A Mysterious Bonfire
September 21, 2018 / Uncategorized
Guest Blogger: Bria Mirante
Bria works in the field of public health, is a graduate student and food blogger.
For junkies of the unexplained, there is no better evening than sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and reveling in ghost stories, myths, and mysteries. With blankets and s’mores kits in-hand, guests gathered at the farm to experience a night of storytelling that would leave many of us nervous to walk across the field to our cars when the tales were over. The sun setting behind the dense forest provided a picturesque backdrop for local professor Christine Rai as she began to share stories of regional monsters and myths. Many of these stories I had never heard before; the wretched snallygaster, the Dwayyo of Frederick, and our very own monster lurking in the Chesapeake. The sort of creatures that, though I know they aren’t real, make me afraid to put my ten toes in the bay or be out on a hike after dark. Christine spun tales seamlessly from dusk to dark, building in spine-tingling intensity as the sunset turned to black behind her. A cool, nervous air gently swept the crowd and the fire softened into a slow roll of flames and smoke, making it easy to imagine that just before the forest edge perhaps a shadowy figure was in motion. I struggled to keep my eyes and ears on Christine as all of my senses were drawn to the darkness behind her. As she described stories of the Dickerson Sasquatch I imagined the tall dark figure, staying just out of site beside the greenhouse, watching us silently. My eyes flickered back and forth between Christine and the greenhouse as I tried to convince myself that the suggestiveness of her stories was lighting up my imagination like a firefly at night. There’s nothing there, pay attention.
The News (Frederick, MD) December 8, 1965
The stories continued melodically in time with the crackle of the fire. We learned of Poolesville’s “The Watcher”, a gaunt, grey man with muddy feet and unwavering eyes appearing and disappearing to travelers along Poolesville’s rural roads. Christine opened the floor for guests to share their unexplained experiences and become storytellers themselves. One by one, audience members approached the fire and shared stories of their own until farm owner, Kevin Salmeron, took center stage. Kevin, in an unassuming but engaging fashion, began to tell his own story of a spiritual encounter on the farm. I got up from my seat to capture photos of Kevin as he shared his experience. He turned in the direction of the bamboo forest and turned back, I snapped photos. He raised an arm and clutched the air, simulating how far he had to reach up the bamboo to determine the height of his ghostly visitor. I took more photos, noticing the warm glow of the fire illuminating his face and how surprisingly clear he looked for being in the dark. Christine shifted nervously from one side of Kevin to the other, mentioning the eerie feeling of having her back to the forest. We all laughed and commiserated in our irrational fear if the darkness. The story drew to a close, the crowd applauded and began to make their way across the dark field to their cars.
After helping to clean up and sharing final thoughts on the evening, I too made the brisk walk to my car and prepared myself for the drive home. Hoping not to be stopped along the way by The Watcher, I slowed for crossing deer and sped up to reach the highway. I got home and in the tizzy of returning from the realm of the paranormal, back to real life I forgot completely to look at the photos I had taken over the course of the evening. Not until a few days later, when Kevin reminded me, did I scroll through all forty-five imagines of Christine and Kevin. That’s odd, I thought to myself. As the photos transition from sunset to darkness, and from Christine to Kevin as the speaker, a spot appears. A grey, illuminated, mist-like spot hovers above, in front of, and to the left of Kevin the direction of the greenhouse. In an attempt to seem calm and collected, I sent the photos to Kevin and casually mentioned the mystery spot that is floating in all of his pictures. There’s probably no cause for concern, there’s no way I caught spirit energy on camera! Could this be explained by some worldly cause? A patch of smoke, perhaps? A glitch with my iPhone camera? Doubtful. Upon closer examination…a face in the photos is obvious. There it is; a figure with long hair, prominent cheekbones, a sharp chin, and empty eyes looms above, looking in no direction in particular. This grey, ghostly figure moves from photo to photo, shifting in shape until it settles into a clear, expressionless face. I can only believe that there was something or someone, quietly listening as Kevin recounted their interaction in the bamboo forest for the audience. Take a look at the photos below and let us know what you think.
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