From a 40′s image of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – a great reminder that there is always room for Halloween in your celebration, and the best use of pumpkin!
I am watching my clock countdown the minutes until this 31st dwindles down to moments and memories. There were a few memorable quirks to the day and the evening, I hope you can all say the same. As the tomb shuts on this Hallow’s Eve, I draw a final breath of cinnamon stick candle wafting up from the scorched insides of gutted gourds, I gather the crinkled remains of candy skins in their bright coverings shriveled and torn, destined for the recycle bin, and take a long last look up and down the street as porch lights dim, jackos darken and light shows blink and die. I sigh, shrug my shoulders, turn and close the door behind me. The house goes dark and here I am at the keyboard…already thinking about Halloween 2018 – I wonder what that escapade will reveal? So much to plan and plot and ply, as the season passes by…so quickly, much too quickly this year. Thanks to all of you who stopped to look around this blog, more thanks to Countdown to Halloween for highlighting another great batch of blogs this year, always so much fun to see what others are up to. I will poke through the leftover candy and ponder…mmmmm….Junior Mints! Rest In Peace Halloween 2017. I will remember you fondly.
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.
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.
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
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
Going to age myself a bit here, but couldn’t help it. While sorting through my TNY collection this Charles E. Martin cover made me smile wistfully as I remembered something from my childhood; something I couldn’t wait for when school days began in September as Halloween usually prompted the first one of the year. The classroom party. The chalkboard covered with the list of necessaries for a decent shindig and Mrs. Gresham or Mr. Argast signing up kids next to each one, invariably the “paper plates and napkins” and “cups” would go to that same kid in the front row whose arm would shoot up the moment the teacher asked. I don’t know, maybe he was baking challenged. The rest of us divvied up the cookies, brownies, other varied treats of no name, bottles of pop, etc for the Friday party. I remember classroom games, like heads up seven up and chalkboard hangman. I remember a parade of students walking around the quad proudly displaying homemade costuming. Teachers dressed as their alter egos (or true natures) best suggested. Trick or treating room to room with each classroom decked out along its own theme. The truncated lessons to make time to just enjoy the holiday undiminished by political correctness. Madcap and mayhem would eventually ensue in the sugar tide, everyone going home clutching a paper plate with various goodies to enjoy over the weekend shared with family, if they survived the bus ride or walk home that is.
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.