Auspices

Sitta carolinensisOn an otherwise empty platform of the Ardsley-on-Hudson train station, this White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) lay dead, probably a victim of collision with the windows overlooking the Hudson. Sitta carolinensisIt was a day for symbolism. We saw eagles and hawks in the sky, foretelling what exactly (this probably depended, for the ancient Romans, on how much you were tipping the Augers) I couldn’t say. We saw a deer, with more points on his antlers than I’ve ever seen in person, shock-still on a lawn; then it bolted, crossing the path in front of us, just behind a runner who was wearing headphones. A running deer is a crashing, clamorous thing, but this running human missed it completely. Which is too bad, since she was much closer than we were. Nate was the only one of us to get his binoculars on the animal, which looked like it had been wounded in the belly. The Wounded Stag. This inspired me to muse about how alien the medieval imagination seems now, using Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as my text, and wondering how odd our imagination will seem a thousand years hence.LyndhurstOn the Lyndhurst grounds (seen above a few days later from the river), an army of scarecrows was marching on the ghost of Jay Gould. We ducked under a massive weeping beech complex; there is also one in front of Gould’s mausoleum in Wood Lawn. Inside the “castle,” originally built for a mayor of New York, was a Halloween display. Through the windows, I saw what looked like a Tippi Heydren-inspired scene from The Birds.

Then we walked by the Armour-Stiner House in Irvington, an octagon house, from the brief vogue for them in mid-19th century, turned into Carpenter’s Gothick Roman-domed Willy Wonka fantasy. What a spectacle, especially amid all the local mansions, including some inexplicable ones roofed in southwestern tiles. Descending to the Ardsley train station, we looked up to see a pair of Ravens harassed by a falcon, while, higher above them, another Red-tailed hawk made circles in the sky.

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