I used to believe I was more than a novice at following my intuition. But now, not so much. I learned the hard way that the gentle voice of intuition is no match against the roar of desire.
I never felt at home in our new-build Victorian that lacked old-style character, so I lobbied my husband, Mike, to make a move. I’d found the most charming two-story with Thomas Kinkade appeal, a view of the river and gardens galore. My heart had fallen in love!
The day we went to see it, the owners, an older couple, gave us a tour. They first led us into a tiny foyer-like room where old black and white photos of their dead relatives lined the walls. They called it The Crypt. It was creepy, but the photos would, of course, be taken down and leave with the owners. I turned my attention outside the window, where glorious wisteria vines were decked out in their finery, loaded with purple blooms festooning in clusters off of tendrils as thick as tree trunks.
The wife eventually led us upstairs to see the bedrooms. As she spoke, I stood at the master bedroom window and ogled the mesmerizing view of the river, the enchanting border gardens in the backyard, the thick stance of glorious oaks and elms that bordered the property, and then down at the large koi pond that butted up against the house directly below. Mike asked her about the pond and its upkeep. She brushed it off as something she knew little about and launched into a tale about the notable history of the property.
We moved in that fall, amidst the blazing hued piles of autumn leaves, and got ourselves settled. Not long after, a storm uprooted an enormous oak tree on the border of our property. It didn’t come crashing to the ground, though. Instead, it lay suspended among the thick stand of trees, somewhat miraculously held up by wisteria vines. We called in a tree expert, who informed us that every single tree on that side of the property had been choked to death by the wisteria vines and were only still standing because of them.
Late one night, when I sat in the living room reading, a bat dive-bombed my head and chased me upstairs where I hid behind the shower curtain until Mikecaptured it. Come spring, I found the bloody remains of all the koi fish scattered over the rocks on the border of the pond. They’d been massacred by an egret. A raven crashed into our slider and fell dead on the deck, right before my eyes. I felt as though our house could serve as the muse for a dark Edgar Allan Poe poem.
And then the heat of late spring came, and with it a series of alarming screams in the middle of the night. It sounded like a baby was being murdered. We frantically ran out back and searched with a flashlight. The screams were coming from the pond, so Mike trained the light over the surface of the water and the screaming stopped. When he pulled the light away, it started up again. Zeroing in, we spotlighted a frog that “played dead” and sank the second the light found it. When Mike pulled the light away, the frog swam back to the surface and screamed yet again. Those shrill, shrieking vocalizations continued night after night throughout the summer. Because we were mere steps from the river, any attempt to rid ourselves of those frogs was fruitless.
Come summer, we decided to throw a barbeque for our family, friends and new neighbors, and I called the house’s former owners to invite them. When the woman answered, I told her who I was. After a moment of silence on the other end, she asked, “You’re calling about the frogs, aren’t you?”