Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round

On my way home from work today I stopped to pick up my mail at the Baldy post office. Along with my Newsweek and another opportunity to donate to the L.A. AIDS Project, there was a large manila envelope with my address inscribed by my own hand—a rejection. The ‘snake story’ was declined by The Sun. Thanks to those of you who read it and raved about it; your words give me the courage to send it out again. I’ll keep you posted.

I wasn’t about to let anyone take my jubilee today, though. The marine layer has been creating quite the spectacular show as I drive to work in the mornings. (See photo at right.) And--I received an email today from Belinda Nantz, a woman who has lived in Catawissa all her life. (Catawissa is where Bertha Gifford lived… in the so-called House of Mystery.) Belinda wrote to tell me that she’d just finished reading Tainted Legacy, that she’d heard stories of Bertha all her life, and that mostly folks said she was the kind of person who just really wanted to help members of her community. She said, basically, that the older people in the community—the “seniors”—had nothing but good things to say about Bertha. I’ve suspected for some time that the further we get from Bertha’s trial in 1928, the more sensationalized the events of those times will become. A few decades back, folks thought she was eccentric. Now there are “ghost hunters” trying to find her spirit roaming around in Morse Mill and postings all over the web about her being a serial killer. What if Bertha never really poisoned anyone? What if it really was all about arsenic in the drinking water?

At any rate, it was comforting to receive Belinda’s note. I thought about it as I walked to the waterfall this evening, the wind soughing high in the pines and the squirrels chattering about where the best acorns are. As I noted in a previous post, it’s been pretty quiet up here with the trails closed. A neighbor, returning from the waterfall as I was headed up, mentioned casually that she’d just seen a baby bear on the trail. We haven’t had bears around for two years. It made me wonder what’s coming next—mountain lions, maybe? Kind of like the snake story—What’s next? Maybe I’ll send it off to ZYZZYVA. Maybe Howard Junker will like it. Wouldn’t that be a kick?

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