A Guest Halloween Story by Bernie Green

Keeping home fires burning makes for contented spirit

Many years ago we lived in a big old house at the edge of a small country village. It supposedly was one of the first in the village, a stately old federal style that lent itself to visions of the past.

From the records we researched from handwritten deeds in the County Offices, the house was built sometime in the late 1800’s.

Behind the house was a rather rickety old three-stall barn, which had been the livery stable for the big hotel that stood on Main Street.

The old hotel was long gone, but the iron rings were still in the barn where the horses we hitched after a long day of work.

The old house attested to its own story, it was a post and beam constructed building that shifted its weight with the frost heaves and spring thaws, with loud cracks and groans as if in complaint about its efforts to remain standing for so long a time.

Sometimes, as the cold weather threatened and the house made its usual creaks and sighs, there were also other small sounds, almost like soft whispers in the quiet—sometimes more discernable than others.

The little murmurs seemed to say, “Wood. More wood. Go to the barn. Keep the fire. More wood.”

It was more of a feeling than a sound, but it was there!

It is said that the old man who had lived there before we bought it was found dead in the yard, seated up against a tree with his armload of kindling. He had kept his fire until that fateful day.

Could it be that his spirit stayed nearby knowing that soon the ground and fallen leaves would be covered with a blanket of white snow?

And after, as I would go upstairs to check on my sleeping children, I would feel a presence telling me to shut a particular door, as “it wasn’t necessary to heat those cold rooms.”

When Halloween finally came and went and winter started to assail the old house, a feeling of calm warmth also prevailed. Yes, I kept the fire going and I believed that old man was finally at rest.

*This is a true story, but with slight exaggeration!

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