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Revelations of a Big City Boy

In 2011, I moved north to be with my now-husband, after 21 years in Atlanta. I’m a city person, so trading The Big Peach for The Big Apple was no problem. “But just to be clear,” I told him, “it’s lovely that you also have a house in Hudson. But I’m not making this enormous change to live in a burg of 6,700 people.”

We’re both freelancers, so our moves between Manhattan and Hudson had no regular pattern. They could even be spontaneous, like that morning during my first winter up north. He was away. A blizzard was approaching. I thought, I want to watch it there, where it will fall in silence, and stay clean. I was on my way in minutes. Snow began falling as the train passed Poughkeepsie. There were two soft inches underfoot by the time I got off here and walked up hushed Union Street to — well — home.

Silence and solitude are one thing I love about Hudson. They’re not constant, but they’re available. It’s easy to be the only soul on Promenade Hill, the park at the foot of Warren Street; then that magnificent vista across the river to the Catskills can be yours alone. On winter evenings you can look both ways along any street and not see a thing in motion.

Eventually, we realized that the cost of maintaining our apartment equalled 100 hotel nights a year in Manhattan. Where we didn’t need to be anyway. So we moved up full time. I was ambivalent. But here’s the other thing I love about this place: the activity.

That’s the cultural life — rich, affordable or free, and mostly in walking distance. It’s the weekend hubbub, which can be at least as entertaining as it is annoying if you get off on people watching. And it’s the easy social life, with the weird and wonderful characters who are your neighbors. Trust me: people-wise, this ain’t your typical burg of 6,700.

The social life can be a problem. I can’t go out the door now without bumping into people I know. I’ve tried keeping to the alleys, but others had the same idea. Okay, forget anonymity. But there are always spots, right in town, reachable on foot or bike, to be alone. And those still winter evenings — which I often as not savor now while strolling home from spending good times with friends.

Jonathan Lerner, a contributing editor to Landscape Architecture Magazine, chairs Hudson’s Conservation Advisory Council. His 2017 memoir Swords in the Hands of Children: Reflections of an American Revolutionary is published by OR Books.


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