Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sleepy Hollow (in The Book of Lost Fragrances)

I mentioned in this post that Sleepy Hollow appears in M.J. Rose's The Book of Lost Fragrances. It's focus is on the famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery:
Forty-five minutes later the aroma of towering pines and newly blooming redbud trees informed Jac they'd reached the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, nestled in the lush Hudson River Valley. [...]
For the last 160 years, all of her mother's family had been buried in this Victorian cemetery that sat high on a ridge overlooking the Pocantico River. Having so many relatives in this overgrown memorial park made her feel strangely at home. [...] (28-29)
Oh, how this passage perplexes me particularly since, according to her bio, M.J. Rose lives in Connecticut and so could have easily visited the landmark.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is indeed "nestled in the lush Hudson River Valley," but while said valley has some pines, they do not dominate the landscape and scent the air (particularly when driving on route 9, the only way to get to the cemetery). In fact the trees in the area are primarily deciduous. As for redbud trees, I've never noticed them, but I will pay attention come spring. Apparently they are native to the area though.

The Pocantico River "meander[s] gently just a few steps away" from part of the cemetery, but the cemetery isn't high on a ridge overlooking anything (well, the large mausoleum overlooks route 9, I suppose).

The "overgrown memorial park" combined with mentions of winding roads that I didn't include in the quote above, makes the cemetery sound enormous. It's 85 acres, which isn't particularly big especially for a suburban cemetery. By way of comparison Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is 400 acres, Forest Lawn in Buffalo is 250 acres, and Arlington is 624 acres.

I'm sure that I sound unnecessarily critical and nickpicky here, but I'm just disappointed (and I did succeed in resisting the urge to pick at the use of "Victorian"). It wouldn't have been difficult to write a more accurate description of the cemetery and its environs and that would have made all the difference to me.

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