A ghostly green glow

Living in Balance
By Jenipher Appleton

Summer was gone but the good weather lingered on into golden September. It was one of those lovely, almost autumn weekends that found us at the cottage on Three Mile Lake in Muskoka. Saturday passed pleasantly and dusk came relatively early. There was a slight chill in the air so my mother, my dad, my friend Debbie and I sat close to the open-hearth fireplace. At the ripe old age of eleven, it seemed to me that the gathering darkness and flickering flames were setting the mood for one of my father’s choice ghost stories.
Gradually the logs were consumed by the fire and shadows deepened in the room. There were no other cottagers in the bay that weekend so all was very quiet and still, except for the chirping of crickets heard through the screens of the front windows which faced the lake.
My father’s story concerned some poor man whose dying wife had persuaded him to bury her with all her jewels. Later on, the direst of circumstances made him decide to open her grave in order to extract the jewels therefrom. Dad’s quiet, slow, monotonous voice added to the spell of the moment. Debbie and I were paying rapt attention, along with my mother who had undoubtedly heard the story countless times.
We followed the exploits of the desperate grave robber as he made his way to the cemetery. In the light of a dim kerosene lantern, he located the shallow grave and dug down until the metal of his shovel met the wood of the coffin. He opened it and in a rush of courage seized the jewels. We noted his frantic efforts to return the grave to its previous appearance. With backward looks he hurriedly made his way homeward. Now the moment of truth was near. It was almost time to bring everyone back to the present with a start; the man crept up the stairs to the bedrooms that he and his wife had shared. Suddenly…!!
At that precise moment in the story, the whole cottage where we sat was alight with an eerie green glow, which filled every corner of the room. My mother’s oil painting of an autumn forest, bathed in phosphorescence by the eerie glow, stood out on the back wall. We all spun our heads toward the source of the illumination. Down the bay sped a globular greenish-white object that grew in size and then quickly faded, leaving everyone momentarily speechless. Our senses having returned, we took to our feet and ran outside toward the lake. My father then explained that apparently a meteorite had raced through the atmosphere at the moment when one usually shouts GOTCHA! at the end of a ghost story.
Meteor showers are common throughout August and September, but we normally are able to see them as what we might call shooting stars streaking down the sky on a clear night. We had been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. It is likely that a small, perhaps baseball-sized chunk of a meteor had broken through the earth’s atmosphere and taken its path right into the lake that ghost story night. It is an event that I will never forget as long as I live! Nor am I likely to ever have one of my own ghost stories so aptly punctuated.