I love Hallowe’en parties. They are my favorite parties to give, to attend, to plan and to savor. I’ve traveled hundreds of miles for a Hallowe’en party and I would not hesitate to do so again. As I’ve got older I think they become more precious to me, being the lone remainder of the nostalgic seasonal occurrences of youth. I can no longer trick or treat, and I’ve no more schoolroom parties awaiting me. Haunts are months of planning and weeks of production and since we are the dreamers and designers and do-it-yourselfers of our haunts, it holds little surprise for us. The Hallowe’en party remains to offer that feeling of anticipated wonder. We get to don a costume and be thrilled and chilled and immersed in the experience. An evening, a few precious hours to indulge in the spectral spectacle. What is it that makes it all so special? It shares all the common elements of every other type of party; music, food, decorations…and yet. There is that something other…a sense of whimsy, of mystery, of funhouse fear that is singular and potent.
The most fantastic advice on how to give a Hallowe’en party must have come from the Dennison’s Bogie Books, please click pic to link to an archived site to read further on how to give just such a bash, with perhaps a dash of Monster Mash.
I think that one of the undeniable characteristics of Halloween is the mystery it embodies. Wherever you find yourself on the Eve, whichever side of the Haunt you’re on, however much time you’ve spent planning, or whatever last-minute costume you’ve cobbled together, it boils down to a night of amiable adventure, constructed chaos, fiendish foolery and the mayhem of mystery. I think that if you are a lover of Halloween, it follows that you are a lover of the mysterious, that you embrace the unknown. We are all of us dealing with unknowns daily – with chasers of anxiety, even fear and that niggling sense of foreboding. Like that Hallows Eve, there are lights in the darkness showing us, if not the way out, at least a pathway through, in small kindnesses, in simple resolutions, and in shared experiences. I am not alone in the darkness, I am looking out my windows at a world now masked, I will wave at passersby and keep my porch light on, that ever hopeful beacon in the dark.
…at last! It’s time to drag out, dust off, plan and prep and post. The weather may belie the Season, but for those of you tuning in you’ve been at the bit awhile now (as myself) just waiting for the calendar to flip over and for August to close on another heady Summer. Fall is here, even if the barometer says otherwise. In an effort to create some sort of weekly connectivity for this blog I’ve decided to go with weekly readings of some writing I’ve been working on. If all goes as planned, they will take us all the way through October, hope you can tag along. I’ll be signing up again with Countdown to Halloween, look for the badge and link coming soon, its a great way to visit other blogs through the season, as well as the usual miscellany to be found here, now I gotta go de-bubble wrap something…
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.
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 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.
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.