Thursday nights. My sister and I take a weekly nighttime walk round our neighborhoods during the Fall, we do this specially to see the decorations in yards and on porches. These “spooky walks” serve to heighten our anticipation for Halloween, but they also create a wonderful shiver up the spine tingle that propels us one week to the next during September and October, even when décor and haunts are slow to emerge. Our own imaginations are enough at these times, the usual sights and sounds of a suburban street transformed into intriguing murmurs of “malevolent mirth”. Long shadows thrown from streetlamps and porch lights, the far-off sounds of garbled conversations or t.v.’s drifting from second story windows, creaking gates from indiscernible sources and erratic gusts blown through trimmed trees and banks of fallen leaves, pushed into swirls like slithering snakes across our path. We encounter random “haunting” objects; a pumpkin on a porch awaiting its fiery grin, a lone shrouded figure hanging off a scraggy tree, or the odd string of orange lights wound haphazardly on rooftops or fence lines. Dogs bark and growl at imagined slights, cats slink along drives, undaunted and furtive. We step quickly by the garages with opened doors and darkened interiors, and laugh nervously at a car door slamming shut in the distance. We remark on the absence of folks out walking, the too quiet traffic on the roads and the general pervading stillness. As though the whole neighborhood was blanketed in the anticipation we feel, and the sense of tethered thrill wasn’t just a flight of fancy but actual and waiting to be realized. Eventually we turn homewards and we whisper inspired plots and plans back and forth, heads twisting to continually observe our surroundings. Our pace increasing along with the knowledge of time running down, elapsing steadily towards that night of madcap and mayhem, these walks the long breath drawn in, till the eventual exhale into Eve.
Posting a bit of spellcraft to get you through this Friday the 13th – beware, bewitch and bedevil!
Scent of skull
Toe of frog
Wool of bat
“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.” H.P. Lovecraft
I was eight years old and out with my grandparents and parents and cousins beyond count, at one of the beaches on the west coast and grunion hunting…everyone running around the beach, dark, waves glowing and I remember sitting on the beach and suddenly waking up, soaking wet, because the tide had come in.
Wow – that went fast. Falloween has passed and we are on to the next. I do hope October doesn’t speed by, I like to take time and savor this time of year. Deeply Autumn, scent and sense and scintillation. Spice and season, crackle and rustle, thrill and shiver. Days spent in anticipation, the gradual reveal of funereal farce and festive folly. Countdown to Halloween begins tonite, midnight, don’t forget to stop by and look over all the great Halloween themed blogs to surface this time of year, as a hand reaching through the ground that grabs for your attention. Always so much to experience from the creators and curators of these specialized blogspots…a wonderful way to spend a little time during the coming weeks. Check the link at right to get yourself started. My own blog will be witch flavored this year, I will be stirring, spicing, swirling up a cauldron of tidbits about my favorite icon of the season.
I was just leaving my place the other day to do some shopping and driving up the highway noticed two jack-o-lanterns decorating some porch steps. They caught my eye for a number of reasons, that I am on the lookout generally this time of year for folks to begin setting out pumpkins on porches as they bring them home from lot, farms, markets, etc. and because these particular ones had already shrunken inwards. I determined that they were in service from the night previous (otherwise I am certain to have noticed them before) and thought it an odd thing considering its quite early to be putting these winter squash under the knife. It left me wondering just why they’d been sacrificed so soon. Early celebration of Autumnal glee? Birthday party? General exuberance? Dry run? I suppose I will never know – just another Halloweenesque mystery that will remain unsolved. I do however appreciate the effort. It is just a simple thing, really, whether in abundance from your favorite pumpkin ranch stand or picked up as an afterthought as you roam a supermarket, the bright orange beckons and betides. A definite herald of the Season. Whether sitting alone atop a mantelpiece or countertop or in mass upon the porch steps. Minuscule or jumbo, tall, fat, round, smooth, pebbled, even white, gray or cinderella, this annual tribute to the Eve is welcome in its forms and prized in its function. Though diminutive in comparison to grand displays of Haunters everywhere, it remains the definitive measure of Halloween involvement, maybe even more than the porch light. The superlative harbinger of mischief, mayhem and madcap.
I know its still three weeks until the “official” start of Fall, but its September 2 and for me Fall begins now. In the absence of the colours, weather and general coziness of the Season (since its still way too hot for those lovely steamy drinks, pumpkin spiced or otherwise) there are the more prosaic heralds of the changing of the “gourd”. The usual cryers of the earlybirds of retail have come, and gone. First was the much anticipated 10th Anniversary of the Yankee Candle Boney Bunch collectible figures, next for me was the now annual trip to Rogers Gardens and their detailed themed displays which are always a surefire blast of welcome and kick-off to the coming weeks of planning and preparation, its nice to see others have been doing so for months and months. I will post more info about them, be sure to drop by and take a look for yourself. Other major retailers are keeping up but some have decidedly fallen back in their support, Pottery Barn and its partner store William Sonoma have been offering what is really the same themed merchandise for a few years now and its disappointing to see, they were the last of the big name stores to still offer thoughtful and beautifully packaged wares. The Crate and Barrel offerings are always simple, but beautiful, and this year is no different. Michaels, T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and Target and Home Goods are all following suit and filling their shelves, albeit slowly, with a huge variety of the usual and the new. So it’s starting to look alot like…Halloween. Can’t say I am disappointed in that. Nice to know I don’t have to explain why I am dragging out my boxes and boxes of skeletons, witches, ghosts and carved jacks so “early” – seems I am right on time.
Posting this as the clock strikes midnight and porch lights darken on another fiendish, funky, frivolity-filled festival of fright! Hope you all got what you wanted in those plastic orange pumpkins, sorting through wrappers on a self-induced sugar high, a good replacement for the adrenalin now on the wane. Halloween 2017 falls on a Tuesday which will prompt its own challenges and I for one am grateful for the long weekend this year which meant a lovely long stretch of the legs towards the slow amble of this evening. I really appreciated being able to indulge in the extra time to surprise and savor. That being said, this month flew by faster than witches on firebolts, and as an extension of the magical theme of the Season, am really looking forward to seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them which opens Nov. 18th, 2016 – yet another foray into the wizarding world of you-know-who. Let me thank you all again, those of you who stopped by for a bit of “light reading” and I hope you found something you liked. Kudos to Countdown to Halloween for another raucous romp through Halloween blogs, nods to all those who partook for their dedication. I am posting a painting by an etsy artist named Chelsea Bester, this witchful depiction of the nights festivities leaves me wistful and wishing for just a little more time, alas I must reset the clock. Malevolent mirth indeed, till the moon rises next Eve, farewell!
For one Night only amid the Pall
Of fleeting days that come with Fall
Into that time of lengthy nights
Come Harvest Moon and candy Rites
For this night only Perils walk
And Nightmares wake as mortals gawk
Upon odd Folk on festooned streets
Marauders bent on taking Treats
For one night only alive They seem
To Whimsic frolic as if a dream
To Caper and Croon til Cock will Crow
With fierce abandon They bestow
For one night only We join the Fest
And add our glee to glamour’s Best
To mix Within and earn Their pass
To hide ourselves amid the Mass
For this night only too soon will end
Sun will rise and Barrier mend
They’ll draw away as if a wand
Had swept them off to Their Beyond
For this night only You too will pine
To be among those few Sublime
Who in Their turn will watch and wait
For warmer Seasons to abate
For this night only They will Return
As surely as the candles Burn
And once more will They dance on scene
With all who welcome Halloween!
by A.E., October 2009