by Arline Schatz
It was my aspirational premise that if I were to live in a community that engulfed its residents with beauty and diversity, I would be embraced by its goodness and become seamlessly welcomed. I never believed myself to be particularly prideful or acquisitive; the exception being my utter and unequivocal pride as pertains to my residency in the Village of Piermont for nearly forty (40) years, albeit in a two (2) family house on the Sparkill Creek, situated under the Route 9W overpass.
I am marginally less enamored by the Piermont of today than I was prior to the Woody Allen filming of the Purple Rose of Cairo and the temporary transformation of Piermont Avenue into a film set. The gradual gentrification of the village has left me nostalgic for the undeveloped foot path to the pier along the Hudson River and the generationally indigenous men fishing along the banks of the river who would generously share Piermont’s history as remembered and told to them.
I miss the pulled clothesline access through the rear window of my house. My favorite task at the end of the work day was retrieving the laundry and enveloping myself in the fragrance of sun-kissed clothing: deep inhalations!
Today, what remains most recognizable about my beloved village is the thrift shop with its faint musty odor that hints of antiquity, the narrow streets barely able to allow for vehicular traffic; Village Hall that posts news of meetings and events on a bulletin board, the marshes mysteriously harboring a fairy tale imagined danger and the juxtaposition of the old and nearly new, both architecturally and peopled.
Alas, I continue to walk, out to the pier on weekdays and marvel at the beauty of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, whose white strands of purity reach towards the heavens and defy their utilitarian purpose. I relish the dirt caked under my fingernails after tending to my plot in the Community Garden that abuts Parelli Park and the river. The succulence of home-grown tomatoes is shockingly indulgent.
Inhibitions aside, I hum old show tunes off-key while seated on a bench memorialized by a patinated plaque celebrating the life of a deceased loved one, drift into a comfortable reverie and find myself absorbed by the musical cacophony of overfed honking ducks seeking handouts, squealing toddlers and off leash dogs splashing at waters’ edge. I am thoroughly nourished by my good fortune.
Arline lives is a retired probation officer who lives in Piermont.
Of herself, she says:
My life has not been a page turner.
I drive in the right lane
and cook on a back burner.
I make no claims of remembering names.
My Cheshire Cat has grown too fat;
as have I.
Bye, bye Miss American Pie.
I close my eyes when meditating;
as I’ve been taught, for naught.
I’ll continue endlessly contemplating.
I’m in no rush,
no need to fuss.
I think I’ll take the stairs.
Words and Images is a column that features the work of students from Bill Batson’s sketch logging class at the Learning Collaborative.
Thanks to Editorial Assistance Bonnie Timm.