spring, William Bartlett 1840
 
OUR LADY OF COLD SPRING
 BYDAVID ARTHUR WALTERS"The Hudson bends out from Crow-Nest into a small bay; and, inthe lap of the crescent thus formed, lies snug and sheltered, thelittle village of Cold Spring. It is not much of a place for itsbuildings, history, or business; but it has its squire and post-master, its politics and scandal, and a long disappointedambition to become a regular landing-place for the steamers.Then there are cabals between the rival ferrymen, on which theinhabitants divide; the vote for the president, on which they
 
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agree (for Van Buren); and the usual religious sects, with theusual schisms. The Presbyterians and Methodists, as usual,worship in very ugly churches; and the Catholics, as usual, in avery picturesque and beautiful one."It is a pity (picturesquely speaking) that the boatmen on theriver are not Catholics; it would be so pretty to see them shortensail off Our Lady of Cold Spring, and uncover for an Ave-Maria.This little chapel, so exquisitely situated on the bluff overlookingthe river, reminds me of a hermit's oratory and cross which isperched similarly in the shelter of a cliff on the desolate coast of Sparta. I was on board a frigate, gliding slowly up the Ægean,and clinging to the shore for a land-wind, when I descried thewhite cross at a distance of about half a mile, strongly relievedagainst the dark rock in its rear. As we approached, the smallcrypt and altar became visible; and, at the moment the shippassed, a tall monk, with a snow-white beard, stepped forth likean apparition upon the cliffs, and spread out his arms to blessus. In the midst of the intense solitude of the Ægean, with not ahuman dwelling to be seen on the whole coast from Moron toNapoli, the effect of this silent benediction was almostsupernatural. He remained for five minutes in this attitude, hislong cowl motionless in the still air, and his head slowly turningto the ship as she drew fast round the little promontory on hercourse.I would suggest to Our Lady of Cold Spring, that a niche underthe portico of her pretty chapel, with a cross to be seen from theriver by day, and a lamp by night, would make at least a catholicimpression on the passer by, though we are not all children of St. Peter..." - William H. Bartlett (1840)Our Lady of Cold Spring Chapel was built in 1834 to serve the West PointFoundry workers. Bishop Dubois consecrated the chapel as St. Mary's,whereupon it became the first Catholic church in the Hudson area as well asthe first one beyond Manhattan in New York. It overlooks the Hudson Riverat the South End of Market Street, Cold Spring, New York, and is available toall faiths for recitals, weddings and special events (914-265-2781).
 
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Cold Spring is a quaint and lovely village where beleaguered New Yorkersand other in-the-know visitors find respite on weekends, enjoying the manybed-and-breakfasts and historic towns in the area during their sojourns.Others maintain second homes there; a number of local residents commuteby automobile and by rail to jobs in New York City.Since I did not have a car in Manhattan and had let my driver's licenseexpire, I sought out pleasant getaways close to train stations. I eventuallydiscovered the secret of Cold Spring, that it was a perfect destination for aday trip. I would read magazines on the train and enjoy the views; sit besidethe river after arriving; walk around the village; have a pint of ale and asandwich at a pub; tour the old buildings; take photographs; have anotherpint of ale; wonder what it would be like to live there; and so on; then Iwould head back to the train station for the return trip.The chapel of Our Lady of Cold Spring is just across from the train station. Isauntered around the grounds during my last jaunt because the nextManhattan-bound train was not due for another hour. I had not the faintestidea of the nature or history of the place. A young woman wearing a strawhat came along the path carrying a large basket of flowers; she was a floriston her way to the chapel—a wedding ceremony was to be held there sometime later. She was not alarmed to encounter a city boy decked out in ablack leather jacket and cap wandering around alone on the desertedgrounds. We struck up a conversation; I accompanied her to the chapel,wherein she left her flowers. We sat down on a step and gazed out over thedreamy Hudson, chatting aimlessly. Then I remembered my train—it was toarrive momentarily—so I hastily excused myself and hurried to the trainstation, where I kicked myself for being such a fool to walk away from sucha charming woman, obviously the woman of my dreams!Opportunities are rare, and I seize them rarely because I do not recognizethem until it is too late. Now perhaps the gentle lady with the flowers wasnot the opportunity she seems to me in retrospect, but I imagine she was.And so was Cold Spring: I gave up my Manhattan position and took upresidence half-way around the world in what I thought would be paradise,then realized I had left paradise behind. Paradise had been right in front of me. To wit: keep the job and the tiny rent-controlled studio in franticManhattan; buy a humble writer's abode in Cold Spring; in short, have thebest of both worlds.

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