“A fine autumnal day” in Sleepy Hollow

Tuesday was as off day for the World Series as the teams traveled back to Boston from St. Louis (Go Sox!). My little girl was thrilled that there was finally a night with no baseball on TV and she could sneak in an episode of Spongebob after she finished her reading and then went to bed. So on the night before we would all five be gathered together in our living room to watch the Red Sox clinch the World Series at Fenway, I decided to read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. I read a little more than the first half of the short story that night and will finish the rest tonight after watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, helping the kids eat a little of their candy, and shutting off the front porch light and blowing out the pumpkin candles in order to enjoy the rest of the (hopefully) quiet All Hallows Eve.

It was at the point that I stopped Tuesday night that I came across an almost idyllic description of autumn and wanted to share it with you all. Ichabod Crane has been invited to attend a merry-making or “quilting frolic” that evening at the Van Tassel’s. Having spent some time to look his very best and then borrowing a patron’s broken down plow-horse, Crane set out for the home of the girl who had caught his eye: Katrina Van Tassel.

When I read these four short paragraphs I am able to put myself seamlessly into that autumnal day. It’s a wonderful piece of descriptive writing by Irving.

Happy Halloween everyone, as well as All Saints Day on Friday and All Souls Day on Saturday.

Oh, and GO SOX!


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.

Autumn Day by Josh Haftel courtesy theverge.com

Autumn Day by Josh Haftel courtesy theverge.com


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