A Ghost on His Periphery

Do you see a crazy lady here?

Today I was hoping to walk a woodland path along the neighborhood stream with R. The same I walked yesterday, after a few years neglect of it. It brought back the memory of one episode written in the opposite season—autumn—in our most recent Maine Metaphor. Maine In Winter. I have taken to calling this wonderful trail Crazy Lady, The Crazy Lady Trail. Here is an excerpt from the book to get you started on this memory, an episode called “My Ghost on His Periphery.”

Here’s an account of a youth seeing my ghost in these woods and being scared out of his mind. You may say, she exaggerates.—Out of his mind? You may say, How can someone see your ghost when you are still in the body, alive?

That’s a mystery to me too. Let’s see if I can unravel it here. I love to go into the woods at any time, day or night, whether on snowshoes, hiking or biking. Maine woods at night have an utterly different quality. Depending on clouds and phases, moonlight shafts down through black boles, producing crossing-hatchings and mysterious patterns everywhere. But you have to be careful about woods-walking around here, especially during deer season.

However, because All Hallows Eve was approaching, this particular haunting happened during bird-hunting season. It was still dark, I was in woods on a track, walking toward a pond-side road leading to the highway and that all-important cup of coffee. Distantly I heard the start-up of a two—or was it a four?—stroke engine; an all terrain vehicle, or ATV. Probably a four-wheeler. This, maybe, was one of the teenagers living by the north pond a quarter-mile away through dark woods.

This time of year, as we verge on winter, leaves are scarce except when deep, crunching, underfoot. This particular track is varied, sometimes winding along the brook, sometimes curving beneath a wooded knoll, solitary and tree-crowded in the dark.

I began to wonder about the engine-revving teenager. Maybe he’d take this pathway on one leg of his (I supposed) woodland journey toward school? He was making an irritating end-of-night racket—enough to wake the proverbial dead. (The dead are but proverbs.)—Distant. Yet listening now, I was fairly sure . . . the ATV was headed this way….

You may read more about this and other Maine experiences in the book just out this spring: Maine Metaphor: Maine In Winter.

Copyright 2021 by S. Dorman. Used with permission of Wipf & Stock Publishers.