Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cross it off the Bucket List

Years ago, when we first moved to Spokane, one of my first bike rides took me south of town on Hangman Valley Road.  I was enchanted by the deer grazing in the fields, the lack of traffic, the peaceful atmosphere, and "the house."  There is something about abandoned, crumbing houses that get my adrenaline going.  Seven years later, we moved only two miles away from "the house." and my running/walking/biking route has taken me within view of "the house" hundreds of times.    I would have ventured into the home years ago, if not for this darn creek and its scary, mysterious contents.  Judging from all the living and dead snakes, coyotes, and porcupine that I have seen on the outskirts of this creek, I am fairly certain of what lurks in the surrounding tall grasses.  There is also the small matter of my close to certainty that it is on private property and the wide open space around the house would leave me vulnerable to protective property owners/hunter and their shotguns( We are close to Idaho, after all).  But still, the house called to me every time I passed.  It was an itch left unscratched.....a final episode of a season series easter egg left unfound.   I knew that one day I would go.  It must have been the ghosts of the history of that home that whispered in my ear one late summer day when I was feeling that my life was a sad list of goals left unfinished.  If I couldn't get my kids to do one remotely productive thing all summer, I could at least do something that I have wanted to do.

 This is the creek.  It doesn't look all that daunting, but take my word for it when I say that it is scary.  I normally love water, but there is something about this creek that gives me the creeps.  It took me a while to get into the water and I immediately sunk into slimy, miasmic mud, moss creeping around my legs, and  fish nibbling at my unshaven knees.   I was panicked, but had to go on.  Once I was across, I clawed my way up the banks, hoping not to mistake a snake for a blade of grass, or even worse, see a dead body.   The grass was almost to my shoulders and this was a little exciting and terrifying at the same time.  My legs were itching, but I had a sense of accomplishment because I thought I had made it across.......only to find  another hidden arm of the creek, just as uninviting as the first.   I had no idea how deep it was going to be, mostly because the mud could sink me a feet or fathoms deeper than it appeared.  When it got to my chest, I became worried.  I was holding my cell phone above my head and hoped I could spare it from a swim.  I have the photos to prove that I did.

I made it!  Other than the fear that I would be shot any minute, I indulged in the comforting embrace of someone else's history.....someone who lived here and had stories to tell.  I did my best to listen.  Even though I didn't know details,  I could feel something.   Pain and happiness, life and death.

After I was full, I couldn't bring myself to cross back over the creek.  I decided to head west, knowing that somewhere along the way, I would reach the freeway and could walk back home that way.  In retrospect, I'm not sure which way was worse.   I had to climb over barbed wire fences, shove my way through daggered branches, shuffle through stinging nettle, run from a few barking dogs, and endure the stings of at least 8 wasps.

This picture doesn't adequately portray the damage to my legs.  


And this looks pretty, right?   It's the devil in disguise.  
These little things can be big for a mother of a teen-ager who unvociferously reminds her every day that she is failing as a mother.

Oh, and the next time I passed the house, it was GONE.  Weird, huh?
I do believe in ghosts.....sometimes.


Kaerlig said...

Are you serious that it is gone? That is weird. Your story is the making of a good spook around a campfire. You wouldn't even have to embellish it.

Sijbrich said...

You are one brave soul. One look at that murky creek and I would swear to never cross it. I'm glad you got to experience the house before it's mysterious disappearance.