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Sunday - Dec. 4 at 5:00 pm
The inspiration for the novella, Moss on Stone came gradually, triggered by a small sign. While my husband and I were taking a walk in the lovely town of Rockport, Massachusetts on a warm day in May, admiring the trees and spring flowers in bloom, we passed the Inn on Cove Hill. On the gate was the sign: "Built in 1771 by Caleb Norwood with pirate gold found at Gully Point. Hmm...interesting, but was it true? I wondered.
A few weeks later, I went to the Rockport town library, and the Sandy Bay Historical Society (SBHS) to do a little research. I found the Ebenezer Pool papers--a chronicle written by hand (1822-1870). He wrote that there was a discovery of gold by Caleb Norwood and that, "the money find was not made public, but was of many thousands value."
Hmmm...even more interesting! Gwen Stephenson, kind and patient curator at SBHS, directed me to Fish, Timber Granite & Gold by Eleanor Parsons. In it there is reference to later research which found documents to support a discovery of gold by Caleb Norwood. Parsons also mentions Caleb's great granddaughter, Susannah, who had kept a diary (March 1849 - August 1849) when she lived in that very house we had passed on that spring morning!
Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum had a copy of Susannah's diary. I then found it had also been published by Lucy B. Painter, a Norwood family descendant. When I read her entries, I became enthralled by her thoughtful and eloquent expression. The diary revealed a young woman with fine sensibilities, reflective mind, a sense of humor and many interests. Most notably, she was a keen observer of nature who seemed to live for solitude--in her "garret," or at the seaside, fields and woods of Cape Ann, where she gathered mosses to arrange into beautiful designs on paper.
I wanted to (had to) bring Susannah to life again with her diary entries as a springboard to expand into a "story" consistent with her recorded thoughts, feelings, and the events found in the diary. Ironically, the novella's perspective has Susannah telling her story from an afterlife, "waiting to return to life anew."
Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart longs for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.(W.B. Yeats, The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore)
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