A couple of years ago I submitted an account to YGS with the somewhat sensationalistic title, "Demonic Voices In The Night". In the fascinating comments that followed, Tweed steered me in the direction of the Tomten, creatures described in Scandinavian folklore. Valkricry then provided samples of ancient Norse being spoken that seemed very close indeed to I had heard. For all the thought provoking back and forth about the two voices I heard in a customer's house, and believe to have been Tomten, please check out the comments under that earlier account. I have a great little book titled "A Field Guide to the Little People", and it states that the Tomten originally lived in trees but have now moved indoors. It also states that they have been spotted in some communities in North America. This is pertinent to the following account. My question to the YGS community, which you can decide upon after reading the following is this: Did the Tomten follow me to an isolated island off the coast of Maine or did I somehow stumble across a second pair of Tomten?
Here's the skinny--My wife Julie and I went on a vacation at the beginning of May this year to Monhegan Island, which lies off the coast of Maine. We first flew from Chicago to Boston then transferred to a nine seat, twin engine Cessna and flew to Rockland, Maine. Then it was an hour plus ferry ride on the Elizabeth Ann from Port Clyde over what turned out to be wildly rocky seas to the equally rocky Monhegan Island. We rented a house for the week. To briefly digress, I urge anyone reading this to check out images of the island online. It's a mind-blowingly beautiful, rugged island with headlands, cliffs, spectacular crashing waves, black forests, seals chillin' on rocky ledges and that rarest and (for me) most cherished of things--solitude. Artists still flock to this secluded outpost and the likes of Rockwell Kent, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper and three generations of Wyeth's (Jamie still has a house there) have sought to capture the majesty that is Monhegan.
I love islands. Their circumscribed nature and the people that choose to live on them attract me. To quote James Coburn's character from one of my favorite movies, "The Last of Shiela", "Tiny islands fascinate my ass." Monhegan is one of those small, special places where locals write books chronicling the histories of every house. On one of the well stocked bookshelves in our house was a book titled, "Monhegan: Her Houses and People 1780-1970". The house that Julie and I had rented was built by Archibald Brown in 1925. It has passed through may hands since and in 1983 it was purchased by the family who still own it. They call it Fair Hill House. The land it sits on was, prior to 1925, farmland and is mentioned for the first time in 1807 as part of Josiah Starling's property. The front of the house borders "Main Street". Like all the roads on the island (there aren't many) it's an unpaved gravel track. Winding its way up a steep incline behind the house is another road that leads up to the lighthouse that overlooks the tiny town, along with small Manana and Smutty Nose Islands, which create a snug harbor. It's this road that my encounter centers on.
Every day Julie and I would hike for several hours through the spruce forests and along the cliffs. Some of the forests have such thick canopies that very little sunlight filters through and they can seem like something out of a fairy tale, or a Hammer horror film. The latter comes to mind because thick mist often rises from the earth after a rain and adds a truly haunting element to these (as the islanders call them) "wild lands". Outside the micro harbor town the vast majority of the island is undeveloped. Although privately owned, the "wild lands" are cared for and protected by Monhegan Associates, which was founded in 1954 by Ted Edison--Thomas Edison's son. This group cares for the upkeep of the twelve miles of trails and protects the flora and fauna that make the island so magical. The paths, particularly along the cliffs, are quite difficult but rewarding for the unfolding vistas that emerge around each new turn.
After our daily hikes I would build a roaring fire in the brick fireplace that sits in the center of the front room. I hadn't brought in enough firewood one night, so I headed out to the side of the shed behind the house where the split logs were stored under a tarp. I had with me a small flashlight my wife keeps on her key-chain. As I was picking out some choice logs I became aware of a sound. It struck me initially as something like music. This sound seemed to be coming down the steep gravel road that was within a few feet of the shed. The stars were blocked by clouds and it was a profoundly black night. Continuing to sort through the logs what I initially thought was some distant music seemed to coalesce into two voices talking. For some reason, far from being alarmed, I was annoyed that on an island with an off season population of around fifty people, that two of them were approaching the rear of the shed where I happened to be. It struck me that the voices sounded REALLY odd. They sounded very old, hoarse and cracked and I remember thinking that their jagged, croaking nature was something my brain as a boy would have equated with trolls. I really need to emphasize that I felt absolutely no fear and was only mildly annoyed.
Suddenly, like a wind encompassing me, the voices drew nearer and their hoarse, gravelly nature, turned into a jagged overlapping conversation. They clearly seemed to be coming down the steep, twisting gravel road from the direction of (thanks to info gleaned from that earlier mentioned book) artist Andrew Winter's house and studio. The house is presently unoccupied and is owned by Monhegan Associates awaiting renovation. Winter built the house in 1940. He lived there until his death in 1959 and his wife continued to use it as a summer cottage until the early 1970s. The book lists May 11, 1959 as the date the deed switched from Andrew to his wife Mary. I'm not sure if that's the date that Andrew Winter died but it seems likely. This date is significant because I heard the voices on the evening of May 10, 2017. Although I had a small flashlight I didn't shine it in the direction of the voices. You see, at the time I thought it was two people walking and talking. However these voices sounded utterly bizarre and weren't speaking a language I understood. My lack of concern when this encounter occurred might have had something to do with a telepathic element at work. This telepathic element might very well divert the consciousness of the person experiencing the event. In other words, my consciousness was focused on the voices while the reactions I might have had under "normal" circumstances were temporarily shut off. Like the two voices I heard several years ago in a house, these voices were jagged and hoarse with a slightly high pitch and they spoke simultaneously.
I grabbed up several logs and headed back into the house. As I walked towards the house Julie briefly stuck her head out the back door to see how I was getting along. Dropping the logs in the wood bin in the kitchen, I quickly went out to get the rest of the logs I had put aside. The voices were gone. Julie hadn't heard them. Only after the fact did I consider some very important details. It struck me that there had been absolutely no sound of feet walking on the gravel. Julie and I had heard many people during the course of our stay, mostly hikers and "birders", going up and down that road. The sound of their feet crunching on the gravel was always as clear as their voices (if they were talking). The voices I heard were coming down a particularly steep part of the winding road that makes a person have to lean back slightly to change their center of gravity and to take short, shuffling steps. These shorter, shuffling steps cause a person to scrape and kick up the gravel. Every person we heard going up or down that road, including ourselves, had a very noticeable footfall. Whatever was coming down that road made no sound other than speaking and carried no light.
Over the course of the week, Julie and I had seen a few people ascending and descending the road with flashlights after dark. That these overlapping voices were carrying on a discussion that seemed to be the sole focus of their attention and carried no light makes it seem almost certain that their footfall should have been quite pronounced. So focused were these voices on their weird discussion it seems likely they wouldn't be paying as much attention to their steps and a shuffling, scraping sound should have been prominent. The voices approached me swiftly too, not like people carefully and quietly picking their way along the road to avoid tripping or falling. Something else that struck me after the fact is just how similar these voices were to the two overlapping voices I heard years earlier in Illinois. I do believe those voices were Tomten. So the questions I pose to YGS are these--were these voices Tomten too? Were they associated with the Winter house and studio just up the road? Was Andrew Winter walking and talking with another deceased friend? If they were Tomten and had previously been connected to Andrew and Mary Winter, had they decided to stay on after their deaths? Or were they in some way connected to the house we were staying in? Were they some other type of nature spirit? After all, the house Julie and I rented was situated right next to the "wild lands" of the island. Maybe, just maybe, they were two Tomten taking a vacation just like Julie and I were.