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Recorded October 2022
October 30, 2022:
Another story to get us ready for Halloween, this one was written by Marie Kompelien, a longtime employee of the Museum. It was included in the Centennial Book. It’s called Fox Fire.
On the home farm, a huge box elder tree grew close to the east wall of the house. As it grew larger, it began pulling up the foundation below the window. It was decided that it should be cut down to minimize any damage to the house. My brother cut the tree down leaving behind about a four-foot-high stump.
Through the years, the stump was used for many purposes. The younger kids in the family played on that stump using it as home base during a game of hide-n-seek or jumping off the stump to prove their courage. My mother would put bread crumbs on it for the birds during the winter and also draped her wet mop or a rug on it to dry.
After a few years, the stump had decayed to a point that it needed to be disposed of completely. My brother chopped it off but did not get the wood debris cleaned up the same day. That day my younger brother and nephew played with the greenish wood scattering it all over the back porch and the backyard.
Later that night, we were already in bed and our lights out talking with one another in the dark, when an object that looked like a glowing skeleton of a cow’s head slowly floated into our room. My older sister saw it first and she jumped out of bed screaming, and by then, I think we were all screaming. She hit at it with her hand and the glowing object fell to the floor and pieces flew all over, and eerie glowing greenish lights lay scattered at our mother’s feet. The glowing object had been carried into our room by our mother.
After calming us down, our mother told us to come downstairs and look at the back porch and yard. What we saw was a once-in-a-lifetime sight. The porch floor was all aglow as well as the yard. Small and large pieces of the rotted stump were now glowing pieces of wood lighting up the night. It continued glowing all night and we stayed up a long time looking at it in wonder. My mother told us she had heard about rotted wood that would sometimes glow if conditions were right.
The next day we left the debris in the backyard and even placed a few pieces in our cellar to see if it would continue to glow. However, the sun-dried the damp greenish wood, and that was the end of our glowing stump. Even the pieces in our cellar lost their glow.
I have heard of tales that if one is lost in a forest and dark comes, they can kick an old stump apart and if it glows, they can use it as a beacon to light their way. We had a lot of old rotten or decayed stumps in the woods near our home that were often kicked apart after dark to see if they would glow. But alas, I have never seen another glowing stump.
Thanks, Marie, for writing down your interesting story for us to share today.
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