AN ALTERNATIVE PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE : A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE
by Paul Schroeder
by Paul Schroeder
Ghosts, seen on Block Island are only part of the paranormal show, in town.
One late September I and my wife stayed at the hotel 1661 INN at Old Harbor on Block Island for a week to celebrate a vacation where
we enjoyed an island off season, bereft of tourists from the mainland to watch an island gear down from summer and close up in preparation for the winter.
Only a few bird watchers clubs frequented the island then, for the weather was windy, cold, blustery and rainy,
storms which added to our desire to stay close to the inn and in each other’s close company.
One stormy and windy evening at ten o’clock in the evening, I went out to the backyard of the inn, tacitly to watch the view of whitecaps roiling on Old Harbor and to socialize with a pair of goats, which roamed freely on the property.
Out on the harbor, a quarter of a mile from the shore among the rolling whitecaps, I saw a flickering, blue triangular light that vanished and then reappeared a short distance from where it had been.
At first glance, it looked like the angular sail and mast of a middle sized sailing craft, a craft in distress that struggled to make headway in the stormy waters, except that this sail radiated a surreal phosphorescent light, a glow that ebbed and waned like a dying flame .
The bluish sail’s color glowed in a purplish light and then vanished completely, only to reappear another short distance from where it was last sighted.
I watched in wonder as its shifting movements made it jump from one location to another location every few seconds; its odd flickering flame glowing in a surreal sailboat triangular form, was something I’d never seen before.
It vanished completely, after a few minutes among the stormy waves, as though it had finally capsized .
The image of that strange vessel has haunted my memory for many years,
a famous Block Island ghost ship seen often in stormy weathers, by many others before and after me.
However, not until recently, some years later, having read “Livermore’s History of Block Island”, did I realize that the book’s description of an oddly lit and shifting Palatine Ghost Ship seen off Block Island is precisely what I caught and observed that windy white capped and rain swept evening.
Even odder, some Block Island ghost stories are still in the making.
(from a communique from a friend):
“I was fishing off Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island in 1995. I was in a boat, and we watched a big cloud of smoke appear off Block Island in the distance.
What happened was that an airplane crashed into a restaurant.”
It appears that a young child, a wife and a doctor and his mother all perished en route,
in a small aircraft just before landing at Westerly Airport on Block Island.
The small plane hit a restaurant taking an additional islander life;
one small airstrip lay 500 feet parallel to a line of three coastal restaurants.
Block Island, an off-season haunt for me, now has the addition of these ghosts, for the dead often remain at the site of their violent death, ghostly additions to a place already most assuredly haunted.
There is resident talk of ghosts seen on the island, especially those spirits restless and active at the Old Town Inn, a hotel location, geographically central to the island.
I would often prefer to stay at the Old Town Inn, inspired by the stories of its often seen ghosts.
History indeed confirms that a State Senator who lived there in the early 1800’s, faced charges that he murdered his ailing mother for his inheritance, by throwing her down the long narrow stairway, a stairway still in evidence.
I surmise that he was acquitted.
But the staircase and basement area judge fate and history differently.
The owner told me that he had seen the bare bulb in the basement often spin of its own accord; it kept him and mainland workmen away from that basement.
Most locals were too leery an ilk to spend any real, required time down there, doing some essential repairs.
When restorations had initially begun, it had been noticed that all interior doors had been removed; when the new owners had queried contractors why this had been done, a disturbing answer had been returned.
The many doors’ constant opening and closing by themselves had unnerved, distracted and unsettled the mainland workmen.
They had removed the doors, and erased these house symptoms, but touched not the disease, itself.
Guests have asked the front desk about a ghostly woman, seen from their upstairs windows, a spectre who has walked in the deeper shadows of the garden at night, in a pink, long, flowing gown, who has carried a pink parasol.
She can be seen in the back garden, under a full moon, late at night, when weather conditions are perfect.
I would stay here on Block Island, despite its ghosts, because it was far from scenic views of the harbor, and from crowds of daily ferried tourists.
This central location on Block Island allowed me to be more reclusive in my wanderings, far from people, which was my nature.
I wandered among persimmon trees, apple and wild plum, across vacant meadows and fields whose scattered vestigial remnants of ancient stone foundation fragments revealed where houses once stood.
On one such long walk, a deer froze in a field to then bolt from view and
on my return to the Inn, on that same cold, windy afternoon, I saw a cat
quickly scurry under the foundation of the hotel, a cat as orange in color as the drifting early October Maple leaves.
Only the feral cats who roam the streets of Block Island know its ghosts as permanent residents, lost and not yet found.
Block Island’s feral cats, independent and grateful creatures, like solitary ghosts, have astonished me in the oddest ways.
Whenever New York City snow drifts high enough to seal all the doors and windows of February, I conjure an image of frozen kittens cuddling in the Rhode Island icy snow.
That image haunts me, though I’ve never seen it.
I was informed when I inquired at the inn, that she was feral and would have to over winter on the island alone, that she belonged to no one and had recently had a litter somewhere under the cellar.
The staff, who took pity on her and who fed her, would soon leave by early November.
The hotel wouldn’t re-open until mid April; in deep winter snows, with a new litter of kittens, she would be on her own.
I was moved to go into town to buy some canned cat food and these I presented to the kitchen staff who cared for her.
I was told that I could
feed her myself, as she was just outside the kitchen, awaiting a handout..
I opened two cans and spoke to her, watched her as she fed.
I wondered aloud to the kitchen staff what fate might bring to those kittens when heavy winter snow lay against the outside of those abandoned
kitchen doors, all winter long.
Later, about ten o’clock in the evening, I heard a knock on my door that stopped my writing and upon opening the door, I found the chef outside, smiling warmly.
He asked me if I could follow him down to the kitchen.
She had, he said, been grateful to me and had brought me a ‘thank you’ gift, in eloquent cat artistry.
A large, dead marsh rat lay by the back kitchen door, fully displayed, on the welcome mat.
Puffed up and very proud, she paraded back and forth over it, purring and repeatedly making eye contact with me.
She had caught it and then she had brought it to me, as thanks, but also as a token.
It had somewhat assuaged my anxieties about her and her broods’ chances of survival, facing an icy cruel winter, with no food, alone on the island with only ghosts, as her company..
show of gratitude and
resiliency, all of which unfurled her fearlessness.
and she, bereft of food,
with new and hungry kittens to feed, would face a winter
of killing blizzards.