Sunday, October 30, 2005

NANTUCKET: Ghosts and Gams

Wind rustling the leaves, mist, salt air, light fog, and set-stillers spell Halloween on Nantucket. I dressed for the occasion in my black tights with little white ghosts, black boots, skirt, four-ply cashmere sweater, and painted a tiny ghost on my face. 

At the Whaling Museum's Ghost Gam we sat amidst whaling artifacts and under the skeleton of an eighty-foot whale with jaws that could have absorbed a car – Moby Dick material.

We brought a bag of chocolate-covered cranberries to nibble while a reader read Cornish ghost tales accompanied by a harpist. The spookier the story, the faster we nibbled, and the more Minnie and I didn't want to walk alone back to our room at the Jared Coffin House. It has its own ghost. Shivers.

Locals told of walking by the cemetery and being chased by the ghosts that sit on the fence posts. Proper etiquette for approaching the 'setstillers' was discussed. If they were kindly acknowledged, would they still chase people? You check it out.

I got up and told of a house at home a ghost kept from selling. Her presence cooled it even on the hottest days of summer: supernatural air-conditioning. The house would sell, but the buyers would call within a day and back out. Through prayer and intuitive expertise, the ghost was encouraged to leave and take her baby with her. She did. Within a few days the house sold and stayed sold.

When the whalers were out to sea, a passing ship from home meant a Gam: exchanged mail, gossip, and booze: a party! I'll bet they wished they could have exchanged underwear.

Whalers were gone for months whaling the Atlantic. When it was fished out, they were gone years at a time whaling the Pacific. There was a story on display about a couple married fifteen years who had spent a total of fifteen months together. The women were left behind to run the farms and businesses. I could feel "woman power" in the air.

Fortified with lobster eggs Benedict and wrapped in warm coats, Minnie and I braced ourselves for the after-dark ghost walk. Our group stuck close together; no one wanted to be "left behind."

According to our guide, ghosts have been seen, and continue to be seen, going into the basement of a business to work on looms. Another climbs the stairs to sit by a window and rock. We looked with our eyes open and closed, felt the air for quivery cold, and were disappointed, sort of; we weren't sure we wanted to see them.

The ghosts are seen in period costumes. Maybe they don't know they're dead. At one location the energy felt dangerous raising the hair on the back of our necks. We shivered and moved quickly away. Our guide said ghosts are seen many more places, but the home owners don't want to be included in the tour. We concluded there are ghosts everywhere but on the census.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN wherever you are. Don't let the ghosts get you.

copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series   

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