Sunday, December 20, 2015

Edith, Our Witchy-Woman Housekeeper, Shares a Sad and Troubling Tale... 12/20/15

The cold has finally reached us. They say it still hasn't settled in for good, but we have it for a few evenings. Thin, brittle, candy coatings of ice reflect moonlight up from still rivers, really little more than misnamed streams. I like The Pines in winter. You've been here with me before. It's Edith, the housekeeper from the city. I come back for Christmas. It's only a ninety minute ride. They all come out here, Jonathon, Sarah, all of them. The Jersey Pine Barrens is a special place. Magic lives here. It always has. I sit on the porch and watch the ghosts. They trace through the trees like deer. Some nod. Some don't. Little more than eyes in the dark. Raccoons scurry right through them. The cold gives everything a different aura. It all looks so focused, even in the weak, silvery beams.

But I see it in daylight. I had a child, you know, a daughter.... a perfect little thing. She was ten months old... a dumpling in every way. I gave her pudding... plain, vanilla pudding. It made her happy....

It was April and already warm. I washed the sheets and took out the spring testers (light quilts). Not that there wouldn't be cool nights. We'd use two testers then. But that day was blue and clear and bright. I could smell the 'river' and the grass and the soil. We lived away from the village, in a little clearing. Thirty feet from the porch was The Pines. If Jersey Devils dwelt there, they were our Jersey Devils, more friends then monsters. Those of you familiar with Horsey Skeezix understand. Such a dear little soul he is. But the world knows what the world knows, or rather what it wants to know.

I put the baby in an old varnished, wicker basket, quite smooth and lined with layer after layer of soft-with-use faded, Turkish towels. Then I took her outside and laid her down on the grass, so I might hang out the wash, carefully draping a towel over one end to shade her from the sun. She gurgled and played with a rubber elephant. I still love that sound.

When I was done I spread a coverlet next to the baby and laid down to rest. Her breath was so even and so fine. I didn't mean to fall asleep... but I did... Mister Edith was out clamming. We were all alone. The wind kicked up. It does that. Warm days often change. I felt the breeze and woke up. That's when I saw it. The basket was upended... towels all over the grass... her little rubber elephant.....

We have big snapping turtles in that 'river.' I've seen them take apart a rabbit....

They say I was crazy for three weeks. Even then, I rarely spoke.

But when you read about me in this tale... when you hear them refer to Edith, the housekeeper... Edith the Jersey Pines witchy-woman, please know that I too have a history.

There are things that you don't know.

Please excuse me for commandeering the screen, but we've shared the ride for more than five years and I thought it only right to tell you.

If the voice I've used tonight sounds strange, blame the gravity of my tale...

The details never leave me....

<more next time>


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