NEW MILFORD — Martha Bailey got up Tuesday morning, just like she always does, to have her cigarette and coffee out on the porch of her Sunny Valley Road home.
What she saw was reminiscent of the movies. Think Mel Gibson in "Signs."
"Maybe aliens touched down," her 7-year-old granddaughter, Shannon, said.
"They're heeeeere," her son, Eric, joked to his wife, Pat.
Bailey's small garden, marked with the homey sign "Grandma's Garden," is fenced off with 7-foot-tall chicken wire and wood. She has planted yellow and white corn among the squash and tomato plants.
In the middle of the corn patch, a perfect square of corn stalks lay perfectly flat, uniformly bent in one direction. The healthy, green corn stalks were otherwise undamaged and the corn surrounding the approximately 20-foot by-40-foot square was standing perfectly. Not one tomato or squash was harmed.
Whatever, or whoever, flattened the crop is a mystery.
"It's weird," Bailey said, looking out at the garden.
Bailey is convinced that something must have touched down in the garden. She doesn't think it was vandalism; she explained few children live on the quiet street and she has nice neighbors. Even though rain soaked the area Monday evening into Tuesday, no footprints were found in the garden.
"Everything was secure, the gates were locked, it had to be something that touched down and flattened it," Bailey said. "It made me sick this morning."
Some of the cornstalks that had remained standing were beginning to droop Tuesday, but they weren't falling at all the way the others had.
In addition to the 7-foot fence, firewood is stacked against the back and left sides of the fence.
Bailey, 69, said she has been gardening since she was 9 and has never seen anything like it. Her daughter-in-law contacted Dr. Mel Goldstein, a meteorologist with WTNH Channel 8, who told her there was no wind Monday night.
Even if there had been wind, Bailey pointed out that her 3.4-acre property is surrounded by trees, which she believes would have taken the brunt of any wind gusts.
Eric Bailey said that he had seen the 2002 Mel Gibson movie "Signs," by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie focuses on a man who lives on a Pennsylvania farm with his brother and two children. One day the children discover a crop circle in the middle of their corn field, which the family soon learns is a sign that aliens are coming to take over the earth.
"That was the first movie that ever gave me goosebumps," Eric Bailey said. When he first saw the square design in his mother's garden, he said his mind immediately went to otherworldly beings. The square defies other logical explanation, he said.
He knows a little of the history of crop circles, which gained notoriety when stories began popping up in the 1980s in British media. It was revealed that a group of people using wooden boards and wire were creating intricate circles during the night in some instances.
"Who in their right mind would do that and not take credit for it?" Eric Bailey said.
The family moved to the property in 1999. The home was originally part of the neighboring Sunny Valley Preserve. They remodeled the home, clearing the trees that surrounded the small and dilapidated house and turning it into the picturesque home it is today.
The other day, Pat and Eric Bailey went to the Elephant's Trunk and returned with a green and white sign that reads "Valley Farm, Est. 1864."
"I think that sign was a jinx," Martha Bailey said to her son, who dismissed the thought. "I wonder what happened on the Valley Farm in 1864."
The family planned to get out into the garden to try to pick up the stalks, perhaps propping them up with more soil.
But for now, Eric and Pat Bailey's bedroom window looks out on the mysterious square.
"I don't know the answer," Eric Bailey said.
Contact Kamilla Gary at email@example.com or at (860) 354-2274.