Down the line in New Hamburg
When I was in New York we took a train ride upstate to the town of Beacon, where there’s an astonishing gallery of enormous art. I missed the stop as I left my phone on the train, and ended up 10 minutes up the line. It was a pretty brisk day to lurk on a station for half an hour, so here are a few impressions of the riverside town of New Hamburg in upstate New York.
The whole place is eerily quiet save the clanking wind chimes hanging in every porch. A US flag on every house, every post box, visible through every gap between trees and roofs, flapping in the breeze and opening and closing chinks of blinding winter sunlight. Halloween decorations and voting signs for the November 8th elections are ubiquitous (and almost interchangeable). Most of the houses are a strangely picturesque white clapboard, with one building down the end of the road sticking out - the peeling paint of a converted yellow bell tower with light shining straight through from the stained glass on the other side.
New Hamburg must be beautiful in the summer. The deck chairs out on balconies and porches attest as much, with mesh porch doors already standing open or half closed. NYC’s crime rate hasn’t reached this town. The autumn colours are more pronounced here - reds and deep ochres compared to New York’s faded yellows. I find myself wondering whether it’s rude to walk in this silent midday town, despite the thunder of freight trains from the opposite bank of the Hudson travelling across the water. Silhouettes of figures are visible in the sailing club perched on the harbour, although all the boats are packed away for winter. Basketball hoops. Mail boxes. More US flags.
I stop in front of a tiny episcopalian church on the waterfront whose door I try, but it’s locked. St Nicholas’s. Incongruous next to a building bedecked in skeletons and pumpkins, opposite a white plywood front that has renamed itself “Witch House” for the holidays. A swing covered in cobwebs creaks in the wind.
I return to the station. People are early for the train. The tracks bend away into autumnal greenery. I buy a banana.