April 30th, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

Grey Evening

Smoke is curling from the chimney of the house across the street, drifting through chill air into the fading light under cloudy sky. A smoking chimney evokes mixed feelings for me. It suggests a warm room and flickering firelight, but also the coldness the fire is meant to repell, and the loneliness of the outsider. It reminds me a bit of ghosts, too. It is said by some that there is a ghost haunting this ridge. It is a horsewoman, dressed in riding clothes of the gold rush era. Some claim to have seen her riding through the woods late at night. I have never seen her. But in those hours, when the waning moon rises late and shines through the pine trees, a bit of its light will fall on the corner of a white house, or part of a picket fence, or, perhaps, in spring, the white blossoms of a bush or a dogwood tree; and then it will seem as though the place is full of ghosts, lurking just outside the deep shadows. What is it about wooded places, that makes it so easy to believe that they might be haunted?