People sometimes ask if I’ve ever seen a ghost in this house, a reasonable question since the house dates to 1762. Like the flowers in the field that open in spring and fold when their time is over, many people have been born here, lived here, worked here, and died here, leaving an invisible tapestry of legacies. Ghosts, I’ve been told, are beings with unfinished business, unable to leave until it’s settled. I believe in ghosts and would not dismiss a ghost or reason it away if I saw one. But I’ve never seen or heard one in this house.
I’ve heard many accounts of ghosts, including one from the inn in my town. In one particular room, a gossamer woman takes a seat in the rocking chair at the foot of the bed after dark. I’ve heard the same account from several different guests who have stayed there. The accepted remedy, if you want one, is to put a stack of pillows on the chair, which seems to keep her from making herself at home.
However, the first year that I lived here, so many unexplained and unfortunate things happened, it felt like a haunting. The pipes froze and broke. The heavy weight of a massive ice storm broke many of the venerable trees that had given the property its poetic appeal. Since I was unable to move into the house until my previous home sold, I rented the house to a family whose rent was to cover the mortgage until I could take up residence. The septic immediately overflowed. Their children managed to wreak enough havoc upon the place that my insurance company (fortunately) covered the damage under vandalism. In four months, our one-man police force made 25 visits to the house (for reasons that could not be disclosed, because these were minors).
When at last I moved in, early on a May morning, I set to work on the renovations, hiring a number of wonderful craftsmen to help me. It seemed then that the curse had been lifted. And yet, within a few weeks, two of the men suffered heart attacks. Fortunately, both men recovered. But as all these occurrences accumulated, they, in themselves, created a further sense of foreboding. I became convinced that a bad spirit lingered here, giving me the extremely uncomfortable feeling that I was not meant to be in this house.
Perhaps it was my persistence that ended the jinx. I continued on the path I’d set, brushing away cobwebs, opening up doorways and adding windows. I filled the house with family and friends. Light entered and warm feelings took up residence.
So, in answer to the question, I’ve never seen a ghostly figure walk down the hallway, nor have I heard footsteps on the stairs or harp music coming from the rafters. But if a house is capable of having a spirit, this one certainly does. A spirit I cleave to.