Bewitching & Beautiful! Feed

Blessed Samhain ~ The Story of Lucy


 
As I went out walking this fall afternoon,
I heard a whisper whispering.
I heard a whisper whispering,
Upon this fine fall day...

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,
I heard a laugh a'laughing.
I heard a laugh a'laughing,
Upon this fine fall day...

I heard this whisper and I wondered,
I heard this laugh and then I knew.
The time is getting near my friends,
The time that I hold dear my friends,
The veil is getting thin my friends,
And strange things will pass through.
(Author unknown)


Will you follow me? Its Halloween and I thought that maybe, just maybe you would be in the mood for a ghost story but first we have somewhere that we need to be. Yes, I know that the woods are dark, but isn’t the smell intoxicating this time of year? The leaves are wet and seductively sour, sweet ripe apples are still hanging on the cool bare branches and the musky scent of deer lingers all around in the still night forest . We have come here the other way, through the woods instead of the churchyard, the old way…….the way that she came.

 
Just be careful where you step for the wrought iron fence that surrounds this family plot is broken in places and terribly low. I know that you are wondering why I’ve brought you to this place that smells of old grave dirt, wood smoke and limestone. I know that it’s scary because the soundless dead that lay here are so very different from you. In this place I can practically hear the blood and adrenaline pounding through your veins. I can’t tell this story anywhere else though for this is where she finally, peacefully lays. It is the story of fragrance as it passes through the veil.

I used to live in a very old house built in1848 and we actually had to perform an exorcism (I hate that word, it’s not truly appropriate) on a woman who died in childbirth , whose spirit was trapped in our upstairs back bedroom. She died alone and without her husband who had gone off to fight in the civil war. Her name was Lucy Smith. She presented herself to me when I was upstairs one night nursing our son Alex, whom she loved very much. I was rocking him in our chair and was surprised to hear a very slight breathing accompanied by soft moans that became more labored over time and would fall away only to be repeated over and again. As I screamed for my husband the hair began to stand up on the nape of my neck and my breast milk ran dry. We searched the room for a draft, anyplace or anything that could be making such sounds. It was the most tragic sound that I have ever heard. It was the sound of a young woman giving birth and dying at the same time. After that night I always knew when she was around because of the fragrant smell of spring violets tinged with blood that accompanied her even in the dead of winter.

She used to open the door that was dead bolted from the inside on the first warm day of spring. She loved our rocking chair and we would find it moving in the still of night and then hear her soft footsteps as she went back up the stairs. It was that icy moment just before winter turns to spring when we were working to help her break her bonds to this plane. I would bring her vases of fresh pussy willows and snowdrops that grew around the house because she loved our/ her farm so much. Through the relationship we established a very deep love grew. As strange as it sounds, she began to trust us and we her. Finally one evening she shared her whole story and that was when we saw the blood that we had smelled so often. She was a beautiful woman with long dark hair and deeply in love with her husband. She led us with happy visions through her wedding day that took place in the barn that we owned, shared with us the scent of dancing leather boots and her wedding supper. Sadly the last image she shared was the moment of her death as we saw her lying in her own blood, sobbing and holding the lifeless body of her dead child who is buried with her here. She was 38 years old when she died.

Several more days passed and one morning I went upstairs and felt her presence all around me. I knew then that soon she would be able to go. At that moment I heard her voice as soft as the wind telling me that she loved us, thanking us, that she was grateful. I felt myself being held by her, a sensation that I will always remember. I will never forget the smell outside of the window after she left.

It was of nectar, a honeyed presence that speaks to the presence of the divine and it lingered throughout the morning. There was still snow on the ground and I cried all day, more alone then I had ever felt in my life.

Lucy was an amazing woman and even after she was gone she would come back when Alex was sick and help me care for him, she loved him so much. One night when he had been ill for three very long and sleepless nights, I went upstairs to his room, pulled him out of his crib and brought him downstairs to rock him as he choked and coughed. When at last I took him back up to his crib I removed the beautifully folded blanket from the edge of the crib and placed him back into it. He fell quietly, instantly asleep. I went back downstairs to thank Jim for straightening up the room and he looked at me quite queerly. My husband hadn’t left our bed the entire time. Alex didn’t let go of the blanket for 4 days and he still remembers her. My son has been in danger’s path several times and known immediately and without question to run because of the voice that he still hears. I am sure that it is hers.

After she left, I went to the library and the historical society to see what I could learn about her. There were diagrams of the old McBride family cemetery where we now sit and I found her in those old crumbling papers , buried with her stillborn son. I took Alex and Moon, our Rottweiler for a walk the next day. After walking through the churchyard cemetery, I went through the woods and found the old family burial ground. As soon as we moved past the rusted gates my dog released her scent glands, a rank perfume of terror that I had never smelled before. When we got back to the old broken tombstones she started to pull me out of there. I stopped her long enough to read the headstone she was bolting from. It was Lucy’s.

This is a true story and indeed a very sad story, made lighter only by the fact that she did eventually become free. It was interesting , when I was thinking about what I could share with you tonight I smelled the faintest odor of violets and heard her softness. ..”Speak…… of me.” There was more it seemed that she wanted me to know.

Lucy was wonderful, although at the point when she was trying to reach out to us for help she was terrifying. It broke my heart when I realized how many families had lived in the house with her right there under their noses and she had struggled so hard to let them know of her presence without any success. I didn’t blame her for finally resorting to some very ghostly tactics to get my attention. I treasured my time with her.

Eerily, there was one more voice in our house……a young boy who came and went with frequency. He wasn’t trapped like she was and there was always the strangest smell of frogs, oats and brackish water that accompanied him, along with the fragrance of blackberries which coincidentally grew in abundance all around our farm with the juiciest ones always flourishing by the pond . He loved to run and skip around our halls. When I began to think about the telling of her story I came back to this place and went once again through the old records. I wanted to find him again , I needed to know who he was. Look to the right of her grave, over there where the two tiny headstones sit. He is there with her now, her young son James.

I had always wondered what bound Lucy to this world, why she took such good care of my child. I am sure that she did the same for everyone who grew up in her house, for those who never even knew. She was a beautiful and generous spirit, in life she must have been an extraordinary mother. Her son James died one year after she did……she must have been distraught to leave him, he must have died from the heart break of living without her and the bitter uncertainty of his father gone off to war. I never knew why the story seemed to still haunt me. It was unfinished and I am glad to know now.

Tonight I have come with a bouquet of sunflowers for her , carved pumpkins and candy for her children…..I always wear a simple Penhaligon perfume of violets on Halloween, strange and unearthly in the autumn air to honor her.

Lucy, if you can hear me still, know forever that I am grateful for it all.


Happy Samhain to all,
On this night we remember……….

Bewitching & Beautiful - Girls Night Out!

Girls night outI love folk art and this particular piece definitely suits the spirit of the season! It's called "Girls Night Out" and it was painted by an artist names Will Moses whose link I've attached here. I love this painting of these frolicsome witches and their cats casting their magic into the cauldron under the light of the full moon!  Will has many other wonderful seasonal pieces but I was especially bewitched by the Halloween note cards that he's created which you'll  find  on his site! 

While I was searching for Will's work I came across another fabulous Halloween site that I'd love to share with you. It's called  Yankee Halloween  and they've got everything that you need to create the spookiest All Hallows party ever! They carry the full line of Will Moses's work including his utterly wonderful Sleepy Hollow jigsaw puzzles that will be perfect entertainment for the whole family , sitting by the fire on a chilly autumn evening!  

While you're putting together that Jigsaw puzzle, how about a hot applejack toddy? Just take some fresh apple cider and put it in a saucepan, add a bit of maple syrup to taste, a liberal dusting of fresh cinnamon and a jigger or two of Lairds Applejack . Heat until just beginning a boil, pour into a warmed mug, add a dollop of fresh butter or freshly whipped cream, a cinnamon stick and enjoy!

 
Will Moses Folk Art

 


Countdown to Halloween ~ Beignets and Broomsticks

Bayou collage

 It's Samhain. My favorite time of year when and if I had my way I would be in New Orleans completely naked , drinking chicory laced, milky Cafe au Lait out of a antique silver pot and eating beignets dressed with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar, having never moved even a toe from out of an enormous duvet covered bed. That bed would be canopied of course and the sheets would be silky Egyptian cotton and the duvet would be silky and as airy as marshmallows. The pillows would be embroidered and lavish and the curtains would be a deep bottle green velvet.  There would be pralines dripping with brown sugar and sass and there would be gardenias in bunches everywhere.  There would be a bewitchingly beautiful man with an equally devastating mask waiting for me to finish breakfast so that he could draw my bath, liberally laced with Frederic Malle's Carnal Flower.   I know that none of these thoughts will come as any sort of surprise to those who know me well, especially the lusty man that I was smart enough to marry. I cherish food, perfume, magic and passion equally with a fervor that some women reserve solely for diamonds, shoes and pearls.  Gift me with truffles, tarot or tuberose on any given day and I will be properly enslaved ! 

 The thing about New Orleans is that she's a completely sensual, captivatingly sexual creature who's literally dripping with the sweet fleshy smell of the morning after a marvelous night with the naughtiest man.  The carnal and sardonic vibe of the deep south spells trouble for me with a capital T, but you have to experience it for yourself. You'll never ignore her haunting sirens call although you might hate yourself in the morning for heeding them..remember that I said  "might". Those beignets and gardenias blended with a soupçon of bloodlust can produce some very powerful magic. New Orleans produced the incomparably beautiful and tortured Louis Ponte du Lac, Anne Rices first beloved vampire. New Orleans is also the home of some of the finest burlesque in the world. Where else can you take a walk late at night with a Sazerac  in your hands and discover  just as many beautiful antique stores , strip clubs and tarot readers open all on the same block?

Burlesque

 I can never forget the all of the flowers, jasmine vines and dripping wet gardenias in the courtyard outside of Brennans Restaurant, where their pungent aroma mixed with the chicory and cinnamon coffee was about as heady a scent as a woman like me could ever ask for. I still revel in the memory of a sweet and sticky Banana’s Foster dripping with hot caramel and the flowering Jasmine climbing the wrought iron fences. I remember the candlelight and the hauntingly flirtatious laughter from women heard but never seen. The sticky Tuberose that grew everywhere was as stunning as a full moon and as narcotic as an opium den. Then there were all of the women, gorgeous hot house flowers with slickly coral lips , caramel skin and curvaceous bodies that were a promise of something that took me years to understand.


Southern women just astonish me with their ability to entice and enchant. I’ve never met a man who didn’t just love them, even if they love them only in secret , but I’ve met lots of women who absolutely hated them although I’ve never understood why. Not me…..I’ve always wanted to be one of them because they literally smell of orange blossoms, sex and white chocolate. They're the ones who really know how to wear stockings, gloves and hats...and they know how to take them off just as well. Their powers of seduction are legendary and who wouldn’t want some of that? Their magic is alive all year round....They love to have a cup of afternoon tea and I've never met one who couldn't read the tea leaves.  But truly? I think that the magic lies in the Beignets and Cafe au Lait! 

 

 

 Here's the best Beignet recipe that I've found yet from none other than Emeril Lagasse!

Beignets and Cafe au Lait

Ingredients
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees)
1 egg, beaten
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
5 cups of Chicory Coffee, hot
5 cups whole milk, hot
Directions
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the yeast, sugar, shortening, and milk, mix for 2 minutes. Add the egg. Mix well. Add 4 cups of the flour and salt. Beat at low speed until all of the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then beat at medium speed until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the bowl, and climbs up the dough hook. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the vegetable oil a deep fat fryer to 360 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Lightly dust the surface of the dough. Roll out the rectangle to 12 1/2 inches long by 10 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into twenty 2 1/2-inch square beignets. Fry the beignets, a couple at a time until golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towels. Sprinkle the beignets with powdered sugar and serve. Fill each cup with 1/2 cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Stir well.

Serve the coffee with the beignets.

In Bed.