Staring out of the window of my mother’s sewing room, I watched the fall leaves as my mom put together our Halloween costumes. As she toiled away, she came to a small pinch when she realized my costume required a bear’s head. With that small conundrum, she knew of no other person to help her than my grandmother, so after supper, we set off to her house to employ her seamstress skills.
We traveled down our country road and soon found ourselves at my grandparent’s driveway. No light had come on when we pulled in. Exiting the car, we saw the lights suddenly come on and my grandfather yelled out, “Who’s out there!” with a laugh. Walking up the sidewalk, I saw a single lit candle in my grandmother’s craft room window. Paying it no immediate mind, we continued into their house. Grandmamma was seated at the kitchen table.
“You’re just in time. My pie just came out of the oven. I hope you like pumpkin pie,” she said as she got up. My mother followed behind me, holding her half-made bear head. “I see you have brought your project. Let’s let the pie cool and head to my craft room,” she said.
Walking up the stairs, I could see the candle burning on the sill of the craft room window. “Grandmamma, what is this candle for?” I asked as we entered the room.
Grandmamma looked at the candle and said, “Well, that goes back to many years ago when I was told a story about a candle maker.”
Many years ago, a woman named Meredith Masterson lived in a small cottage on the edge of Donbridge with her family who owned a sheep farm. One particular spring, a tragedy befell their family. It was said that Meredith was watching her younger sister, Evelyn, while she played. While she watched her sister, Meredith became distracted and in that moment, Meredith heard a scream. Turning quickly, she saw that her sister had vanished. Meredith panicked and ran to the town’s sentry bell where she pulled the cord. The bell rang through the valley and people rushed to the center of town. One by one, each was told of what happened to Meredith’s sister. Donbridgians took to the fields, farms and forest looking for the girl. They searched for months, but she was never found. Many thought she was taken by the witch who lived in the Tamarack Forest and others thought something far worse had happened to her. But no matter the theory, the fact always remained that the girl was no more. Griefstricken, the Mastersons bought a plot in Donbridge Cemetery and, with heavy hearts, filled a small coffin with items from the girl’s past and sealed the lid, burying it for all time.
Months passed and when October arrived, Meredith, still saddened by the loss of her sister, set to work making candles using wool yarn as wicks. When she was done, she set them to dry and then later in the evening she went to the cemetery where she left a lit candle on her sister’s headstone and then returned home to place another lit candle in her sister’s bedroom window. Meredith repeated this each night and would always fall asleep crying and holding a lock of her sister’s hair.
On the last day of that October, a strange thing happened. She awoke to find the candles she placed in her sister’s bedroom and at the cemetery were neatly placed by her bedside next to her sister’s lock of hair. Meredith cried as in her heart she always felt her sister was near and now she knew she was. Soon, other townsfolk heard of what happened to Meredith and asked her to make them candles for their loved ones. Over time, candles were left in the windows of Donbridgian homes each October remembering those who were lost.
When Grandmamma finished her story, my mother and I were surprised to see that while telling the story, my grandmother had managed to make the bear head. Heading back downstairs, we sat down to a slice of pumpkin pie.
After we were finished, my mother and I headed out the door for home. Turning back, I asked my grandmother who her candle was for. She simply said, “That’s a tale for another time.”
Smiling, I walked out and noticed on the porch table a half-burned candle next to a baseball cap. Surprised, I ran off the porch and looked up from the sidewalk at the craft room window. The window was dark. “Grandmamma,” I said, “did you see that the candle is … ?” but it was too late. My grandmother had already gone back inside her house and my mother was waving me on to the car.
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon of sugar
1/3 cup of shortening
With a pastry fork, mix ingredients together until mixture becomes granulated. Slowly add cold water while mixing the ingredients together until the dough for the crust is formed. At this point, set aside.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups of pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of milk
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients and mix well. Grease a 9-inch pie pan.
Roll out dough, lay in the bottom of the pie pan, and flute the edges. Pour the pie filling into the now dough-lined pie pan. Place the pie into the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a butter knife when inserted into the pie comes out clean. Be sure to use oven mitts! When finished, let cool for a couple hours. Refrigerate the pie when not eating it.