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Couple finds peaceful retreat in Cold Brook

By Keith Hunt

(WKTV) - In Upstate New York, the Adirondacks cover more than 6 million acres of protected forest.

Here in Cold Brook, a couple has been working more than 40 years to protect and share forest of their own.

Just north of Utica in the Town of Cold Brook, in the middle of a nature preserve, if you listen carefully you can hear a rainbow. That magic comes from the duo of Harp and Harmony. Tim and Peggy Spencer Behrendt carved their pot of gold at the end of this road, and it's anything but a dead end. 

"After college, we came to live here and our lifestyle was very stressful physically," said Peggy Spencer Behrendt of the Shawangunk Nature Preserve. "It was very cold and we had a lot of financial stress, so I lost my voice.

"Then I discovered the harp."

Spencer Behrendt discovered the harp after watching a woman perform.

"The harpist who played beautiful music had only one hand," she said. "Her left hand was prosthesis.

"She helped me find a harp shop, and I started teaching myself harp. It has replaced my voice."

Their music is only part of the story. Over the past 40 years, the couple has expanded their three-and-a-half-acre niche into a 350-plus-acre playground for nature, which includes hiking trails, retreats, crafts and educational workshops covering everything from feeding birds to playing the harmonica.

"It's magical here in the spring," said Spencer Behrendt. "You can hear birds calling...singing. And that, with the harp and the other instruments, it's just ethereal."

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