Dark Cold Water

 

underwater_001_small_tdkkzlhu0The Indian summer began like any other when I was twelve years old growing up in the small colonial era farming community of Granby, Connecticut. The last fields of the summer harvest had been shorn of their corn, alfalfa, hay, and tobacco. The wet smell of fresh cut hay filled the air as well as the mingling aroma of tobacco fields that now lay bare of their crops. The large tobacco leafs would hang neatly from wooden poles to dry underneath white-sheeted tents. The smell of tobacco, sweet and pungent, hung in the air. It was a grown-up smell, a smell of intimacy and secret goings-on. My cousin Garrett and I would sometimes sneak up behind the white-sheeted tents and listen. Giggles, laugher, and strange noises were not unfamiliar sounds to our ears as we listened. More than tobacco leafs nestled under the white-sheeted tents.

Not far from the tobacco field was an ancient apple orchard that looked like something out of a wicked fairy tale. Walking through its darkly gnarled wood was a rite-of-passage experience for anyone under the age of twelve. To this day memories of Canton road, where I grew up, float across my senses.  I envision its tar paved darkness as it crosses over Salmon Brook, cuts through McLean’s game preserve, wanders by weird old Stewart Duncan’s farm, and the said-to-be-haunted Sperry colonial homestead. Canton Road weaves it way over-laying the swell of land occupied for ten thousand years by the indigenous people like the Massaco Indians who were a part of the Algonquian tribes. Evidence of their inhabitation is still visible by those who know what to look for.

Spirit Pond is one of those places. There are sightings by the locals of ghost warriors that still drink the dark cold waters of Spirit Pond and are not as rare as one would like to believe. Spirit Pond is a large spring fed body of water surrounded by tall reeds and weeping willows. Its dark cold water and deep recesses still hold untold secrets as well as the body of Minnie Brogan. My rather strange cousin Garrett was drawn to the story of Minnie Brogan and I followed suit. Young Minnie Brogan lived in a small dwelling at the edge of Spirit Pond in 1680 not far from our home in the Salmon Brook Settlement.  She was said to have met with a ghastly end. It is a haunting legend of sorts and the story appears in the town’s tourist pamphlets as a way of advertising its colonial history to visitors.

It was said that young Minnie Brogan lived a solitary existence in her meager dwelling on the edge of Spirit Pond and tended a few chickens and a vegetable garden. She also grew medicinal herbs. In colonial times, a female living alone who also concocted remedies was sure to raise suspicions of witchcraft. Yet, Garrett and I doubted this explanation and we would often sit by the edge of Spirit Pond trying to envision that long ago crime. Minnie Brogan was dragged from her thatched hut. She was bound by her hands and feet and thrown into the spring fed pond. We wondered how scared she must have been as she slowly sank into Spirit Pond’s cold dark waters. I personally believe there was more to it than just medicinal herbs. Minnie was young, alone, and was said to be hauntingly beautiful. She was accused of conjugating with evil forces. As a six grader, I had no idea someone could actually be murdered for not knowing how to conjugate a verb (although there were times I was sure by teacher at thought of it).

So, it was in winter when Spirit Pond was frozen-over that Garrett and I would go ice skating and just as often we would look to see if Minnie Brogan’s ghostly apparition would rise up from the ice. Although we never actually saw her ghostly-self rise from the pond, we imagined what she would look like if she did. I wonder about Minnie Brogan’s secret hopes and dreams that vanished into the dark cold waters of Spirit Pond one nefarious moonless night long ago. Sometimes I even imagine I can feel her presence as I dip by fingers into the waters of Spirit Pond. It is though the earth remembers her and still holds her secret longings. I, too, will always remember Minnie Brogan.

THE BOY – A Short Short Story

Ryan 1

 

                         The Boy 

   Beneath the forest canopy, she heard a slight rustle and then she saw him. His long slender legs moved with an effortless grace like a white-tailed deer through the brambles and bushes. He leaped dancer-like over decaying logs and skipped stone by stone over mossy growths—wet with dew.

The tall boy stopped now and again to smell the air as he made his way through the forest. The girl followed him, Indian-like, through the path the dark-haired boy made through the forest. She was almost close enough now to see the boy’s nostrils flare. In the distance, the girl heard the flow of water over pebbles and stones as she followed the stranger who followed the sound of the brook.

Ahead of them were large granite boulders and the sound of rippling waters. She watched the boy as he adeptly scampered over the huge glacier boulders and disappeared from sight. She followed suit and climbed over the boulders to reach the rocky banks of the brook. When she turned to looked for the boy, he was nowhere to be seen. She sat down for a moment and sighed. The girl wondered who he was, where he disappeared too, and why she had never seen him before.

As she pondered his sudden disappearance, she dangled her feet into the clear water. The girl looked down at her reflection, mirrored in the brook. Her long golden brown braids framed a face that softly tanned from the summer sun, hazel eyes now as deeply green as the moss beneath her feet. She became acutely aware that she was being observed and when she looked up, she saw the boy. His lean muscular body glistened in the sunlight. He stood with legs apart and his arms akimbo, staring down at her with an amused grin.

Her damp blouse was revealing more than it ought too. She blushed. She pushed her slender young body into the cool waters of the brook with nary a sound. Like an Indian brave, the boy dove into the water and came up beside her with a shy smile. She sighed deeply, realizing her androgynous past was gone and her path was uncertain.