When I was a child the goose woman of Overdale was just a tale we were told to keep us away from the graveyard. We squealed in terror at the story of the one eyed woman with a red scarf wrapped around her head. She wandered into the churchyard chasing her geese one winter night and
fell into an empty grave and froze to death so they said. The adults terrified us with the yarn about her terrifying ghost and her screaming spectral geese who would chase you out of the boneyard. If they caught you they would drag you down into the nearest freshly dug grave and that would be the end of you.
As I grew older I forgot about the old goose woman. We moved away and it wasn't until I was at college that I remembered the tale. We had to find an old legend and create a piece of art from it. I majored in sculpture so I thought a few snaps of the graveyard in my childhood home would give me some inspiration.
I set off one winter evening with my camera and waited for the light to be just right. Many of the graves are very old. The stones lean at crazy angles. With the setting sun behind them the shadows were interesting. I snapped happily away for about twenty minutes.
A cough behind me made me jump. An old man was standing there. He smiled and asked if I needed any tourist information or directions? He informed me that he was the parish grave digger.
I laughed and told him how I had grown up in the village. I said I knew all about the goose woman. I continued by saying I wasn't afraid of being dragged down into a cold damp grave by a gaggle of ghostly geese and an old woman who only had one eye.
He grinned and nodded. 'Right you are young sir' he said 'But you might want to consider this before you stay any longer.' 'It's not the cold damp graves you have to worry about' he said 'it's the warm ones that are the problem' and he disappeared!