Thursday, January 27, 2011

most often we take the town roads, across the creek, through what i call the ornament valley, the west side, and there are a lot of stop signs, but occasionally you see something new, like a for sale sign. but other times we go a little out of our way, over to chautauqua, and it borders on the country, and you can go faster for a little stretch, but you can also see geese out over university farms and some huge trees still sit there from the storm, that my wife calls "the four soldiers" though nobody will ever come and pick them up. out here you see a lot of deer; they cross the road at dusk or morning or just about anytime, and as you get up a huge hill into town there are a lot of 'possum there so i call it 'possum hill.

now out over university farms on a small well-driven gravel road is a place called the tree farm where we used to take our dogs, and an old civil-war cemetery out there, under a grove of trees, that i remember well, and a couple of large lakes and wide open fields, all owned by the university, and a good place to walk or run, on the road anyway, which is still allowed, because the moon is wide and there's not much out there and it's really not that far from our house. mostly there's a lot of wide-open field out there and no wonder the deer are so fond of it. but recently this friend of mine got me to investigating ghosts in the area, in particular women ghosts who would need their name cleared, and there were two ghosts that stuck out in particular when i did research on the matter, though i still couldn't tell you much. one would be esmerelda, one of the most famous, a poor woman who lived on a craggy peak right above the mississippi river out on grand tower where the river churns at a rough spot, and on the craggy peak are some old ruins overlooking that rough spot; she was in love with a wayward pilot and killed herself, but why would she need to clear her name from that? and there was some other stuff in there too, about brothers fighting brothers in the civil war, all related to her, her relatives or something, but i don't know the story; maybe it's worth looking into.

and then there's the old post office, which is right in downtown carbondale, an ancient building with fancy brick and chandelier, haunted by a woman who makes noise at night, and rattles the chandelier, and supposedly some postmaster died there at one time - so why is it her who's making all the noise? and this place has been a blood plasma donor center for many years so these poor schlubs, myself included at one time, go in there one by one, get needles stuck in their arms for a spell, and get paid for the process and it's all on the up-and-up although one time with me they missed and got blood all over the place and i got a little rattled, but even then i didn't see a ghost because it was broad daylight and they gave me my $25 or whatever and were glad to have me out of there not suing them or anything, still in control of my senses. so i don't know much more about this woman that haunts the place but she's fairly well known and maybe some research could be done, maybe she's still waiting for her letter to arrive.

but then, and this is the kicker, further research points to the fact that at one time, there was a poor farm in jackson county, and it kind of mixed the poor and the mentally ill, though it wasn't huge, and it was out there on the university farms someplace, is owned now by the university, is hard to find but is abandoned, with some rooms locked and very spooky, out on some path, and it's called sunset haven or the vivarium (as it was once an animal experimentation place for a couple of years) or simply building 207. the university is not about to give clear directions but apparently you just go out toward thunderstorm road somewhere, and believe me i've scoured the maps and still can't find the place, at least not yet, i really don't know exactly where it is. and this is the heck of it. here it is a small town, a very small town, and yet they've somehow taken it off all the maps and made it virtually disappear from the average person's radar, in fact it took me sixteen years to even hear of the place and that's only because i'm googling words like "ghost"...

so i'm looking down at my university farms haunts and trying to zero in on some place that supposedly has some old unmarked graves, some locked rooms, a bit of junk, and a bunch of fields all around it, but that could be almost anyplace, you can't tell that from google earth, and these ghost hunters don't leave very clear directions either. it seems it's just out there someplace, and i'm going to have to live with my uncertainty.

it's really nice to come down off of 'possum hill on the way home, down into the valley where the creek runs through and there's woods on one side, opening out into wide fields and university farms, and you can actually speed up a little as you're finally in the country. but a deer jumped out at me, kind of spooked me, and i screeched the brakes and threw my arm out to hold my poor passenger who in this case was my wife, from smashing through the front windshield, and ended up about a couple of feet from the deer's face; the deer was as shocked as i was but of course looked me right in the eye, before backing off and going his own way back into the green earth wetlands on the town side of the road. several people have hit deer at that very spot, or crashed trying not to, and i was lucky all in all, that i wasn't actually going all that fast and the road wasn't all that slippery, this being southern illinois and all, and there isn't all that much ice on the roads even in january. just some deer, but he probably knows the territory better than i do, and doesn't need google earth or a gps to find his dinner, or anything else for that matter. we're both lucky, and we know it, 'cause we're around to keep looking, and will be on that road another day. and i'll find that place too, though it's not the ghosts i'm after, let the poor dead souls rest in peace, i don't even know who they are. it's kind of disrespectful, after all, to even walk around out there, if you don't know anything about it, but, that's the whole point to me. in a small town like this, what is there, some place like that that i didn't know about?...and how could that be?

above, the geese circle around, attracted to these lakes that are basically empty, but undecided about whether to actually go further south, or start going back north, or just hang around and see what happens, or land on some body of water that could be on the verge of freezing as virtually everything is until about february. and they argue with each other although they occasionally make up their minds to get in formation and actually go a mile or two in some direction but then they start arguing again as if one in the back says, see, i told you, you go one mile north and it starts freezing up again. in the end we're kind of stuck with them, they really don't make up their minds, and there's enough water out here that it really doesn't matter all that much. i consider them company, at least they can talk, they respond to the little changes in the wind. in the mornings a light frost hangs on the dry grasses going off into the farmlands, but if there are other roads or driveways out there that i don't know about, maybe i'll have to look into it, or wait until maybe some fall, when it's all dried out, and i for sure won't get stuck in the mud, unable to get my wheels or feet unstuck, and too far from civilization for anyone to notice. only a couple of miles from town, yet worlds away, and as far as i can tell, only the ghost hunters even know about it, besides maybe some ag guy.

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