Hello! My name is Leela Stalzer. As a native to Ulster County and as a frequent visitor to Dutchess, I was feeling as if everything in our class was going to be at least mostly familiar. I attended high school in Kingston, which is one of only six cities in what we are calling the Hudson Valley, and I’ve been to Montgomery Place, the Mohonk Mountain House (I think my parents had their wedding reception there), the Bread Alone Bakery, Woodstock, Fishkill (my grandmother lives there), DIA Beacon, the Clearwater Festival, the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, Upstate Films, FDR’s house, the Vanderbilt Mansions, and many of the other places mentioned in class and in the articles we have been reading.
However, the trip to Amenia made me realize that although I’ve had all these experiences in the Hudson Valley, living there has made me taken both its apparently uncommon beauty and its attractive culture for granted. I am also sure I will continue being surprised by how much I don’t know and how much I just didn’t realize about the place I consider home.
Please ignore the terrible selfie, and direct your attention instead to the other pictures, which evoke Amenia’s sense of beautiful simplicity. It seems to me that those who run the farmers’ markets, the vintage shops, and the drive-in theaters in the towns of the Hudson Valley hope to enjoy this simplicity, along with feelings of leisure, in their everyday lives. This is also, I think, part of what draws so many people to areas like Amenia.