Anita Mechler: The Witch’s Cabin

The witch’s cabin sits atop a ravine. We are her guests here. The locals see us walking the nearby roads and wave with ease. I hesitate to return their surprising friendliness with the suspicions of an overripe urbanite. 

It’s been hard to trust the intentions of strangers during this modern plague. So many people are willing to put the lives of others in danger for petty, selfish reasons. Our country is being run by a megalomaniac wannabe dictator. And there are those who deeply admire that, much to the consternation of the vulnerable that surround them and live within them. 

We who know, we who see, we who have long questioned the motives of our kin and enemy alike remain wary. 

This morning we walked through the woods to an abandoned school and playground with rotting chalkboards and jungle gyms now planters for wild trees. We wondered aloud about the reasons for its decrepitude: Where did the children go? Did they grow up and move away, the community around them aging into obsolescence? What is the history of this place? We are spoiled in the city; the fulfillment of countless curiosities satisfied at the touch of a few buttons. 

The motley assortment of houses here hold their stories close and although their inhabitants state pleasantries easily, their presumed secrets are tightly bound. We are still outsiders here.

Standing in the enclosed screened porch of the witch’s cabin next to haunted dolls and repurposed decorative tree limbs, I contemplate the overhang of the steep slope of trees, their leaves leeching life bursting with the colors of release. I wonder about the witch: Did she carve this haven easily? I think about the neighborhood abuzz with our presence. Does some silent alarm trip when we walk paths unfamiliar to us?

We are all ambitious independent people women. We have carved our own existence and histories. We find solace in what remains here: the cliche comfort of a beach town surrounded by the jarring ugly displays of pumping industry. Our idyllic vacation from the city on the horizon smells of rust as fresh winds pass through the whispering trees. 

They tell us to stay for as long as we like, to let our hearts rest here for a while, but our home is elsewhere; it calls us back.

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