Pulling in to the town of Spring Mills, Pennsylvania is like taking a step back into time. Old houses, barns and out buildings constructed at the turn of the century sit on quaint properties and quiet streets. It is a mind boggling change from urban sprawl and big city neighborhoods. A world apart.
Walt’s house sits in the eerie shadow of Egg Hill, a tangled slope of mysterious dead-falls and hardwood trees. The back porch has a sticky screen door that slams shut onto a hewn, wooden-floored mud room, whose worn traffic-way has no doubt seen the coming and goings of generations of feet. The sound of the slamming screen door immediately transported me back to rural Indiana where my grandmother had a similar back porch that also channeled generations of visitors into a warm and well lighted kitchen, always filled with the same sweet smells of fresh baked goods and simmering chicken like the ones that greeted me as I stepped into Walt’s Pennsylvania farmhouse.
During the first night of my visit, a gentle rain fell on the house’s tin roof. I laid awake for several hours listening to the melodic pattering, punctuated by an occasional groan or rustic creak whispered from invisible corners of the household. The walls and floors and ceilings were as alive as the tree branches that gently brushed the lead glass windows, making clicking sounds with their spring green fingertips.
After a while, having finally been accepted by the house-ghosts, I drifted off into a deep and tranquil country sleep.