On Mettlers Road, in the nearby town of Franklin, a lovely park exists that has been the scene of many a pastoral summer evening for this Rutgers Rarities Investigator. I am referring to Colonial Park, home of the rather high-brow Spooky Brook Golf Course and the lower-brow, but just plain awesome Rudolph W. Van der Goot Rose Garden, along with a nifty Arboretum. This park also holds the record for being the home of some of the largest groundhogs ever seen- while fishing one night I saw two that I first took for small bears. To digress, I felt it was my solemn duty to bring Co-investigator Ray to this site on a recent bitterly cold winter evening for the foremost purpose of ridiculing him for his complete ignorance of the immediate off-campus geography, and latterly, to show him some weird little buildings that always felt strange to me, even on a sweaty August day with a grilled hot dog in hand.
Colonial park is one of the most beautiful parks near Rutgers University.
These weird little buildings are located alongside the Van der Goot Garden and they actually are the remnants of the Mettler family estate which encompassed all of Colonial Park and just about all of Franklin in the late 1800’s. The garden and the aboretum are also fairly old, dating back to the early 1900’s when selective plant breeding a la Gregor Mendel was all the rage. The RR Team certainly felt that a very strange breed of tree remains at the park and our experience as follows demonstrates why one must always be wary of aboretums, no matter how seemingly placid.
As we toured the park and ultimately stopped by the Rose Garden, Co-Investigator Ray noted the extreme height of the trees bordering the area and he also noted that Franklin Township always seems to be the hotspot for weird plants. As we walked towards some of the biggest weeping pines and douglas firs alongside the garden, Ray and I were startled by the weirdest noises coming from the trees, which we initially took to be the squeaking of bats. Having dealt with bats on past investigations, Ray and I soon felt that they were an unlikely source as they hardly are chatty creatures, at least not on the human decibel level, and these noises were an almost constant flood of squeaks and murmurs that sounded like a full-fledged maniacal whispered conversation. You could almost make out words. Seriously. It was a nearly windless, though absolutely freezing night and we could not think of any logical explanation for the increasingly loud squeaks and whisper-like noises coming from the trees as we walked around. OK, this sounds crazy, but I swear, the trees seemed to be attempting communication with us as they would make these noises at us when we approached and seemed to “settle down” as we walked away. Crazy talk, I know. However, when we left our chatty trees and circled the other side of the Garden to approach the buildings, some of the similar breeds of trees, tall, piney looking things with huge branches (I’m almost positive they were weeping pines), began to make the same noises at us.
Settle down now trees!
At this point in the investigation Ray and I decided to press onward and get some shots of the two house-like buildings that I was always so interested in. As Ray started to snap away with his trusty digital camera, he gave a yelp and showed me some weird stuff. It seems that the two buildings, for some unexplainable reason, would only photograph as if they were covered in glowing green ectoplasm. There were also these huge bursts of light in the pics that made absolutely no sense as Ray and I had been taking pics all night in the snow and we never encountered any reflections like this. There were no strong sources of light near either of the buildings. In one of the pics the building seemed to be in motion and glowed like one of the Green Goblin’s finest. Baffled by these technical problems Ray and I kept trying different shots at different settings with little luck. We did manage to get one or two that weren’t so bad but none of the pics taken actually resemble the buildings as they really were to the naked eye. At this point in the investigation Ray and I were also startled by some very loud and low-flying aircrafts that just seemed to suddenly flood the horizon. Ok now, the weird pics, coupled with the crazy trees and the sudden appearance of a couple of fleets of low-flying jets really made us pause and decide that (a) we didn’t really want to die like this (I personally always imagined that the aliens would just quietly beam us aloft one night) and (b) it was just too damn cold out. Ray and I then heartily concurred that this investigation was at end and that we were in desperate need of some hot chocolate, or at least that’s what the Fir tree to my left was saying to me. Good night, denizens of Colonial Park, good night!