Matiere Opaque : Ghost Stories Greeley's Rancho Arcana

Left For Buy, Right For Sell

At Home

A very short story:

My maternal great-great-grand-aunt, Sara Jane Jenkins, was a woman of many interests. During her life she took up teaching, literature, poetry and art.

Hanging on my wall is a pastel sketch she made of a country trail rounding the crest of a hill beneath a tree in winter. I don't know if this represents a scene from life or the imagination, but I find it an attractive piece, suggesting both melancholy and hope.

The story behind this picture is simple. According to my Granny, the picture tilts just before something important happens, such as a death in the family. Her explanation (always delivered with a sly smile) was that Aunt Sara Jane is warning us to take care and prepare.

I've only found it tilted once (a full two inches out of plumb) since it came into my possession, and that was right before a very difficult financial transaction. I did take note that it was tilted to the right--so perhaps right means "bad" and left means "good"?

I've hung it near my front door so that I can note its position before I leave for the day. My celestial barometer, so to speak. If it's tilted to the right, then close the windows, lock the doors, and back to bed; if it's tilted to the left, then it's time to buy a lottery ticket.

And if it's not tilted at all, I think of the artist with appreciation and I get on with the day.


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I can jump right in on this one and say that there have been many times when challenging things have taken place in my family and the picture didn't budge a hair. But then again, my Granny didn't claim that Sara Jane was going to spend all her time hanging around the house tipping pictures.

In any case, the way it's wired on the back makes it very easy to tip. It's so delicately balanced that it takes almost no effort at all.

Why does it tilt every now and then? I don't know. I honestly don't spend much time considering the question. When I look at it, I see it as a work of art and a welcome heirloom from someone whose life I admire.

I suppose I could re-wire it so it could never tilt again, and put an end to the matter. But then I'd also be depriving my children of an innocent family legend about a colorful aunt.

What would you do?

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