(Host) Commentator Edith Hunter tells how she learned about feng shui in the process of renovating a historic lot.
(Hunter) Grandson Sammy is nine now. He and I were playing chess the other afternoon. He taught me how to play several years ago. It is one game that I never played with my own children. I expect to win some day soon.
In the middle of our game the phone rang and I excused myself to answer it. The person on the other end was consulting me in my role as “town historian.” The caller explained that a friend of hers is going to build a house in Weathersfield, and the friend wanted to know the history of area where the house is to stand. The caller explained that another friend is a practitioner of feng shui and was going to apply it to the building lot.
I confessed that I had never heard of Feng Shui and the caller explained that it is “an ancient Chinese practice that advocates the placement of a man-made structure in a way that will not harm the delicate balance of ‘chi,’ the way of wind and water, within the natural environment.” We made an appointment for the caller to come to see me and I would share whatever history I knew of the location.
I went back to the chess game and remarked to Sammy that that was an unusual call. I explained that it was about Weathersfield history, and about something new to me called “feng-” and I’d already forgotten the second word. “Oh, feng shui,” said Sammy.
Flabbergasted I said, “You’ve heard of it?” and promptly lost a rook. “Oh, yes,” he said, “My aunt Nancy is a feng shui practitioner” I went on to the lose the game, again.
When I e-mailed daughter Elizabeth that evening and told her about the incident, she e-mailed back that she knew about it, but she was pretty sure I was spelling it wrong. I am not a great speller.
The next day when son Graham and I were driving to the garage I told him about it. “Oh, yes, feng shui, I know all about that.”
“How come?” I asked.
Graham is an architect, and he explained that when he was planning the addition to a local church, a feng shui practitioner had gone over his plans at someone’s request.
A day later a newspaper article announced a workshop on feng shui in a nearby town. I had indeed been spelling it wrong. And when I mentioned the subject to son Charles, he said of course he knew about it. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “the Pope had just denounced feng shui.” I had missed that also. That same day it showed up in the Pickles comic strip.
When Armstrong and I were about to buy our first house, my father had advised, “Be sure that whatever house you buy is on the south side of a hill.” Not feng shui perhaps, but good advice.
This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.
Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center, Vermont.