Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Haunting

Now, I've never believed in ghosts, but that doesn't mean I haven't experienced some spooky things. When I first moved back to Iowa as a young doctor, the first house that I bought had been built in a woods, with no yard, just trees growing thickly all around the house, with a long, winding driveway that led out to an unlit, dead end street. The odd thing about that house was that there was a cement sidewalk extending straight out from the back door, into the middle of the woods, and it just ended in front of a huge oak tree. There was nothing out there, and no seeming purpose to this sidewalk. Well, a few weeks after I moved in, my nearest neighbor stopped by to say hello, and in the course of conversation, asked if I knew that the fellow who had owned the woods before had committed suicide; it seemed one day he just walked out into the woods with a rope, and hung himself from the large oak tree which was at the end of the sidewalk to my back door. I used to tell guests that if someone knocked at the back door, don't answer! I was a young single fellow then, and must confess I used that story to get young, blonde fluffies to snuggle close in front of the fire.
The place we live in now is also somewhat isolated, but probably only haunted by the plants I've killed in the garden, though our neighbor girl, Alex, might beg to differ. Her mom, Kim, has taken care of our cats sometimes when we go on vacation, and once when Alex was about seven, she decided that she was old enough to feed them, so we showed her what to do. The two cats could let themselves into our attached greenhouse through a small pet door, so each morning Alex would walk down the hill and fill their double bowl with dry cat food from a large plastic jug that we also left in the greenhouse, and fill their water bowl. The first day everything worked fine, and Alex thought she was really hot stuff doing this all by herself. The second morning when she came down, and went in the greenhouse, the cat bowl was just gone! She looked all over and no bowl; she didn't know whether to be afraid we'd be mad that she lost the bowl or to be upset that someone was playing a trick on her, but she went into the house and got the other, identical bowl, and filled it with food from the jug. The NEXT morning when she came down, the whole JUG of cat food was gone! She ran up the hill, yelling "Mommm!", and wouldn't come near the place again, so her mom had to come down and feed the cats until we got back. We never did find the cat bowl, but about six months later I found the lidless, empty food jug down in the ravine, where the racoon who had drug it through the small cat door, had taken off the lid, and had a picnic.

Great story. Your place sounds wonderful!
Thanks Neena,
I should report that I did have one more scary thing happen just this month: I got our property tax bill!
I figure if there are hauntings, surely our place should have them. An old house site in the fairy ring, completely with partly filled-in dug well, old daffodils, surely no less than 50 or 60 years old. Thicken the atmosphere with the nearest neighbors being about a quarter-mile away, spice it up with our house being in the middle of the property way out of sight of anything. Haven't seen or sensed a thing but I could be incomparably insensitive :-)

There was one spooky though mundane event one night - a friend and I had my telescope out, a 12.5" dob, and heard rustlings in the woods. We went down the steps and shined the flashlight into the woods and about a dozen pairs of eyes looked back at us. A pack of wild dogs, I presume.

No, there was one other event, occurred one afternoon when I was weeding the back area. I looked up and there was a red fox watching me, showing no evidence of concern, just interest. I got up, and he moved a bit away, sat down and grinned at me. I moved toward him, and he pranced a dozen yards away, sat down and looked back at me again. We repeated this performance a half-dozen times until he was deep in the woods, and then he took off, tired of the game I suppose.

(Yes, I am aware of rabies, and this concern was in my mind as foxes are particularly prone. Still I played the game. It was noteworthy.)
Foxes are funny critters; usually so skittish, but we had one once, eating mulberries off the cement driveway, who just walked right up to us. I've heard that when they grin at you, they're ok.Know any good fox jokes?
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