Monday, August 13, 2012

Gather 'Round the Campfire, Kids: A Scary Story

After Sunset from Verkamp's July 2012 © 2012 Melinda S. Esparza

It was not a dark and stormy night. It was merely an evening--when Ell and I were alone upstairs at Verkamp's settling in for the night. As Ell walked toward the kitchen and I stood next to the living room sofa, there was a very, very loud CLAP. He looked at me. I looked at him. Both of us had queries, "Did you hear that?! Was that your laptop?" "No!" Neither of us had made the sound and the laptop didn't have that kind of capability. I, like the good and safe mom posited," It was prolly the fireplace flue, er, something," and we carried on (The fireplace had not been operable for many years, I later learned.) Ell says he totally bought my explanation, even though there was no reason to assume it. I'll take that as a good thing.

The house was extremely noisy, until it wasn't. There were some nights when I would smile listening to the sweet laughter of children and adult voices accompanied by faraway music wafting up from the downstairs gift shop. Then, I'd realize it was 10:30 at night. The gift shop closes at 8 pm. Sometimes it sounded like a dinner party, and all this with an evaporative cooler fan running. There were other nights when the house walls seemed alive with strange noises and knocks, when it wasn't windy, but never a large clap, even when the monsoon winds arrived. (An aside: wolf spiders and other strange insects seemed drawn to my bedroom and to my pillow during these days! Okay, old houses have these things, but why, oh why were they on my pillow and on no one else's?!)

In the Night, Spirits (8" x 8" oil on artists' board© 2012 Melinda S. Esparza

I heard that there were spirits (legends from Native American culture too) that spent a lot of time around the mule barn and some of the employee housing nearby. They were not the cheerful sort.  Here's one employee's story.  And, there is a book on the subject: Grand Canyon Ghost Stories Spooky Tales About Grand Canyon National Park.

After Ell left, and I was all alone at the Canyon, I became increasingly uneasy--prickly really, with an intuitive sense of energies curious about who was hanging out at Verkamp's old place. And, they were mischievous. I mean, I'd had three roller blinds fall on my head and one window fall out of its frame while I was standing next to it! But, there might have been a slight breeze...On the other hand, the window had been open for days and I'd recently checked to make sure it was in its track.

Okay. I was getting nervous. There. I wrote it. I don't know about you, but I do sense things that sight and ears don't fully account for. Color me crazy, that's just the way I've been all my life. I'll bet you've had some radar for this kind of thing, too.

The intensity of my anxiety continued to roil, until I was so freaked by sounds and sensations each night that I became fed up--and annoyed, and with all the good synchronicity happening, I didn't want things to get ugly. So, near midnight one particularly goose bumpy night (like being watched and troubled and ready to run from the building freaking out), I had a conversation--out loud and for a few minutes, in the living room and the balcony under the stars. As I spoke about how I was living there now without malice and expected the same, I felt a dissipation of energy (curious spirits?) Peace and quiet filled the house.  Even the darkness of the Canyon seemed friendlier.

I was so at peace after this loud conversation that I never felt concerned about being alone in the building for the rest of my stay. A couple days later, there was an unexpected knock at the door. This never happens! Two local, Native American men in worker's garb wanted to check all of the fire alarms. They went through the place, chatted cordially with me, asking questions about my art and my stay with curiosity and studied, thoughtful looks. Finally, they said they'd be back later to replace an alarm. They never returned. I was in no way concerned about the unexpected strangers. I felt I'd past some sort of test.

You could say that I met my own fears and conquered them. I agree. Yet, I think we are visited sometimes, that there are residues of human energy that can cling to an environment (and what an environment it is!), and that these two possibilities can be hard to untangle, especially when all things must be measured against current scientific studies.

This painting might be in response to my remembering that part of my stay. It was another spontaneous painting that I painted a few days ago.

Have you had similar experiences?

"Now about those ghosts. I'm sure they're here and I'm not half so alarmed at meeting up with any of them as I am at having to meet the live nuts I have to see every day. "
Bess Truman


Jeane Myers said...

okay, this gave me shivers!!! and I read the story that you linked - egads!!! I truly believe there are worlds we don't see but to actually bump into them in the dark is a bit unsettling, no? you handled it so extremely well! wow! the painting is just crazy good!! it almost jumps off the surface! if this is the direction you are heading in your work, I say, get your roller skates on and get going - you've got a journey ahead girl!! xo

Micros said...

Great painting.

Lots of energy there. . . tremendous! Someone let the door open.

As long as human kind is around, there are things that go bump in the night and in the daylight too. Indians believe, that those insects that are a bother, are the dearly departed trying to commune with the living.

Bess Truman. . . ole Harry had a great one. He knew it too.



Melinda said...

Ha! Jeane, thank you for that. I am shopping for roller skates right now!

I agree with you about other worlds. There are physicists who suggest there might be universes that overlap, and when they do...Hmmm.

You made my day with your kind review of my work. Thank you for the inspiration.


Melinda said...

Thank you, Micros. I like the idea of a door open: to new ideas, new ways of seeing and painting. I'll go with that.

You reminded me of the Native American tribe here in my region, the Tohono O'Odham, who believe that saguaros are their ancestors made present. Each culture seems to have a narrative about what we do not know and narratives about what we really want to know. I think we're on the verge of knowing--when we allow ourselves time to listen.

May you continue to be inspired in your work.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I've never been troubled by ghosts in waking hours, but I am aware that certainly people we love live on. Why is that I think 'that's where my Dad used to stand to wait for us when we got off the train', years after his death when I go to the Ottawa train station?. My Dad sends me crows. I am not religious. Don't have a clue about an after life. But I know that and no one told me. This is a pretty spooky story, and I'm glad you took them on. Brave you.

XO Barbara

Barbara Muir said...

Oh and love the painting.

XO Barbara

Melinda said...

Hi Barbara!

I like to think of our ancestors watching over us. It's just not so nice to think of the troubled ancestors of others hanging around, right?

For my own sanity. For my own 'serenity now'...ha!

Thank you on the painting too.


Edgar said...

Your subconscious digs up some really cool paintings. That's a lot of spirit. Keep 'em coming!

Donald Diddams said...

Well now we know why the spirits have been in your paintings, both this one and the last! What a story.
I'm not sure I would have been so brave, but then if you wanted to stay, what choice did you have but to confront them and reach an accommodation.
I suspect things like that happen all around us, but usually we are not in a receptive mode, so are not aware. In this new and stunning environemnt you were aware.
Fabulous painting, love the textures!

Melinda said...

Thank you, Edgar.
Hmmm. My subconscious seems to be pretty active in the day time, when I'm holding a brush. Don't really know what that means. Am I dreaming while awake? Am I a crazy person?


Melinda said...

Yes, Donald, they seem to be loose and jumping on the canvases! Well, these are friendly ones, I think.

You're right. I considered my options and concluded it be they who must depart! Ha!

I'm glad you like the painting. It does have presence, you know.