Harry Loves Benny. OUT in the Woods. Part 7!

I walked fast, as I wanted to make camp before the night fell. Always better to set up early enough so one had a chance to just sit and listen, to observe and of course to check out the area. I went up into the woods near the Mudhole where the spring flowed freely. To think that just 45 years ago one could drink the cool waters of a spring around Goon City. Harry always said “be careful camping around a spring. No telling what may come up in the night, find you there a stranger and do a job on you.” Well I didn’t know where else to go. Couldn’t go too far on the tracks as night was coming. At least here was a water supply and a pond to take a wash in. Maybe whatever gathers near the spring will be good, rather than night-time things that wanted to play around and scare a person half to death. Found a site to pitch the tent, up on the hill a few layers behind the spring. There was a grove of fluffy pines and the ground was soft from the fallen needles, smooth under foot and clean. I gathered that few bugs would be crawling around like over in the grass. Looking up I noticed there weren’t many pine cones overhead to drop on the tent and scare me awake or any dead branches that would drop on me killing me on the spot and no one would find me until sometime after I had rotted away. The end of Benny, poor guy was careless in pitching his tent, hit by a dead branch and killed on the spot. Rotted away, food for any beast that came around, for maggots and flies. Dead as a door nail out in the woods.

My mind wouldn’t let me rest over and over I heard the same thing, “So are you going to kill people with your art?” “Snake Oil is very evil and if you stay there longer you will be evil too.” Over and over the words spoken by people whom I thought were my friends. Folks that I had helped and that had helped me. People who now were rejecting me and rejecting me not for anything that I had done but only because they had heard the Snake Oil was of the devil. I cried again nothing I could do would stop their voices from coming through. I just wanted to be home, home with Harry. I wanted to tell him all about what had happened and ask his advice about what I could do. Again and again I knew that there was no longer any room for me in the run down section of town, I no longer had a home there with my artist friends. Maybe I just am growing out from them. Moving in other directions that they can never comprehend.
But I will tell you one thing, if I thought that someone was into doing the magic thing and someone was of the devil then I would be as nice as pie to that person. Would never cross them and smile whenever I saw them coming. Course I would stay out of their way as much as I could you know keep a low profile, not be in their face or eyesight too often. Damn I thought too bad I didn’t know a few whammys some of those bitches in Goon City would be the first to go. Funny you know somet things never change. As I look back I remember that one of my biggest tormentors was Sonny. Now Sonny came to Goon City from Salt Lake City to live with his father Old Edgar. His mother had left Old Edgar and went out west and took up with the Mormons. So that is how Sonny was brought up, a Mormon. No wonder he was leading the charge against me. I was living with someone who practiced witchcraft or so he had heard, never met Harry nor Harry him but formed his opinion and damned both of us. Even though we had been best of friends and one would think that he  would have expanded his mind a bit further than the superstition and gossip.

I woke up, there was something outside the tent. I felt it first, damn stop my heart from beating so fast. My hairs stood up on all ends, prickling me all over. It was a rustling all around coming up close to the tent and then backing off. What the hell is that rustling, outside of my tent, is this, whatever, looking for something, hoping to kill, hoping to eat, whatever it was, it was out there and just a thin layer of tent separated us. The rustling changed to more like the sound of a small whirl wind rather than an animal, on second thought, which some say are always wiser but in this case it may not be so true. If it wasn’t an animal making that noise it was either something from the great beyond or fairies. Several shrieks made me jump upright. What the hell could that be? But do fairies come out at night, yes said my book of books that told me about things that I didn’t know. Night time is the best time for fairies as there is no sun to burn their fragile wings, or bright light to hurt their little eyes. I hope to all the dickens that it is a fairy not something from the great beyond out to do me harm. Something that would eat me up quicker than a big black bear. I listened some more, the sound didn’t get any closer nor did it go away but was joined by more of the same sound. How I wanted to peek out of the tent flap and see what was out there but the flap was facing in the other direction from the whirling swishing rustling sound and I didn’t want to stick my head out too much, just in case it was something from the great beyond trying to trick me or fairies wishing to carry me away to their land. With no one around to throw a left shoe, dirt from a mole hill or bonnet at the fairies I would be a goner. Gone forever with no way back to these parts. What could that rustling be maybe I should have listened to Harry and not camped out here near the spring. Maybe I set up right in the path of what ever was out there and now they were pissed. After all this was their territory.

I heard a low wind sucking sound come up out of nowhere almost like the sound that a vacuum cleaner makes, louder it came into the area where the rustling then swirling, rustling sound was coming from and suddenly as it came there was quiet. The sounds stopped, I didn’t even hear the crickets from the meadow down near the pond. A feeling of safety came over me, I knew that I could go to sleep now with none of that troubling on the outside of my tent. What ever there was out there was sucked up and deposited somewhere else. I fell asleep and loud talking accompanied me. My mind didn’t want to settle down. Something was still out there and it wanted me to know that it was. I woke suddenly to the sound of a Screech Owl. You know at first the sound that critter makes can scare your pants down but when you realize what it is your heart stops beating so rapidly. Better stay put as the owl has all sorts of ideas attached to it. Harry told me that years ago he had an owl as a friend. Lived out in the old barn and came right up to him and sat on his arm. Always told him about all that it found while cruising around at night. Now Harry wasn’t afraid of the owl, he knew the owl and owl knew him. Check out all about this owl. (1)

Harry came through my mind with every hoot of the owl. It was him I said, he is here watching out for me. Chased the evil away and now sits up in the tree. Go to sleep, baby in the woods. All alone with things that go bump in the dark trying to get under your covers and skin. But I am here up in the tree, waiting for anything to come along sniff, sniff, fresh meat to eat. Brains to pick ,you can bet the house I am looking out for you. I slept and slept good. The birds woke me in the early morning with their getting ready for the day chatter. I made it through the night of course I knew only with the help of Harry the owl.

After taking apart my tent and packing up my stuff. I went down to the mud hole took off all my clothes and sat down in the cool waters. A soothing wash off is just what I needed after a night in my small pup tent. I felt strange about last night. I dreamt that I was at a church supper with people I didn’t know. I just kept eating and eating as the food on the buffet table was food that I never ate much of. The folks at my table kept laughing at me for eating so much but I said “Just maybe there won’t be any food tomorrow so I had better eat it today. I felt sick to my stomach remembering the dream and seeing in my mind the food that I shoveled in my mouth. I lit a fire made some tea and ate the bread and sandwich filling I had with me. I still had a long walk ahead and the hoot of the owl made me realize that I had better not hang out too long. Tucking some Mugwort in my shoes as Harry had told me, “Mugwort will relieve the weary traveler, protect you against exhaustion, save you from wild beasts, the hot sun and other harms.” Harry used Mugwort a lot in his magic. It grew like weeds up near the old farm. Folks back in the day around here used it for their magic. Someday further along we will try it with your dreaming. But for now just put it in your shoe. (2)

I wanted to be home back at Harry’s safe from all that which was troubling me. Safe from the bad memories of Goon City and safe from all the things that went bump in the night trying to stir me up last night. I knew now there was no going back. Those things of the night knew me, and the folks of Goon City despised me. Looking at the sun up in the sky I knew it was 8:00AM. There was a 8:25 train that would be crossing the viaduct so I had better wait that out until it was clear of here. That was a place no one wanted to be out crossing the viaduct when the train come through. A very dangerous place to be even if the viaduct had a side-walk way just the rumble of the train may be enough to make any faint hearted person jump off. Of course no one ever did it that we knew of for certain but some say that Mary Talbert did and others say that Harry murdered her and ate her guts even. There was a mess of blackberries growing down the other side of the Mudhole. Use to be houses back there many years ago Harry told me. The berries always grew about here. The native peoples cultivated the berries and the blackberry was food for the early settlers. Harry told me before I left, ” The berries over near the old houses are still large and luscious so on your way back pick a batch. I’ll make some jelly to put by for the winter.” Damn, I looked over the berries and said I will need to do a lot of picking to even get enough. Not a very pleasant task with all the pickers just waiting to prick you, attach to your clothing and cut your hands. Just pretend that you are somewhere else and set your mind on the black fruit and pick away. Get past the thorns honey as this berry is delicious. (3) Gotta watch out for bears when one is in the berry patch. They won’t like you taking their food.

Instead of blackberries I just may eat you.

I filled the brown paper bag that I had gotten from Sid’s market. Sid was nice and even asked me if I wanted a ride home No I needed to walk to clear my head to shake out the dirt that had been dished at me. Queenie Kloo stood near his register drooling while staring at my crouch. Yea, Queenie that’s all me down there. Not wearing underwear today and is a nice big dreamer you see hanging down the side of my leg. About right now if we could arrange it I could use a quickie in the back room. At least a bit of something good to come out of my visit to Goon City. Suddenly I remembered Harry’s words that I was not to have sex until he said so and then I could spill all over by the light of the full moon. Sorry Queenie maybe next time, the way you look at a man’s crotch area one knew that you would give out such a good lick and suck. I got hard just thinking of it.

One of these days I’ll come back down here to explore the back woods and see what I can find. I should ask Harry about cutting a path through the woods so a person wouldn’t have to cross over the viaduct and could keep cool on a hot summer day by going through the woods. Why maybe one of the old houses is still standing and could be fitted for a place to sleep over for travelers. The stream is still good to bathe in wouldn’t drink the water unless I was hard up for a cool drink or boiled it first. One never knows what someone up the stream from here is putting in the waterway. That stream came all the way down from the Donald’s old abandoned farm and it runs all along Terp’s road. Folks around here always said, that’s a funny little stream, it doesn’t add any of its water to the river but flows away from it, ending up in the Mudhole then on to Flat Brook and on and on it finally meets the ocean. Now I am not certain about that as I never followed the stream and have to say maybe it ends up in Colchester.

Swede’s Mill

Harry told me that the few houses down through the woods were way back in the day a settlement called Swensonville. Some Swedes had come over from the old country purchased the land and Swen Swenson’s brother Halgar built a mill near the river. I think Swen referred to it as a tub mill or a Swede’s mill. Nothing fancy but got all their corn ground. Times were tough back there in the woods and Lydia Morganson told Harry this story. “Coming up I had 3 brothers and 2 sisters, times were hard. We had to work from the morning to the night fall. Work, work, work that was the motto that should have been engraved in stone and set near the road into our settlement. Go to school forget it. Too far away. I got my reading and writing from Mrs. Swenson who would gather us children together and teach us what she thought we needed to know. I could count to 1,000 by the time I was ten. Never knew where that would get me and nobody really wanted to hear me count. Sure they said but by 150 they had taken off. Over near the Hockumn river we put in our cornfields. Grew lots of corn back there. Everyone pitched in on that. When the corn was ready we brought it up to Halgar Swenson and he ground it into flour. Out of that flour everyone in the little settlement got a few sacks. We worked hard for those sacks of flour. Near our house we had a big garden. We grew lots of nice vegetables that Ma and my sisters canned for the winter months. On night while Daddy was at the kitchen table his favorite place to sit, look at books and smoke his pipe he announced, “Times are too tough out here in the woods. I heard the last time I was in town that Mr. Beavans was hiring at the brass factory and paying a decent wage, I am going into town to see if what I heard is true.” Us kids went under the care of Aunt Gert and off went my parents to check out the town. My little brother cried when Ma left. He thought he would never see them again. He didn’t for the life of him know what a town was. He hadn’t been to one yet and I had only been there twice in my life. Daddy usually went and carried back what we didn’t have in the woods. He told us, “You know a five-pound bag of sugar can very quickly feel like 10 lbs after awhile of walking.

I’m sure glad that Daddy made that decision to move into town. We moved into a company house that was a two family box kind. 6 rooms on one side and 6 rooms on the other. Down in the cellar was the toilet and if you wanted to take a bath you used a large stone set tub. There were two tubs side by side. We washed our clothes on one side and rinsed them on the other. Hung everything out in the back yard to dry. A person doesn’t know what cold is until you hang out wet clothes on a cold winters day. Mittens forget them they just get in the way and turn to ice quickly. No bathroom upstairs like some folks had but at least it wasn’t an outhouse like back in the woods. We heated with a kerosene stove in the kitchen and one in the living room. One side of the stove was gas for cooking and the other had the kerosene burners for heat. Never any heat up in the bedrooms but what little came up through the vents in the floor. My brothers that were still home had their bedrooms up in the attic. Hot in the summer and cold in the winter. But they liked it up there, by themselves doing what boys of that age did. Mrs. Colley lived on the other side of our house. We kids loved to listen to her do her business, as each time she would grunt and grunt and then when the big one was let loose she would say, “Oh there it goes.” How we laughed at that. We wanted to poke a hole in the wall just a small spy hole so we could watch her doing her business but were afraid that Daddy would really get mad at us and give us a good spanking. Got no time to fix any holes in the walls around here. There is enough to do without you kids making up work for me. Besides Mrs. Colley would call the cops and old Mr. Beavans might just put us out if they found out you were spying on someone sitting on the can.


My mother and older sister got a job in the thread mill. Mother said, “I don’t miss anything about the woods except we didn’t need very much money.” We traded what we could and if we couldn’t trade well we just didn’t have it. Here I have to set aside money for the gas bill, the lights, the rent. Out there I just worked, worked and worked. Margaret and I are saving what money we can for we are going to buy this house from the company. We got to get enough as we heard it is around $1, 500 dollars.” Wow I thought no one ever listened to me count that far. Maybe they will now that they need that much money. I guess it was better here in town. Goon City had a school that I attended. Got to get an education so you can do something with your life my mother would tell me. Well what did I do? Had 3 kids and worked in the school cafeteria all my life. Now I am getting ready to retire and have nothing. No pension and hardly no money set aside. Suppose it’s better than nothing what I have. I could have worked myself to death at an early age if I stayed out in the woods. My mind is still torn about it all. Would it have been better living out in the woods where a person had to work, work, work but at least one was free. Now I have bills, bills, bills. Pay for this and pay for that. Want a turkey, well go to the market and pay for it. Can’t just go out use the turkey cry tool and shoot one. I did that before. Didn’t bother me one bit. When I think back sometimes I think that it was better in the woods our group of Swedes living out there helped each other. We all were like a family back then. Don’t see much of that here in the city. Everybody is too busy looking each other over and talking. Even at the church. Everyone looks, looks, looks. I heard yesterday that Swen Swenson had died. He was a good man.”

One thing that always helps me travel long distances was the telling of stories to myself. Sort of allowed me to sail along rather than trudge. Finally I came to the Elderberry Tree at the start of the path up to Harry’s compound. We would dry the berries to use over the winter as a syrup. I gave the elder tree a bow as I passed by greeting it for fairies, Goddess, witches, and anything else that folks through the ages have said either dwells in the tree or hang out near it. Death and healing, the devil, the Goddess, the old lady who lived in the tree protecting it from all harm, all were at one time or another associated with the Elder Tree. Harry wasn’t home when I came in the door. How I was glad to be here and a feeling of real safety came over me. I unpacked the knapsack of the groceries that I had brought back from Goon City, Sugar, Cocca, 3 tubs of oats, salt, bay leaves, pectin for jelly, large tub of lard and a dark chocolate bar for Harry. That was a weakness of his dark chocolate. We would go back into Goon City at the beginning of the month to get our real supplies. Guess I wanted to feel like my trip to town was not just about me but something for both of us. 6:00 PM and still no Harry. Now I began to wonder where he was. Usually at this time we are making dinner and then sitting around with Harry telling me stories of how things were that he could see. With about 2 hrs. left of daylight and I thought I should take a walk up to the corn field. Maybe he was still up there harvesting the corn. As I walked I noticed that the birds were not flying away at my approach, the squirrels were not scampering across the ground and fleeing up a tree, and the little brown cotton tail rabbit I saw didn’t run away in fear that I was an angry old Farmer Mc Gregor “out to get me for eating his carrots.” Odd I thought what could be going on. Maybe these animals had seen me enough to know that I would just go about my business of walking to where I was going and not paying them any mind.

We grew corn up near the Donald’s old farm. Corn to last us all winter. Harry showed me how to work a grinding mill and that was my job when the corn was dried and ready to be ground down into flour. This photograph is a good example of what Harry’s mill looked like. It was handed down from his father and Harry didn’t know where he got it. We grew a lot of corn and ground a lot of cornmeal with that grinder. Cornmeal was what we had to make bread. Growing wheat was near impossible around these parts as the settlers down in Swensonville could tell anyone.

Harry wasn’t anywhere to be found in the field. I called his name, I whistled our call which we used when not wanting any humans to know it was us calling each other, I searched. Wonder where that man could be. Checked out the old farm-house and barn no Harry. The door to the barn swung shut and I jumped a mile. What the fuck, rather jumpy today. Suddenly I felt that I was alone, not just without the presence of another but alone in all ways that alone one could be. Everything around me felt big, real big, big and looming over me. Big and ready to smother me, big as big could be. Not dark and foreboding big but just, Hey little person you are alone as alone as alone can be. You are very tender, young too fresh, you are an easy prey, surrounding you all around is easy small fry. Something bad was happening and I fell down sobbing, and all around sadness over came me, something crushing me in hands so big that my whole body was being smothered by the rough callous alone. I had to move, get out of this place,I couldn’t get up from the ground I couldn’t move in that direction, something pushing me down, can’t get up to walk so I started to crawl. Crawling back home, god I will never make it. I laid as still as I could, trying to think only with good energy singing the song that Harry had taught me when in danger. “Dance the moon and the stars all around, lift me up from the ground, Turn me back and turn me out, fears be gone take to flight.” I jumped up and ran, how I ran down the path, ran like I couldn’t run fast enough, ran like I was in a marathon race. I stumbled and tumbled once or twice ran though the compound gate and into the house. I looked up and there was Harry sitting at the table laughing eating his chocolate bar. So you made it that’s good, let’s get busy here we got a lot of work to do with you before morning comes.


Hoot hoot hoot, The Owl.











(1) The Screech Owl see HERE.  Includes a tape of the owl’s voice.

Owl Mythology from Around the world see HERE.
Owls in American Indian Culture click HERE.












Athena holding her owl.
Athena was the goddess of wisdom and also of military victory. She was the patron of Athens and was born wearing full armor. She stepped out from the head of Zeus. Athena was involved with shape shifting and she appeared as an owl.

The Wise Owl, a woodland myth is a story about when Owl was made by the everything maker. Check it out HERE.


















For a very excellent article on Mugwort see, Sharon Hubbs Kreft’s Mugwort Madness.
















Artemisia vulgaris









Pliny the elder 23AD to 79AD

Pliny the elder wrote of mugwort, “Travelers who carried Mugwort would never become weary, nor would “evil medicine” trouble them.”

(3) Blackberries:
Preparation: Rinse very briefly under cold water just before using because berries tend to absorb water
Nutritional value: Blackberries, with just 62 calories per cup, are a great source for vitamins C and K and fiber.
Fun facts: According to Ozarks folklore, if it rains on June 13, the blackberry harvest will be puny. In England, the local tradition dictates that you never eat blackberries after the end of September because the devil has peed on them. Well, then.
Medicinal Blackberries: The leaf is more commonly used as a medicinal herb, but the root also has medicinal value. The root-bark and the leaves are astringent, depurative, diuretic, tonic and vulnerary. They make an excellent alternative medicine for dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and cystitis.
The most astringent part is the root. Orally, they are used to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers and gum inflammations. A decoction of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash. The presence of large amounts of tannins that give blackberry roots and leaves an astringent effect useful for treating diarrhea are also helpful for soothing sore throats. Medicinal syrup is also made from Blackberry, using the fruit and root bark in honey for a cough remedy.

The blackberry is a symbol of envy, lowliness, and remorse. This is because its thorns catch you, trip you up and hold on to you. Blackberry bushes and other brambles can take over habit and choke out other plants, the way a greedy person may try to take things from others. So people in Shakespeare’s day called lawyers bramble bushes, because they grab on to you and don’t let go until they’ve drawn blood.
How to cure the whooping-cough. Pass the cougher under the arching branch of the Blackberry and recite; In bramble out cough, here I leave the whooping-cough. Don’t know if it works or not and certainly don’t care to catch the whooping cough to find out.

To learn what you really need to know about Blackberries check out the article by “Wildman” Steve Brill, Forging for Blackberries.

(4) The Mill

The above is a grinding mechanism in an old Swedish mill.

Check out this essay, historically how to site a mill found HERE.

(5)Elder Sambucus Nigra

Want to know more about the Elder check out this LINK to A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve. Learn all about the history of this amazing tree, its uses, Parts that are used medicinally and recipes for those who are so inclined. We here at AFQOTP swear by the Elderberry syrup that we use to ward off colds and the flu. Especially fascinating is the folklore surrounding the Elder.

Want to make your own Elderberry Syrup, (you’ll be glad you do) just google it. Now the syrup that we made had, Elderberries, cinnamon, honey, and ginger. Taken daily it will ward off a cold and the flu.

Harry believed that the Elder was a most sacred tree.

Why to take your syrup.

In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study, elderberry was shown to be effective for treating Influenza B.[7] People using the elderberry extract recovered much faster than those only on a placebo. The study was published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine.
A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. This current study shows that, indeed, it works for type A flu, reports lead researcher Erling Thom, with the University of Oslo in Norway.[8]
Thom’s findings were presented at the 15th Annual Conference on Antiviral Research.
The study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 millilitres of extract and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.
Patients in the extract group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. Also, the extract group had no drowsiness, the downside of many flu treatments. The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays.
It’s likely that antioxidants called flavonoids—which are contained in the extract—stimulate the immune system, writes Thom. Also, other compounds in elderberry, called anthocyanins, have an anti-inflammatory effect; this could explain the effect on aches, pains, and fever.
Elderberry extract could be an “efficient and safe treatment” for flu symptoms in otherwise healthy people and for those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, Thom adds.
Russell Greenfield, MD, a leading practitioner of integrative medicine and medical director of Carolinas Integrative Health, advocates treating flu with black elderberry, he says in a news release. “It can be given to children and adults, and with no known side effects or negative interactions,” he says.

“But don’t expect grandma’s elderberry jam” to ease flu symptoms like body aches, cough, and fever, he warns. “Extract is the only black elderberry preparation shown effective in clinical studies.”

(7). Zakay-Rones, Zichria; Noemi Varsano, Moshe Zlotnik, Orly Manor, Liora Regev, Miriam Schlesinger, Madeleine Mumcuoglu (1995). “Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama” (PDF). J Altern Complement Med 1 (4): 361–9. doi:10.1089/acm.1995.1.361. PMID 9395631. http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/acm.1995.1.361. Retrieved September 8, 2009.

(8) Z Zakay-Rones, E Thom, T Wollan and J Wadstein. “Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A