The town where Josepha grew up is a small New England town that lies along the beltway leaving Boston. It was first settled in the 1640s and is unique among New England towns as it is the only piece of land that the previous inhabitants had fled. They told those first intrepid explorers that they could have it if they really wanted it, but that it was ‘bad medicine’. Something was there that their Shaman could not control.
These first settlers were a lively bunch of Puritans; they were the so-called Free Thinking Puritans, who accepted the tenets of a simplified religion, but were disturbed by excess of any sort, including excess of zealotry. Thus, they avoided the conflicts that marred Salem’s early years, and lent that towns such notoriety as to cause her to be among the most sought out tourist stops in modern New England.
Wilton’s population considered themselves to be saner, and therefore more virtuous for abstaining from the sort of religious fervor that would cause one to be unduly suspicious of widows and orphans and eccentric strangers. After all, they had all been eccentric strangers in this new land.
The first settlers couldn’t see anything really wrong with this plot of land that became their town, though there were, now and then, a few odd disappearances among their population. Generally, those people who had disappeared would return months, or even years later, with unbelievable stories to tell. Let me tell you that story telling was highly valued among these people. Not that they would countenance a liar, except around the hearth in the evening, when boredom might otherwise have been a problem. As you know, the devil does find things for bored hands to do.
Life at that time was precarious at best, and these settlers were a stoic lot. They had to be. The labor to survive was never-ending, and few people had time to consider how odd it was that a neighbor whom they had known for quite a while had disappeared and then come back ten years later, talking all manner of foolishness about what life would be like a hundred years hence. Some of them would travel a few hundred years into the past, and come home bewildered and glad to be back. At least they had some interesting stories to tell. Most of the towns people thought those stories had their origins in a cask of hard liquor, and tended to feel sorry for the families of the returnees.
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, some people speculated that there were dozens of ley lines that crossed certain areas of the town. A few university students made a project of attempting to measure those lines and determine their intersections. Most of these university students came to the conclusion that there could be countless such lines crossing at the top of Wayfarers Park, right under the bench, as described in When Mother Calls.
The bench is still a beautiful place to sit on a summer evening. The hill is high enough that you can see all the colors of the sunset, as there is no obstruction between you and the horizon. The view can be spectacular. At night, there are often a few people peering up at the stars, through binoculars and telescopes. Some people have said that they do not like to do this from that place alone at night. There are tales of star-gazers being swept up into the sky and coming back with far fetched tales of Martians and Venusians and Jupitarians, and who knows what all else. However, no one believes these stories, especially those people who believe the earth is really flat. It is simply that people who tend to wool-gather may find their imaginations enhanced by the location. At least this is what people tell each other about that spot.
If you come into town on I-93, looking for an inn or a motel, the best place to stay is located on the far side of town; Bessie’s Bed and Breakfast. Don’t let the name of the place fool you. Even if it does sound a little too cute, the woman who owns it loves to cook. She spends hours preparing gourmet repasts for her dinner guests. If you want to have dinner there, as well as breakfast, it will cost a little more, but the price is worth it.
Bessie Owens claims that Maggie Brown, Josepha’s adoptive mother, has taken her all over the world, through many times and places, and Bessie always brings back recipes. She will never forget the time she served roast peacock, seasoned with apples, ginger and cinnamon, to Lord Mountback, decked in all its feathers. (The bird was served decked in all its feathers. The Lord hadn’t worn quite as many.)
She would love to serve that dish again, but where would she find a peacock, including all its feathers, around Wilton? She would have to bring it up from the past, and she is not certain how well it would survive the trip, or even if it would be legal to bring a roasted peacock for her guests at her bed and breakfast to feast on. She has served them other delicacies from all over the world, including thousand year old eggs, that really were a thousand years old. The only thing she will not serve is hamburgers, except to children.