The drive through the Hudson River Valley Heritage Park via Rt. 87 N was breathtaking as our van careened between the wide expanse of large, forested mountains reaching up into the colossal white-and-dark clouds hovering overhead as the sun peaked out from time-to-time. One feels a delightful freshness as the yellow-green leaves flourish and overflow from the trees.
Suddenly, I noticed a large sign blurt out from the serene landscape on my right, “Storm King Art Center” as we swept along. I said to Ted,” We just passed Storm King on our right.” Several years ago, I accompanied Ted to a special musical program and supper at Storm King hosted by his friend and craft colleague, Helen Drutt English, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who had married H. Peter Stern, the co-founder of Storm King. It was a beautiful gathering of insightful and gifted people.
We crossed the Hudson River via Rt. 84 East barely crawling with heavy-duty traffic at 3 pm. With our slow movement across the huge bridge, we were able to see the remarkable body of water beneath us. It was deep and reaching out to both shores with many small boats upon it. My eyes could not believe the scope of this even-continuing interaction of mountain land, shore, river, and sky. How could God create such beauty and wonder? This must have been what Margaret Fuller felt as she saw and experienced the Transcendental wonder there at Fishkill Landing.
As we drove down Rt. 9D to Beacon, we turned left onto Main Street, quickly acknowledging in the turn on our right the Beacon Visitors Center run by the Chamber of Commerce. This is the site for Saturday’s marker dedication. Since we had arrived early due to the impeccable and confident directions of a male volunteer at the NY Thruway’s rest stop, Ted and I parked on Main Street and looked in the shops. There is a remarkable renaissance occurring in small town America, and Beacon is evidence of this. Artists’ and craftsperson’s studios and unique small businesses are catering to the locals and tourists. It was beautiful to interact with people friendly and passionate about their work and businesses.
We drove back to the Beacon Visitors Center to see just where the Margaret Fuller marker will be placed. As we looked around, finding the Center was closed, a small woman wearing a school crossing guard uniform with blazing orange vest and carrying a red stop sign walked up to us and stated affirmatively as she had read our searching body language, “That’s where the marker will be placed for the ceremony Saturday.” She invited us inside and opened the Visitors Center for us. This devoted and most gracious and hospitable woman is Carmen Johnson, who told us that “I run the Visitors Center with the most devoted volunteers.” She showed us the marvelous Margaret Fuller display on the wall that the City and Historical Society placed there under her guidance. Carmen makes sure that all the people who come in for information and assistance are well-taken-care-of. She treats you with a heart of gold and is devoted to this town.
Carmen asked us pointblank, “Can you guess what business in town revitalized Beacon?” Ted and I both shrugged our shoulders. Confident and alive, Carmen responded,”Dia, the Art Museum. Sixty to eighty thousand people visit Dia every year.” She continued that this museum was full of all modern art. Suddenly, I realized that when Ted and I visited Storm King Art Center on another occasion, we also went up river to Dia. We had been here before not knowing that this was the place where Margaret Fuller had written ‘Woman in the Nineteenth Century.” We had been so close.
Carmen will be at her post at 9 am on Saturday at the Beacon Visitors Center to do her best for all the folks coming to celebrate the dedication of the Margaret Fuller Historical Marker and all those who just come in the door to get to know Beacon and its myriad offerings.
This evening after supper, we followed Carmen’s advice to go see the Fishkill Creek Falls along East Main Street. They are phenomenal! Margaret Fuller must have been pleased with their mighty roar and sheer drop! They are a must-see. And it was too early to see the purple lights highlighting their intense energy in the night. Just standing on the Fishkill Creek Bridge over the falling water made me feel the surge and vibration in the bridge’s structure. The power and force of this water is spectacular! You feel it. You know it.
Yes, Margaret must have loved the Nature here.