So, I’m back from a more or less unplugged week. I say “more or less” because, unfortunately, Andrew’s BlackBerry worked in New Hampshire, which means I was able to give in to my email addiction. However, I checked only two times in seven days, which I consider pretty good. Bizarrely, we wound up using the BlackBerry to look up Scrabble words, which seems somehow ludicrous, almost blasphemous; but we couldn’t find a dictionary. Also, there was a degree of comfort in knowing we could make a call if we needed to, if an intruder were to somehow find us out there in the woods.
Ah yes, the nerves that come with being secluded. Andrew and I had only one night alone at the house before the rest of his family arrived, and having so many people around seemed like it would be excellent insurance against a galloping imagination. This was not the case.
Early in the week, we all spent some time rearranging the living room, replacing some furniture that had been moved and rehanging some pictures on the wall. A large, gilt-framed portrait of a stern, ancestral female relative (likely Andrew’s great-great-grandmother) went on top of a long bookshelf; she was flanked by two other, smaller portraits, both in oval frames. One afternoon, Andrew went inside the house and found his grandmother standing in the living room, holding one of the portraits; there was glass on the floor. “What happened?” Andrew asked. Nana said she’d simply walked past the portrait, and it’d fallen to the ground.
Much later that night, as Andrew, his mother, and I played Scrabble, Andrew speculated that Nana had actually been trying to move the portrait, and had dropped it. At that point, I rose from the couch and went to get a drink from the kitchen. As I walked past the bookshelf, the other oval frame suddenly fell over with a crash. It seemed to almost leap towards me before it fell. I screamed. Andrew found it hilarious, but he, too, seemed a bit freaked out.
I had a few theories. The portrait that fell was of a man who had been a Civil War Colonel. Andrew and I had been looking at some very old pictures that day, including some of the Colonel, and I speculated that we had somehow stirred his ghost. Another possibility is that GrandMama (how everyone referred to that larger portrait) didn’t like sharing the shelf with two other portraits, and took matters into her own ghostly hands.
When a house dates back to the 1700s, anything is possible.