Sense of Place Beyond My Home Located in Sleepy Hollow, New York – Adventuring into Rockwood Hall Estate

Getting lost on the criss-crossing horse

This estate is a thousand acre park that’s located behind the hospital, where a lot of family and friends were born, that’s a short walk away from my house. My house was built by my grandfather and it’s been passed onto my father. Within me, this has developed a deep connection to the land and my local surroundings. My family also has the last privately owned forested land in my neighborhood, Philipsburg Manor. My love for my home intertwines with this forested escape. It’s full of scenic views that relaxes me and I love to bring my dog for walks when she’s feeling up for them. Her name is Anika and she’s over twelve years old, so sometimes it’s too cold outside for her. She’s a mix between a husky, collie, german shepherd, and more that we don’t know about; a beautiful mutt. Her connection and love to run around the castle-like walls and long fields, makes me fall deeper in love with this place.

This estate used to be home to John Rockefeller’s brother, William Rockefeller. It overlooks the curvatures of Hook Mountain and Rockland Lake State Park. When dusk is nearing and the sunset kisses the skyline, it creates a spectacular sight that can be viewed virtually in all open areas that aren’t blocked by trees. These trees consist mostly of hardwoods with a couple conifers like eastern hemlock that stick out every so often. The stone walls indicate that their might have been sheep grazing in this area. Nonetheless, it’s a haven full of deer, birds, snakes, hawks, reptiles, and rodents. There’s a path that connects to the Rockefeller State Park alongside Stone Barns, which leads into more nature walks.

Despite this beauty, it has lots of noise pollution with the MTA train line running right through the coast line between the Hudson River and the park. It’s upsetting to see how urbanization and it’s sprawl has affected this ecosystem. Since I’ve left for UVM, a nearby brownfield, where General Motors used to be located, has been in development to become a strip mall. This will disrupt the peaceful escape the lighthouse provides, located between the edge of construction and the river. To add on, this is going to add onto the placeless-ness within my town already and drive out lower income families from rising property taxes in riverside areas. It’s a sad endless cycle that I’ve had to see occur in many locations throughout my lifetime. This has made me develop a clear interpretation of my morals and beliefs. I am fully able to access my emotions when confronted with issues presented around me not only at home, but at Rockwood, and in my new home at the University of Vermont, where I frequent. It makes me feel more healthy when I have outdoor places to escape to wherever I am living in the moment. It’s allows for a freeing feeling to rush throughout my soul. This is my home and I care about what is happening to it. I care about the natural areas I live near, even if no one else can see beyond their expansive urban sprawl lens.