You may not know what this means, but I should have.
And if you don’t see anything particular in this photo – well – I didn’t see anything either looking at it live …. until I focused.
Volia! GRAPES! Honest to God GRAPES!
I was raised in a vineyard from age 8-12, I spent my summers picking, cleaning and packing grapes, and even one time stomped them when Dad tried making wine with the encouragement of a Greek townsman. (Update: the Greek’s sweet wine turned out fine; Daddy’s bottles of tan dreggy vinegar sat under the house for the rest of his life..)
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That’s it for Flora and there is no Fauna … but something came up this week that leads to a tangential topic….
TWO GHOST STORIES …. these are NOT made up.
ONE – When Austin and I bought our house in Toorak, one of our neighbors – Etta – left for the US to work a few months afterwards. Her husband – Fotu – was a wonderful neighbor to us. Etta was working in the US and sending money home, and she was gone for years. I was really happy a few months ago when I saw she had come home. Austin and I were in Suva for the day and we saw her. Etta had come down from her house and was in the road as we got out of our truck. Austin and I spent a few moments exchanging pleasantries with her. Then a few weeks ago we heard she was back in the US and she died. When Austin saw Fotu last weekend he gave our condolences, and mentioned that we were sad Etta had gone back to the US, that we had been so happy to see her here recently. “That could not be,” he said. “Etta never came back from the US. She was not here.” Austin’s conclusion: we were talking with a ghost.**
TWO – When Austin and I bought the farm, the price was amazingly low … and that is because the house was haunted. Jai Karan, the owner, had killed himself in one of the rooms, and then the son-in-law got cancer and died within two years. He didn’t die in the house, but he was dragged from the house kicking and screaming because he didn’t want to leave. One of these fellows was believed to be still hanging around: lights would go on without explanation, and so on — it was enough to put off the neighbors who otherwise would have bought this place. When we moved in, they all just waited to see which one of us would get sick and die first. It didn’t take Austin long to realize the place really was haunted – he has felt and seen ghostly figures around him since he was a boy, and he started seeing the ghost.plus a few others. The ghost was still up to his lights trick. He played with the radio. (This was all before we moved here full time – and when I was here, I never noticed anything odd.) Anyway, Austin just prays for ghosts and befriends them and doesn’t worry about it. A number weeks passed without the ghost showing himself, and then came the kicker witnessed by three people: the boys were playing a CD of Hindi music when Austin arrived and said, “it looks like the ghost is gone” – at that very moment, the CD got stuck voicing “lahsoo…lahsoo…lahsoo” – which is Fijian lasu lasu lasu – liar liar liar. Freak out! So Austin had another chat with the ghost, assuring him that he was always welcome and he didn’t need to waste the energy to show himself. Finally he realized that part of the problem might be that Jai Karan had never had his final prayers. Austin asked the pandit to come, but he said Austin could do it – just take the prayer place apart and put the articles in water; so Austin and Michael lovingly dismantled the prayer place, took the articles to the river and said prayers for him.
We really love the former owner, because he put so much love into this land it has made it easy for Austin to continue developing it. After awhile Austin was really curious what Jai Karan had looked like – was it the person he had seen as a ghost? He asked the daughter if he could see a photo…. and the family sent us this framed photograph! Austin says, YES – that’s him.
We have this photo hanging in our living room. Isn’t he a sweet looking man?! If you’re going to have a ghost, it is helpful to have a sweet one.
** Anyway, reanalyzing story one – to hear Austin tell it, he and I both talked with a ghost in broad daylight. Austin, maybe – but me? I don’t think so, even though I KNOW what I saw! Finally I came up an alternative explanation: perhaps Austin and I saw someone in the street who looked just like Etta, and perhaps being Fijian she was too polite to tell us that we were mistaken.
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Happy week, everybody.
And to those who enjoy it: Happy Halloween.
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