Friday, December 5, 2014

Prelude of the book Enchanted Circles


I first laid eyes on that house a week after I began my second summer vacation with my aunt. As I explored the beautiful mountains that surrounded her adobe home, I stumbled on the dwelling almost accidentally when I trekked higher than I had the day before. I later discovered that the house could be reached via the winding dirt road in front of Aunt Millie’s place, close to where it eventually came to a dead end. I could smell the sweet, fragrant aroma of something baking, perhaps cookies, well before the house made itself known to me. I found that to be very odd, considering that pine and pinon ruled the noses of everyone that lived up there. From the dirt road, I could barely see the structure at all; the dense evergreen and the elongated shadow of the mountain obstructed the view, so only the citizens of our part of the valley knew it was there.

To get a better view of the place, I had to trespass and venture down the driveway, but it was worth the risk. The house was absolutely magnificent. The low-slung roof of lead shingles and the massive beams that supported it gave it strength, permanence, a natural beauty that made it look as if it were part of the mountain itself. It appeared positively ancient, marked by a thousand severe winters, its wooden skin as gray as the gnarled pinion that dominated the area. A bank of small, multi-paned windows ran the length of the dirty, neglected façade that gave the impression the house had been abandoned. The front door was comically disproportionate. It looked like a miniature replica for a dollhouse in comparison to the size and weight of the rest of the place. On that first day that I dared to walk down the driveway, I skirted off to the side of the house to get a better look at the chimney. It was of an exaggerated height and built of burnt-orange stone, probably from the bluff, and flanked the entire west side of the house. Although I never saw a wisp of smoke from it, I could only assume that was where the baking took place.

If the place hadn’t been located in such an isolated location, it surely would have been registered with some kind of historical preservation society. Homes of that nature and significance in Minneapolis or Chicago would have been part of some national register. As I gazed at it, I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been turned into some money-making tourist attraction, but I was also glad it had been left alone.

The mansion was wonderful and eerie at the same time, not quite creepy but not altogether benign either. It gave my stomach a flutter to imagine what secrets it held, but the aroma of freshly baked cookies made it feel safe and inviting. I had to admit that the whole Hansel and Gretel story came to mind but this was no haunted house, the type in which young boys conjured monsters from. It had a secret; I felt it immediately in my bones. I sensed a history there and I wanted to know more.


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