October 10, 2014

They Might be Pirates

Swansbrough Manor

Every Halloween night at the house next door, I do more than read and write about pirates--I watch them sail again. My neighbors strut about in what I suspect is their real wardrobe of corsets and knee breeches, firing their cannons and locking captives in the brig. It is a whirlwind of celebration and spooky shivers.

My first year in Georgia I noticed interesting habits about the folks living a stone’s throw from my new house. In late spring, they brought out queer duds: long skirts, overcoats, hats with feathers, and swords. My neighbor explained it was time for the Renaissance Festival. Ah, I said. From my back porch, I listened to strange sounds echo from their basement all summer long.

That fall I watched amazed, as week by week a life-sized ship grew up in the driveway next door. Attached to the house, it had a long deck with masts, and yes, sails. A few peeks through the trees, and I realized the ship was filled with skeletons and treasure chests. Good Lord, I thought. They might be pirates…

Swansbrough Cemetery

As October blew in so did a cemetery, not to mention, a pumpkin patch and a mausoleum. The pirate ship shined nightly with a soft yellow glow--just enough to see the cannons. I often wondered what kind of neighborhood I had moved into.

Playing the pirate "lady"
I fell in love with pirates as a child. Perhaps it was a blend of Peter Pan and Robin Hood, but I always had a soft spot for those ne’er-do-wells. Sea fiction, like Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander inspired me to create a story about a pirate turned hero in The Privateer.

Today, it's been two years since I mysteriously discovered the perfect home to settle down in. Now I find myself wondering if the house did not choose me; or at least perhaps my neighbors (in some mystical voodoo way). They are enthusiastic and supportive of my piratical interests, and I am in awe of their swashbuckling lifestyle.

The head pirate wench welcomes visitors.
 A sea-loving historical writer could not ask for better companions living next door. They mind their own buccaneering business, and only fire their cannons one night a year (at the hundreds of visitors who come to tour their shipyard).

Who needs a fence to look over? A pirate ship works just fine for me.

Happy Halloween Holidays!

~Danielle Thorne 

 Visit the pirate haunt at www.swansbroughmanor.com!

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