Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 237/365 October Rising

**I always feel most at home in October and it's welcome-to-the-dark-side atmosphere, possibly due to my Appalachian roots and their love of hauntings and spirits, or maybe because that heritage was topped off with a childhood in New Orleans and it's voodoo soup of ghosts and loup garou.

One way or the other, I've always leaned into the dark side and felt perfectly at home there. I've found that pricking in my mind is not always my conscience, those night breezes are not always just the air moving, and, if you know what to look for, things are not always what they seem.

Let's make this particular thinning of the veils a month to remember, sprinkled with some previous-posted ghostly stories.

Welcome to my family.**

It occurs to me that this is my favorite month.....the end of summer, the beginning of fall, and the great leading-up to the dark holiday....Samhain, the night when the veil is thinnest between the worlds.......Halloween.

For being the daughter of a scientist, I have had more than my share of otherworldly experiences and spooky encounters. I'll recreate them as best I can, mostly to pass the stories on to my daughter, and hopefully entertain the rest of you.

My Great Aunt Sadie had a long full life, and was very lackadaisical about things that other people might think unusual or strange. She died two years ago, living her entire life up in a deep hollow in the Appalachian Mountains, first in a series of old log cabins, heated by huge stone fireplaces, then marrying and moving into what was formerly a pig barn, a wood and tarpaper shack in the 1930s. During World War II, she and her husband managed to build a Sears Roebuck house, ordered from the mail-order catalogue and hauled up the mountain on sleds pulled by draft horses.

When she was a child in the log cabin, the only entertainment was visiting other family, for every occasion, as well as for no reason at all. It was nothing for children to walk all over the mountain by themselves (usually barefoot), with no one to be afraid of, and no particular danger.

During her fourth year, she went with her mother to sit at a wake for Old Man Wilburn, who had passed away. At that time the deceased's body was laid out on a "cooling board", usually in the front parlor of their home. All their kin came to pay respects, sit up through the night and share stories (and probably more than a few bottles of moonshine).

Late that night, Sadie decided to walk home alone, crossing down through the dark tree-filled hollow, then up again across the wide pasture, then pass the big rock that marked the path up to her family's cabin.

The moon was full, and the lady sitting on the rock was dressed in white, with her long brown hair twining down her arms. Sadie smiled at her grandmother, and then turned to go up the path, taking the hand of the man who stood next to her. The two of them walked up the dark path, listening to the trees rustling in the night breeze, until she climbed the steps up to her cabin door, home, safe and sound, alone again.

Lots of people saw Mollie Wynn sitting on that rock, usually on nights with a full moon, always in her white dress, always smiling. Mollie had passed away the previous year, but seemed reluctant to go on and leave her family.

And it never occurred to Sadie to be scared of the man who held her hand while she walked the mountain path - even though she had seen him laying on the cooling board just minutes before.

**Originally posted October, 2008.

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