One foggy January morning, 35 years ago, three years after we moved to Maplewood Lodge, I walked down the long driveway to the road, to wait with our children; Brenda (5,) and Peter (7;) for the school bus.
The bus emerged from the fog and they climbed on board. I turned to walk back to the house.
One minute the children's voices rang out--"Quick Brenda, get a kiss from Mommy," and, "Mommy, will you look after my snowball?" Then the whining hum of the bus driving off into the distance. Suddenly silence, hanging in the air. Palpable stillness.
There had been a light fall of snow the night before; enough to cover the trees and bushes with a magical new coat, but it was quite mild, and a mist hung all around the edges of the fields.
The hills that rose on the other side of the fields, were hidden, and in the quiet I was in a world at once timeless and peaceful.
From high in the misty treetops came the sound of birds chirping; the drip of snow melting from the rooftop; and occasionally a car whizzing by; intruders from the present, breaking the fragile spell.
I thought of my English childhood and my favourite foggy mornings there in the village, and how I felt securely blanketed in a world of cotton wool. It felt as though anything could happen; almost as if two worlds existed side by side.
You could catch glimpses of the real world as you passed lighted shop windows or recognized friends or villagers on their way to school or work, but it all had a strange aura of unreality with sounds muffled so that they seemed to come from far away.
That was how it felt that long ago January morning. I looked across the fields, into the mist, at the beautiful land and the old farm house, and wondered about the family that had lived there for almost 200 years after carving a farm out of the wilderness.
What kind of people were Shadrach, Elizabeth and Lydia Stephens, and all the other Stephens's whose names I didn't know, but whose bones rested in the pioneer burial ground beneath the orchard?
I didn't know the answer and would never know. The house looked on enigmatically. It would keep its secrets, as it had for generations.
It was a morning of mist...and mystery.