Sunday evenings were known as bowling league night which my parents participated in frequently, and it was on these evenings that my siblings and I would stay at our grandparents’ house for the evening.

One particular Sunday, we arrived early at their country farmhouse to find our grandmother hanging laundry on the clothes line and my grandfather chipping ice in the driveway. Climbing out of my parents’ car, we bid them farewell and made our way into the house. My grandfather, determined to finish his work, only waved as he continued to chip away at the ice. Inside, we were greeted by my grandmother.

“I hope you guys are hungry. I made lasagna for dinner,” my grandmother said as she shut the window to the porch and followed us into her kitchen. “Let’s wash our hands and set the table so we can eat,” she proclaimed. Not soon after, our grandfather came into the house and made his way to his corner chair where he began to remove his boots and overalls.

When the table was set, my grandmother pulled a large baking tray from the oven. The smell of melted cheese and sauce filled the room.

My grandfather heaped our plates with lasagna and said, “I saw the old Pearson House burned to the ground the other night. Luckily the whole family escaped.” My grandmother paused as she held a piece of buttered bread in her hand. “Boy, does that remind me of a story from a very long time ago,” she said as she took a bite of her bread and then proceeded to tell a tale.

In a small cabin near a ravine at the farthest border of Donbridge lived a little boy named Nicholas and his mother Ana. The two lived there for a very long time and rarely came to town. When they did, most people recognized them because they always wore beautiful pelts and had owl feathers hanging from their hair. Townsfolk did not interact with them much, but soon that would change.

It was the second night of the three-day traveling circus and as always, the juggler was to perform. That evening a larger than normal crowd entered the circus tent as the town of Sleepy Hollow traveled over to see the circus. Each person who entered the tent was greeted by two perched owls. Most people thought it was part of the act and laughed while others just ignored them.

After an hour of performances, the fire juggler was in the middle of his finale when one of his torched bowler pins got away from him and caught on fire the hay that lined the floor. People screamed and tried to escape but could not find their way through the smoke. At that moment, the two owls flew into the tent as Nicholas and Ana waved people to safety. People ran toward them and then, just as the last person left the tent, the tent collapsed and Nicholas and Ana disappeared.

For weeks, no one could find them, and people wondered if they were alive. Then something happened that interested the sheriff of the town. People had claimed that the cabin light from Nicholas and Ana’s cabin could be seen each night. The town sheriff, encouraged by the news, decided he would see if the two of them were there. Mounting his horse, he rode out to their cabin. When he arrived, he searched the property and all he found was a pair of owls perched upon the porch rail who watched his every move. The sheriff looked at the owls in bewilderment, then smiled and gave them a slight bow and returned home. That evening the sheriff went out on his porch to smoke his pipe and in the twilight across the field he saw a small flickering light from Nicholas and Ana’s cabin, quiet and peaceful in the night.

My grandmother, having finished her tale, got up from the table and started washing the dishes. About an hour passed and my father and mother arrived to take us home. Before heading out the door, I went to my grandmother and hugged her. As I walked out of the porch door toward my parents’ car, I looked up and saw two owls watching me from the perch of the clothes line. “Don’t mind the owls,” my grandmother said. “They’re just standing watch to make sure we are safe.” 

Mom’s Lasagna

10 cooked meatballs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons fresh or dried parsley
1 pound lasagna pasta
2 cups ricotta cheese
3 quarts homemade tomato sauce
1 package cooked Italian sausage links

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and boil lasagna. Take 1 cup of sauce and pour over the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking dish. When the lasagna pasta is cooked, remove each cooked piece from strainer and line the sauce-covered pan. Next, pour sauce over the layer of lasagna. Chop sausage and meatballs over the layer and place teaspoons of ricotta cheese over the layer. Next, sprinkle Romano cheese, parsley and basil over the layer. Pour sauce again over the layer. Repeat the process until the pasta is completely used up. When finished layering, shred the mozzarella cheese over the entire dish. Cover the entire dish with foil and place in the oven until cheese is lightly browned. Remove and then serve.

R.D. Vincent
Author: R.D. VincentEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
R.D. Vincent is an American author born in the historic village of Goshen, NY. He was raised on a small dairy farm. He had the rare opportunity to meet New York author and poet Maurice Kenny. Later, inspired by Kenny, he began writing for The Racquette, SUNY Potsdam College’s newspaper with a small cooking column called “Something to Cook About.” The columns were published once every two weeks and contained a short story and recipes. It was during this time that the idea for Donbridge came about. Vincent has since become a best-selling author, writing for five newspapers across the country. He has published eight books and has a ninth book on the way.

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