By Mitchell Parsons Photos by Mitchell Parsons
All photos © mitchellparsons.com

It was this time of year when I was at a friend’s art show in Brooklyn where I met “Taxi”. Tall and beautiful and dressed in black, an ex model turned Circus performer from Virginia. For privacy sake I’m calling her “Taxi”. After a few hours of being lost in conversation Taxi suddenly realized it was almost midnight and if she were to catch her 1am Metro North train from Grand Central Station then she would have to leave immediately. She was staying at a relative’s along the Hudson while visiting New York and wasn’t sure which subway to catch to get back to Manhattan, so I offered to accompany her.

I know what you’re thinking so stop it! I’m a gentleman… 😉

When we got to Grand Central I decided that I too would take the Metro North rather than my usual #4 train. I rarely used the Metro North and didn’t pause to consider the fact that there might be more than one Metro line going north. I finally took that pause approximately 20 minutes into the trip when nothing seemed to look familiar. I had gotten onto the Hudson Line with Taxi rather than the Harlem Line that I should have taken, WHOOPS! Taxi suggested I get off at her stop far up on the Hudson as her car was parked close by and she would give me a ride home. Great! Problem solved and besides, I was enjoying our conversation. When we were in Taxi’s car on the way south to my place, with The Doors coming from the stereo, at 2:30 in the morning Taxi turned and asked me,

“Have you ever been to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery?”
“Uh, No”
“Do you want to go?”
“Yes”

We arrived at the front gates of the cemetery right at 3am, “The Witching Hour” as some would call it. Of course it’s locked up over night, but it’s easy to walk in from the side, past the Old Dutch Church. This was the first time I’ve ever explored a graveyard in the middle of the night and for it to be this particular one was very magical. We walked through, looking at whatever statues we could see considering our only source of light was filtered through the trees from the moon. It was extremely dark, but that just made it more fun and sometimes a little chilling, as the macabre stone faces of random statues would form before us in the dark. Their blank eyes sometimes seemed as if they were looking at us or looking at something in the dark that only they could see. Of course I expected something to jump out at any minute, not necessarily a horse with a headless rider, but it was impossible to feel like it was only the two of us in that darkness, among the tombstones and the statues and the silence.

We had explored for about half an hour before we decided to just sit and listen. It was so quiet and peaceful with only the faint sound of a car passing by in the distance and the trickle of the Pocantico River below us. We sat there for approximately ten minutes when suddenly our heads snapped in the same direction where a small shadow about 3 feet high went fleetingly behind a row of old grey headstones just down the slope from us. Quickly we both went running down there trying to pierce the dark to see what it was and where it went, but whatever it was it seemed to have gone or it was lost to us in the pitch black of the night. Suddenly to our left something moved quickly through the grass and we braced ourselves for whatever it was … A Skunk scurried between the headstones and down the hill and that’s when we decided it was time to go.

The next day, in mid afternoon I received an excited text message from Taxi with a photo attached. It so happened that Taxi was too curious about the spot where we saw the shadow and so went back to explore that particular area. She had spent a few minutes searching around when suddenly she was face on with a large headstone with the last name in large lettering inscribed across the top that read … PARSONS.

My family history, the Parsons history shows the family had settled in Northern New York and Massachusetts in the early 1600’s from England. Mary Bliss Parsons being one of them was tried and acquitted 3 times in the Boston Witch Trials…

I go back up the Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow as often as I can. It’s beautiful there and it brings me a certain kind of peace. I can see myself settling there one day.

“If ever I should wish for a retreat, whither I might steal from the world, and its distractions,… I know of none more promising than this little valley.” – Washington Irving

I know Taxi is there from time to time. Whispering past the graveyard in her little red car, The Doors blasting from the stereo.

Maybe one day you will find yourself passing through Sleepy Hollow and you will see a tall man dressed in black and carrying a large camera. Maybe he will notice you driving by. Or a little red car will pass by you and you will wonder if that’s Taxi. Maybe you will find yourself wandering the grounds of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in the pitch black of the night, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the sound of silence, looking for your own legend… and just maybe you’ll find it …

Happy Halloween

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