Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ghosts of New Orleans, a personal experience

Both my first novel, Sea Snow- the gentle haunting of a 19th century lighthouse, and the novel on which I am currently working for my series, Time Shadow, involve ghosts of one kind or another. Actually the first one is about a ghost and the one I am writing now is about a spirit. You may think of these as one in the same but I think of a ghost as a spirit that is bound to a person or a place beyond their control and have no choice but to haunt said person or place until they have come to some kind of resolution of unfinished business. A spirit, on the other hand, is that part of ourselves that lives on beyond our physical lives and exists in a different plane of existence but who may, if they so choose, visit or interact with the physical realm. (Just my thoughts as they are at the moment. I am always open to evolving ideas.) 

I have had only one interaction with a spirit but my dear, down-to-earth husband has had several, one of which occurred when we were traveling around the country on a 33,000 mile journey pulling a 13 ft camper trailer from Virginia to Alaska and all parts in between. With his kind permission I will tell you what happened to us on November 1 (All Saints' Day,) 2011 as we camped just outside New Orleans in St Bernard State Park Campground.
We had just pulled into this lovely park and were setting up camp around 5:30 pm. All the campground staff members were gone by then so we picked our spot and placed our payment into the self-pay box provided for latecomers. The park only had a few of its many campsites filled so we were able to find a good spot, far enough away from other campers for privacy but not too far from the bathhouse. (Our usual criteria.) We had a nice, level campsite, one side facing the camp road and one facing a stand of young trees. Our two dogs and I were inside the camper, which we affectionately called "Lucy," as I undertook the usual reorganization of supplies necessary when we set up camp and performing that most important of tasks, making two cups of hot tea, while Bill did his usual outdoor chores of securing the trailer. One of the things he had to do each time there was a water supply available, was to hook up the water hose from the water source to the camper. This is a job he had performed hundreds of times before with ease. This time, however, he could not get the hose end to thread properly and he struggled to securely connect it to the fresh water connector on the camper.

 As he crouched by the trailer, his frustration mounting by the second, he felt someone approaching and looked back over his shoulder. There, standing about eight to ten feet away between two narrow tree trunks at the edge of the campsite, was a slender black man about 70 years of age, curly grey hair, gold-framed glasses enlarging his kindly eyes, dressed neatly in a long-sleeved blue cotton shirt buttoned up to the neck, khaki trousers and sneakers. (As a photographer, my husband is extremely observant with a great memory for detail.) The man was carrying a bright yellow water hose that trailed behind him and was smiling reassuringly at Bill, looking as though he were about to speak and offer assistance. At that moment, Bill felt the hose slip securely into its connection and turned his eyes back to the trailer. He immediately turned back to face the man and speak to him but there was no one there. He stood up and walked to the spot where the man had been standing and looked around through the trees, no trace of his existence. He walked quickly around the trailer and looked up and down the road, no one there at all. When he looked through the trailer's screen door to ask me if I'd just seen a man outside, his face was as white as a proverbial sheet. Later, he was talking to an older man who spent a lot of time camping at the park and broached the subject of apparitions in the area. The man replied, "Oh yeah, you know this whole parish was flooded after Katrina. There're hundreds of ghosts swimming around here." Bill asked a park ranger if anyone else had ever reported seeing anything like he had witnessed. The ranger said he wasn't at liberty to say but, in his words, "It wouldn't surprise me one bit."

As time goes on, I will relate other true ghostly encounters and I would love for you to share any experiences you have had.

Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!


Photographs on today's blog are copyrighted by my husband, William Ahearn.

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