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 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.
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
Just a quick note today, Labor Day activities are tugging away, its 55 days to Halloween and if you haven’t yet, it’s probably a good time to start looking through the garage, sheds, closets, under the bed, all those places we store our goodies for the big night. Also, for the long season – can’t wait to get everything up and going, lights, action, and smoke and mirrors! My best to you all and Happy Haunting!!
Rogers Gardens has announced their annual Halloween Boutique Opening “Grimm Tales” will debut on Friday, September 2nd @ 9:00am! Visiting this amazing boutique yearly has become a favorite for me and I hope you find time to stop by, it will not disappoint.
“The forest is dark and enchanted…branches creak and leaves rustle as trees close in, obscuring the path home. Wander deep into the shadows and you’ll find frightful folklores, fantastical stories and chilling tales. These bedtime stories will give you nightmares, and you’ll discover that not all fairy tales end happily-ever-after.” –Rogers Gardens
A lovely New Yorker cover from my collection. Edna Eicke has captured a wonderful moment. Everything the night should be, the “ghosts” peering through the gate to judge if the walk is worth the risk. I think the lighted windows highlighting the porch seal the deal. I love the importance of the porch, the threshold, the approach to the door. So much anticipation, exhilaration, consternation. You get it. Sometimes with haunters its meant to be a very long walk, even when its a hop, skip and jump to the door from the sidewalk. Like running the bases through a gauntlet, real or imagined. With only the thought of reaching the porch, the door, safety always to be found at home, even if for just a moment, someone else’s. A lovely tradition I think. Thanksgiving has the turkey shared with family and friends, Christmas gets the tree with thoughtful gifts to be given out amongst nearest and dearest. On Halloween we invite neighbors and strangers alike to our doors. We wait upon the knock, the doorbell, we pause and savor the shrieks and hesitant approach of children and adults through the keyhole or from between the blinds. The magical ‘say “trick or treat!” and enter’ that signals a kindred spirit whereupon we open our doors and distribute rewards for stopping by. Simply marvelous.
I have attended the first day opening of the Rogers Gardens Halloween Event for the past few years and I will be there early to enjoy it this year as it looks to be especially creepy. The four rooms they usually design/decorate traverse beautiful to bizarre, worth the stop if you are near Corona del Mar, Ca. See you there? Click pic to link to site.
The weather here on the west coast is definitely Fall-like at last, chill temperatures and brisk gusts of wind remind me of why I prefer this time of year. Time to break out the scarves and mittens, flannels and fuzzy slippers. Just to make cozying up that much more enjoyable. The approaching Thanksgiving holiday makes me pause and reflect, as I still see pumpkins decorating porches and sills and tabletops. We always save one or two from October to enjoy through November – a bright orange reminder – it’s interesting how the pumpkin, the idea of it, transitions from the herald of giving treats to the herald of giving thanks. Many of us will close the holiday with that slice of spicy sweetness. It’s a fitting way to bookend Autumn. Enjoy this New Yorker cover from 1973, a house simply celebrating the season.
New Yorker Magazine, Stevenson, 1973
As the nights grow longer, deeper and darker, this may help while away those hours between sunset and sunrise.
This is a quick bit of video footage taken by my husband (Redwire), he is very proud of the automated cauldron prop, it was the first mechanical prop I’d asked for and I think he did an amazing job putting it together. This is the walk up to my front door and the entrance to our “Shoppe”. The music overlay is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode “Hush” a great piece of music called “Golf Claps” by Christophe Beck.
Just click here…Strolling to the Shoppe door