There are places on our planet that are very special, even magical. Usually found over underground rivers and near mineral springs, these places have been used for healing, rest or simply retreats from cities and civilization. Magnetic lay lines have been mapped all over the world, and ancient sacred places are found on them. Where they cross, people have built iconic structures like pyramids, stone circles, temples. Or bath houses.
People are drawn to these places by some inner magnet, and feel more whole, more open, more creative there. They also feel more at home, as if they belong.
Sharon Springs is one of those places. Known since early times by the indigenous people as a place of healing waters, it has drawn those who seek to heal body and spirit as well as a place to blossom.
It is a fertile space for growing things. Schoharie County was known as “the Breadbasket of the Revolution,” and Gen. Washington paid his troops with bread from our grains and beer made with our hops.
Today, Sharon Springs is experiencing a flowering of new residents, partly because of the stardust generated by several local endeavors. (Stardust happens, but not everywhere.) The Fabulous Beekman Boys’ reality TV series on two channels (and the possibility of a third season) along with their winning “The Amazing Race,” is an international fan magnet, and another new resident is the star of a home show on A&E. An organic dairy farm was featured in a prize-winning documentary, and other producers make yogurt, cheese and nationally ranked muesli.
Among our residents are an editor of Architectural Digest, a recording company executive, two world-renowned sculptors, a weaver who has made authentic fabrics for countless movies and TV shows (she made Sally Fields’ shawl and other cloth for “Lincoln”), a hand-block-print wallpaper store that makes custom and historic wallpapers (featured in the January World of Interiors and many other design magazines), Broadway actors/singers/dancers/directors/musicians, our very own dance studio and art school, jazz and classical musicians who compose, arrange, perform and teach here and all over New York.
We have award-winning artists and authors, a bookbinder, painters and photographers, furniture builders and home decor, garden and graphic designers, and our 2012 Victorian Holiday Festival was just named one of the five best in New York!
And that’s just the ones I know about. Why did all these people come here? They give lots of reasons, mostly that it just felt like the right place to be. And more keep moving here every year.
Circle of life
Shoveling out the chicken coop the other day, I thought about the circle of lie — chickens (the best pest management system there is) eat bugs, greens and grains, scratch the soil into a smooth loam, lay golden-yolked eggs and provide rich “stardust” for the gardens.
Then on their retirement, we have them over for dinner. Nothing is wasted, plus these tiny modern-day dinosaurs provide endless entertainment in between chick and chicken soup. All in all, a well-balanced system, requiring only that we do a lot of shoveling.
This same natural symbiosis occurs in communities, enhanced by the magnetism of the underground springs and rich creative soil of our town. People who visit feel this; and people who live here blossom. We have stardust in our soil, wellness in our waters, and the palette of all our products pleases any palate with food for the body and food for the soul. There are even those who believe our planet was seeded from the cosmos, that we are born of stardust. What a lovely thought.
The art of farming and the nurturing of the arts are, I think, the most basic human activities. The earliest cave paintings tell us much about the people who made them; the daubs of color outlining their hands say, “I was here. I made this.” And isn’t that a good definition of art? Then when other people see it and make their own, that’s spreading the stardust around a little, and that’s always a good idea.
Karen Cookson lives in Sharon Springs and is a regular contributor to the Sunday Gazette.