A couple of months ago, when I was heading out to my car one sunny morning, I was caught completely off-guard by something. When I glanced eastward from the end of the Manse’s driveway toward the steeple of the former Anglican Church – a pretty white clapboard building that lies at the other end of the village, across the road from the Black River that runs through town – I was startled to see a house. And the house seemed to be located where no house now stands, though where one once did.
What the deuce was going on? How could I be seeing a house in the place where the house I think of as the old Leslie place had burned down almost three decades before?
Of course what I saw was an optical illusion, though I confess I had to drive over and cross the Black River bridge before I quite figured out what was going on. Which was: from our place it sometimes appears, in the right kind of light, like a light-coloured house that sits east and behind of the old Anglican Church, and across the river from it, is actually in front of it and way closer to us than it actually is. It looks, in fact, like it’s about where the Leslie place, a house of a similar colour, used to be.
I laughed at myself for getting caught in that optical illusion. And then I was reminded of it this past weekend, when exactly the same thing happened: on a clear bright day, looking out in that direction, I could have sworn that the light-coloured house was sitting about a hundred yards closer to us (and to the Anglican Church) than it actually was.
I hope you won’t think I’m silly if I confide in you that the first time this illusion caught me, the word “Brigadoon” came into my head. You know, the Lerner-and-Loewe musical that was both a stage play and a movie back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the one with the song Almost Like Being in Love in it. Brigadoon is a magical village that only emerges from the Scottish mists every hundred years; if you come at the right time, you find it, and if you don’t, you’d never know it existed.
Even as I laughed at myself for seeing things, I also smiled to myself that Queensborough is such a magical little place – at least to me, and perhaps I’m not alone – that one could almost believe in a pretty old house suddenly appearing out of nowhere. And be a tiny bit sorry when that almost-belief turns out to be just an optical illusion. A nice one, though!