Writing about the lake back home reminds me of what was good and magical about childhood. For the longest time the winding road to my father’s house curved through orange groves, cow pastures, and bits of woods. At one particular curve, if you looked quickly enough to the left, you could see through the trees a house.
The white paint worn almost completely away, the windows were broken, the front steps caved in, and the front door ajar. The grass grew up to that door and tree branches rested on the splintering roof. From the car window, that’s all I could see.
“A witch lives there,” my father said, and I believed him.
I believed him when he told me the smoke on the other side of the lake were Indian smoke signals. I believed him when he told me the hot air balloon races over our house carried Santa’s elves. At least I didn’t believe him when he told me he had found me as an egg left behind in a swamp.
The witch’s house is no longer there. The woods are now a cul-de-sac with well-kept, ordinary houses, and I’ve never met the people who live in them. But I never met the witch either.