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
I am encountering a rise in anticipation as the Eve approaches and I find that anticipation can quickly turn to anxious knots as preparations progress. Still its not without merit as I liken it to the same apprehension I would feel venturing out into the darkness, drawn towards the smoky lights of flickering jack-o-lanterns, the more ambitious smoke and mirrors of yard haunts, even the rather mundane porch light. In my day (yes, I am that old) we left the house in our made up costumes, lucky enough when Mom took a hand, and with just a group of friends with hands grasping well worn pillowcases, brown paper bags or the (dare to dream) printed plastic shopping bag, with its colorful Halloween images, take ourselves off into the unknown. This New Yorker Magazine cover by Abe Birnbaum is a wonderful image of a group of friends heading out along well worn or maybe undiscovered paths on that annual candy rite of passage. Certainly the prospect of free candy had its merits, but I think it was the absence of adult supervision that really appealed to me. We could go anywhere – talk to anyone – take part in mazes and haunted garages and plans and plots for short-cuts to far off neighborhoods we only really saw from the school bus windows. It was a no holds barred aberration of rules, instead of being home before the street lights came on we made our way through the darkness to those elusive flickering lights of yards and doorways, instead of making certain we were dressed appropriately for our destination we chose the rattiest or gaudiest draping we could find to deck ourselves out to fit our idea of “witch” or “ghoul” or “Batman” or “princess” and instead of being told we couldn’t have one more piece of candy, we could gorge as we went along, sure in the knowledge of one more street to plunder before the porches went dark. Sigh. So despite the hype of candy checking and actual horror of “trunk o treating” I extend my heartfelt appreciation to those of you still doing it the old fashioned way on both sides of the door. To you Trick or Treaters and Haunters everywhere making the journey and the destination equally worthwhile.
This one I will preface by saying you may have noticed in my header the lines from a poem that I change occasionally. I post it here in its complete form, I hope you enjoy it. The work was inspired by this stamp image that I once purchased after customizing with a line from my poem. I am getting these again this year for my Halloween invites, you can purchase by the sheet, these are a great product offered by Zazzle.com go online and pick and choose and edit to your hearts desire. Can’t wait to use these again. Enjoy!
“Stroll with me beneath the Moon,
for surely They’ll be coming soon
to share with us the deepening gloom,
that must be Halloween.
Fellow Revelers walk this Night,
as They awake from yearly plight
deprived til now of sweet delight,
that must be Halloween.
Mischievousness the only goal,
for these few hours on parole.
And none but They could be so droll
that must be Halloween.
Sorry am I that They must wait,
upon the Eve to cross the gait.
Alas that is Their yearly Fate,
that must be Halloween.
All too soon the Night will fade,
and All shall pass into the Shade
to wait upon the next parade,
that must be Halloween.
Perhaps you’ll stroll with me once more,
when Gate stands wide and Spirits tour.
No other sight stir’s my hearts core,
that must be Halloween.”
From earth fog will rise
Seen through autumn eyes
Cunning and patient
While folly foils fear
As hot breath draws near
Wind winds the cornstalks
A deep throaty hiss
Blackbirds go silent
A sign alls amiss
Ripe rabble en route
Yet focused on farce
Caught within whirlwind
Too beguiled to parse
Soon passing threshold
Point of no return
Eyes glowing hotter
Revealing the yearn
And shifts unexplained
From malice unchained
Traversing corn maze
Dupes still unaware
As soon all succumb
To Halloweens scare
- by A.E. October, 2016
I haven’t yet thanked everyone out there who is stopping by to visit – the days (and nights) are quickly passing and our Big Night is advancing and I wanted to reach out a bit and express my gratitude to Countdown to Halloween blogspot for hosting their compendium of Halloween blogs again this year. It’s a great concept and much appreciated by me not only to be included but to have access to so many interesting and quirky blogs. Fun to see so many sides to Halloween, the different perspectives and niche interests that expand and expound the experience. If you are of the same mind, just click the Cryptkeeper button at the right to delve into the deep end yourself.
I am highlighting some of my writing this October, so if you stay awhile I hope you enjoy some of what I have and will be posting and this Mirth and Musings highlights another of my New Yorker covers. I love the mischief in her eyes, seemingly to catch a peek at some malevolence to be sure. Perhaps she is waiting to take a hand, or just enjoying the dreadfulness from afar…sure in her ability to provoke and promote misdeeds herself and appreciating others efforts. In either case, that piercing gaze would unsettle my mettle. Wonderful.
Pumpkins on porches devoid of the scorches awaiting their annual plight.
Soon knife will descend for a gut wrenching end but reborn with flame burning bright
Orbs patiently wait this glorified fate as sentries of Falls candy rite.
The obvious choice, gives the Eve a mute voice calling out “stop here for a bite!”
Flashing their glances whilst youngsters take chances braving their mischievous sight.
In groups or by one, they’ll come and they’ll come, to challenge this well-meaning fright.
As porches grow dark they remain the last spark, a reminder of mischiefs big night.
Soon burned flesh will rot and all’ll be forgot diminished by Novembers’ light.
-AE, October 2016
Strange that the Night, whose delight is fright
is nothing without a little light.
They work in concert you see, tricking your sensibility.
Tis light that creeps and weeps in crevices and corners deep.
Halos the wicked. Disturbs your sleep.
First one and then the other, lucid thought and courage smothered.
The dark appears, it sneers and jeers, taunting you with fervid fears.
Till eagerly you flick a switch, to confidently banish pitch.
Contrary light, glows bright its might betrays as it restores your sight.
You see it coming. You try to hide.
And conscious of irony, close your eyes.
-AE, October 2016