You’re alone in a 170-year-old farmhouse located in the midst of a 65 acre property on the edge of Williamson County. Cleaning, mopping, dusting, folding, organizing and exploring. You never know what you’ll find when you open the next drawer – treasured sterling silver cutlery? Coffee filters? Quilts? Spiders? Obviously some surprises are far better than others. Trust me.
We’re preparing for some trial guests at the Writers’ Colony this week, and while things don’t have to be perfect I’m doing my darndest to get them close. Behind the bar in the dining room, I swing open a lazy susan to find several dozen votive candle holders of all shapes and sizes. Blue glass, crystal, brass, tin. Tall, short, round, flat. Most of them have been left in a complete state of disarray, with layers of melted candle wax coating every crevice. So I, looking for something tedious to do, start cleaning them.
I can’t help but wonder, as I dig my pained fingernails into layer after layer, how long it has been since these candles were lit. And what for. Because that’s how things go in this house – you can’t help but engross yourself in the ghosts of those who lived here first. Because they left just about everything.
It’s beautifully rare to be able to explore someone else’s life in this way. It’s a story in itself. And in many cases, it would actually be illegal. But for me right now, it’s all in a day’s work. And I enjoy every piece of the puzzle that I uncover in antique armoires and self-locking cupboards.
Books about adolescence and family strife, God, travel, Switzerland, horses, history and local lore. Hundreds of old linens and ancient quilts. Pots and pans and too many measuring cups to count. 8 personal-sized cast iron skillets. Old, rusted farm tools now retired for decorations’ sake. Wild wallpaper patterns to offset the thousands of peacocks strewn across the property (it was Peacock Hill Bed & Breakfast, of course).
As I’m wrapping up for the day, I become hypersensitive to clicking and tapping sounds around me. It feels like the ghosts are here – and for a moment it’s all I can do not to turn every light on and run from the room. But alas, it’s just the air system. The refrigerator. The creeks of an old tin roof.
And anyways, if the ghosts are indeed present (as I’ve just been led to believe by a local I talked to a few hours ago), if I ever come across a noise that cannot be explained , I’m pretty darn sure that I have nothing to fear. The lives once lived here were filled with love, laughter and compassion. It’s apparent in the things they left behind. Their spirits and memories are just welcoming us on the long journey we have ahead as we strive to carry on the legacy of their property and hopefully do it some justice.
Those Civil War soldiers, however….I can’t be so sure about them. I don’t trust the snakes, either.