The old farmhouse stood on the rise of a gentle sloping hillside
My parents rented the farmhouse from the owner and Italians
leased the surrounding land, they were potato farmers who drove my mum nuts
driving their tractors back and forth passed her gate
It had been the landlord’s family home, and it had been empty ever since his mother’s death
we rented it on the proviso we would take care of her old farm cat Tom.
So not only did we get a great place to live but another cat as well.
We had a dog, a white Samoyed named Snippy, Dad used to wash him in the wheel barrow
and my sister and I would push him around in it for fun.
Snippy loved it…sitting there tall and proud as we pushed him around.
He was a rascal and loved to get out and explore,
one day he wasn’t in the yard, the gate had been left open and off he went,
we were frantic thinking we’d lost him.
Only to have one of the Italian farmers come in from the fields,
pushing a wheel barrow, and there sitting proudly in the front was Snippy.
“He just jump in,” the farmer said with a shrug. “He no get out. I didn’t know what to do so I push him round to you.”
Living in the farmhouse was like living in another era, the kitchen was huge
with an old wood stove that warmed up beautifully in winter but was hellish in summer.
It never cooked evenly and mum hated it, we had to burn briquettes in a pot belly like stove in an outdoor shed if we wanted hot water.
But none of this mattered it was a wonderland in which imaginations could run wild
and it was haunted.
The old lady would come visit me some nights,
she would sit on the side of my bed,
the bed would lower under her see through weight…never did get that
and her cold invisible hand would gently sweep the hair back from my temple.
Under any other circumstances it would have been soothing,
instead I lay there scared to death, unable to move,
my heart thumping hard in my chest urging me to get the hell out
but I never did. I just held my breath, hoping she would leave
and sooner or later sleep would overwhelm me.
She liked to annoy me on Saturday mornings too, it was my job to clean the kitchen and I could
feel her hovering and sometimes I would see her, she was just a flick of movement in the corner of my eye.
Just checking to see if I was doing it right I suppose.
There were many unexpected happenings in that farmhouse at the end of Ash Road.
It was a wonderful place that for a short time took me to worlds I never believed possible
and I do wonder if the old lady sits, with old Tom on her lap, staring out the window of their farmhouse, still taking in the view across the gentle sloping landscape.