The Heart of the Hearth

The heart of Sharon Springs is the American Hotel. It is, often literally, the sole beacon of light rising from the bottom of Main Street. Staying there, one feels both welcomed and cared for, pampered and protected. From its cozy pub corner to the inviting chairs around the stove of the living room, it invites any and all. ‘Rest here’ it beckons, ‘Cheers!’ it cajoles, ‘Relax and enjoy’ it subtly demands.

The fruits of Fall have been pleasingly placed all around the main room, and a cozier place to spend this Halloween weekend could scarcely be conjured. I find a seat at the end of the bar and order a traditional martini, very dry with olives. A small television flickers in the background, foretelling the tracking of Hurricane Sandy, and a psychic sits beside me foretelling her own tales.

A few political ads flash across the screen, and under her breath I hear her say how much she hates Republicans. I mention my consternation at having passed a number of Romney/Ryan ads along the lawns of rural New York State. She says she doesn’t want to reveal what will happen with the election, only that the country needs to reach the bottom before it can build itself up, eventually admitting that she thinks we’ll be under Romney and Ryan. She adds ominously that she’s glad she’s past the point of menopause, otherwise she’d lose all her rights. It is not exactly reassuring, and though she qualifies herself by saying that psychics are only right 85 percent of the time (and she hopes she’s wrong), my mind is unsettled and bothered by her prediction.

Luckily we’re ensconced at a place of peace, and while some credit must be given to the impeccably mixed martini before me, much of what allows me to relax again is the atmosphere of the American Hotel. An affable swirl of friendly activity surrounds us, one in which guests are instantly assimilated into the warm light and contagious camaraderie.

This is one of those idyllic places of the world, where it feels like we’re delving deeper into a past that might have existed only in some happy imagination.

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