Posted tagged ‘Halloween’

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen. Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2017

The wind and the rain have given way to a sunny day. It is a bit colder than it has been, 57˚ now and low 40’s tonight for trick or treating. I’m all set for my trick or treaters with candy bars for the bigger kids and Halloween pencils for the smaller.

I remember the excitement of Halloween when I was a kid. School lasted two and a half days or at least it felt that way. The hands of the watched clock moved ever so slowly, and the afternoon dragged on and on until the final bell was rung. We raced home. I’d spend the afternoon putting the final touches on my costume.

It took forever to get dark enough. My mother made supper earlier than usual. It was something quick, no big meal. She knew we didn’t want to eat. We wanted out. I remember driving her crazy by asking over and over if it was time. When she said yes, we bolted out the door.

We had a route based on our hauls from previous years. There were no fun size bars of candy in my day for which I am somewhat thankful. I say somewhat as people did buy bags of things like candy corn or those hard little pumpkins, and they’d divide the candy into individual bags of treats, not my favorites. We’d also get popcorn balls in the little bags. We knew the best houses, the ones with the nickel bars. Even now, when I drive down streets in my home town, I still remember which were the best houses on Halloween.

My mother bought us new masks. They were hard plastic and had an elastic in the back with a little metal piece on both ends which connected to the mask through a hole on each side. The elastics broke easily and got shorter and shorter each time we knotted them. The front of the mask usually had only eye holes. Some kids bought costumes which were worn over clothes and tied in the back. We never did.

My brother and I would stay out until most of the houses had turned their outside lights off. We’d check out our bags and munch a bit as we walked home. Once there, my mother would give each of us a bowl, and we’d sit on the living room rug and sort out the candy. We had piles. Our favorites were in one pile, the candy we’d never eat was in another and in the third was the rest of the candy. The good stuff went in the bowl. My mother never stopped us from eating the candy. I remember keeping my bowl handy under my bed. The candy never lasted too long.

I loved Halloween but not just because of the candy. Deciding the costume was fun. It took a long while even with hints from my mother. I’d choose one then a different one then another and another before finally deciding. We decorated the windows with those cardboard skeletons and witches. We carved pumpkins. We whispered about ghosts and witches and black cats to scare ourselves.

Walking home on Halloween night is one of my favorites memories. The sidewalks were covered with yellow leaves. It was quiet enough to hear our footsteps. The houses’ outside lights had gone dark. Only the streetlights lit our way. We whispered our conversation. It seemed right.

Spooks: Louis Armstrong

October 30, 2017

“There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.”

October 29, 2017

It rained earlier and it’s still cloudy and damp, but I don’t mind as we’ve had such lovely days of late. There is a high wind warning for all of tonight into tomorrow. Despite the damp, it will be warmish, in the mid 60’s.

Last night I watched Lady in White, one of my favorites this time of year. Despite no blood, no masked killers and no hatchets and knives, the movie is scary. The characters, including the murderer, are regular people living in a lovely small town. It is this ordinariness which makes what happens even scarier than watching a crazy man in a mask.

Tonight is game night with added Halloween fun. We’re going to decorate sugar cookies first. If that is anything like when we make and decorate our gingerbread houses, we’ll all be concentrating so much on our artistic endeavors we won’t be conversing, just decorating.

When I was a kid, we’d all be on Halloween countdown with only two days to go. Finalizing costumes and deciding our candy route were prime topics of conversation as we walked to school. Our costumes were always homemade, and my mother was imaginative. The only thing she bought was a new mask for each of us. We carried pillowcases as they had plenty of room for all the candy. My two sisters went out early and stayed in the neighborhood. My brother and I wandered all over town.

I loved movies which made me jump from something unexpected. It was sort of fun to be scared but the fun was mostly afterwards once our breathing normalized. When I was about ten, I was watching The House of Wax and got really scared when Vincent Price’s mask fell off his burned, scarred face.

I remember seeing Jaws for the first time. When Hooper scuba dives to look for the shark, he finds Ben Gardner’s boat. He and I both jumped when Ben’s face appeared out of a hole in the boat. I think that’s the scariest scene in the movie.

Afternoon football games on Sunday always remind me of my dad. He sat in his spot on the couch to watch the games. Right beside his spot was a table which was perfect to hold his game snacks or his lunch depending on the time of the game. He loved his snacks and he loved football. My mother and I didn’t watch and were usually at the kitchen table playing a game or two. We didn’t have to be with my father to know how the game was going. He was never a quiet fan.

“What hath night to do with sleep?”

October 1, 2017

Welcome to October: fall, football season, pumpkins on my front steps, cold nights and crisp mornings, leaves turning and falling and a sharp, slanted sunlight. Today is all of those. Last night it was in the high 40’s, and I needed an afghan. This morning my house was only 64˚ so I turned on the heat until it was warm. I’m wearing a sweatshirt. First we had sun then clouds and now sun again. I’m watching the Patriots.

Here on the cape, this is the best month. The tourists are mostly gone except on the weekends, and this is the high season for busloads of guided retirees on weekdays. They stop at Cuffy’s for sweatshirts with Cape Cod across the chest, and at Christmas Tree shops for who knows what.

This is the season for soups loaded with fresh vegetables, especially squash. I love butternut squash bisque, and it is on my fall menu, those recipes I want to make.

The colors of fall are beautiful. I always love the first appearance of mums. The bright yellows, the muted reds, the bronze, the whites and the lavenders sitting out front of farm stores always catch my eye. Sometimes I stop and buy only one or two, but I have been guilty of mum buying sprees so I’m cautious.

It’s time for me to decorate my house with my yin and yang decorations. I have gourds which look real, pumpkins of all sizes, some lit, some unlit, and garlands of colored leaves. My Halloween storage boxes are filled with rats, really ugly life-like rats, ravens, monsters, skeletons and witches. I have purple and orange lights. I’ll start after my nap today and finish tomorrow.

A nap? Yes, I am in dire need of a nap. I didn’t turn off my light until close to three this morning then I was tossing and turning. I heard the cat throw up, and I just ignored her and turned over. The dog woke me at eight. She needed to go outside. I dragged myself off the couch and took her out. It was a good thing I did. When we came back inside, we all, the three of us, went back to sleep, but it wasn’t enough for me. I slept for only an hour, but I’m still tired and grouchy. I’m even hoarse. I did find a hairball Maddie had tossed up and cleaned it. I’m so ready to join Maddie and Gracie in the land of Nod.

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2016

I never understood why the nuns expected us to work and pay attention to lessons on Halloween. We were on a silent countdown to the trick or treat hour when our mothers would let us out so subtraction or English just didn’t matter. The challenge all day was to look interested without caring a whit.

We had chosen our costumes weeks ago. On the walks to and from school, my friends and I discussed the possibilities. The costumes would be homemade, and in those days they weren’t too sophisticated. We thought about being ghosts, but that was just too easy. A hobo was okay. We’d use make-up for a beard and carry a stick with a bucket at the end for our candy. Our mothers could sew patches on the pants and shirts. A scarecrow mostly just needed make-up and straw. With a few curlers and a robe, we could be our mothers or grandmothers. Paint a couple of pieces of cardboard, wear one in front and the other on the back, and you’re an ace or a two. Costumes just took imagination.

My mother would buy us masks, if we needed them, and trick or treat bags. Sometimes, though, we’d use pillow cases as bags hoping for a big haul. Halloween day was almost as long as Christmas Eve. We’d get dressed early and beg my mother to let us out. We’d keep watch hoping to see a trick or treater as proof it was time. Finally, my mother would let us out. We’d do the neighborhood first. It took a while as the neighbors oohed and ahhed and guessed who we were, as if it were difficult. After that, my brother and I would do the town. The 5 cent bar houses were our first stops. We hated the apple houses except the ones which put pennies or a nickle in their apples. I was never fond of candy corn or popcorn balls. We’d wander the town until the outside lights went dark. On the way home we’d go through our bags and eat a favorite candy bar or two. When we got home, my mother would give us each a big bowl for our candy. We’d sit on the floor and trade.

We could stay up late because the next day was a Holy Day, and we didn’t have school. We did have to go to church, but it was worth it to have the whole day.

“But I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.”

October 31, 2015

Every kid’s calendar had only three days circled. The biggest and the best day of all was Christmas. Weeks of anticipation, making and changing lists for Santa and decorating the house and tree helped to make the time pass, but it passed ever so slowly, especially Christmas Eve. The second best day was Halloween. What will I be this year was the most important question and a topic of great discussion walking to and from school. The third circled day was our birthdays. They didn’t need any preparation and were anticipated but not with the same level of excitement as the other two days. My birthday came with a present, a few cards, always one with two dollars from my grandmother, and a cake. Blow out the candles, eat cake, open presents, and it’s over for another year. Christmas and Halloween seemed to last days. They had a before and an after.

Going to school on Halloween always seemed wrong somehow. We fidgeted and clock watched the whole day. I doubt we learned anything as our minds and imaginations were filled with costumes and candy. Arithmetic had no chance.

I remember the afternoon lasted nearly forever, not as long as Christmas Eve but a close second. We’d eat dinner then pester my mother to let us leave. She always said it was too early. We kept watch at the window hoping to see a treat or treater so we could prove my mother wrong. Finally we’d get to leave.

First we did the neighborhood then the side streets near the house. I have memories of leaves blowing, street lights shining on the sidewalks, walking all over town and eating as we walked. When house lights finally started going out and few trick or treaters were still around, we’d head home stopping now and then at a lit house.

Once home, we’d empty our bags into big bowls and do a bit of trading. We’d throw away the popcorn balls. My mother took the apples. They’d get eaten at another time. We’d eat a few more bars of candy then the bowls had to be put away. Though the evening was officially over, the candy lasted for days.

After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers.

October 27, 2015

I see spider webs. That may not sound like much, but it means I am just about healthy again. It means the weird cleaning obsession is back so I have to stop and clean away the webs and dust whenever I see them. Already the dishwasher is filling with dusty votive glasses and chimneys. I’m even going to empty the dryer.

Today is much like yesterday, sunny and in the 50’s. We’ll have warmer weather later in the week, back to the 60’s for a couple of days. I love this time of year.

My mother always created our Halloween costumes. We never bought them ready-made. Sometimes, though, we’d buy a mask to go with whatever we were, but I never really liked full-faced masks. They were hot, and most times my eyes didn’t line up with the holes so I could only see half the world. I liked the masks favored by the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet, the ones where only your eyes were covered.

We used pillow slips to carry our bounty so we didn’t have to worry about paper bag handles breaking. Those were the days of red apples, popcorn balls and little tied bags with a few pieces of candy. I remember one red apple had a nickel stuck in it. That was a treasure. I never thought about the time that went into making popcorn balls. I was a kid. All I thought about was the candy.

Fun size candy bars didn’t exist when I was a kid. Now that’s just about what everyone gives. A few years ago I decided to give out what we called nickel bars. I remember how excited we were to get them, and how from year to year we’d return to the houses which passed them out. One was a red house with a huge porch. It was on Main Street right near my friend’s house. Two old ladies usually answered the door. They loved to see the costumes and always complimented us on how good and scary we looked. They gave us Hershey Bars every year. The red house is still there though now it is a business. I always think of those two old ladies every time I go by it. We were so excited to get those Hershey Bars. That memory so filled with delight had me switch to full size bars. The first year I did, a little girl was so excited she yelled to her father waiting on the street, “It’s a big bar.” I knew exactly how she was feeling.

“I like dressing in all seasons. Every season has its own character and charm.”

April 13, 2015

Today is such a glorious Cape spring day with the usual bit of a chill in the morning air, lots of sun and a deep blue sky. My small dafs have bloomed, and my hyacinth has broken through its greenery and stands tall. The birds are at the feeders in big numbers. I love watching them. Dare I say winter has finally skulked away?

As a kid, I wasn’t all that attentive to the changing seasons until spring gave way to summer and vacation. I always saw the seasons as their events. Fall was the start of school and Halloween. One event was dreaded while the other meant weeks of chatting with friends as we walked to school about what we’d wear and where we’d go. Halloween was a countdown event. Winter was Thanksgiving and Christmas, the best holiday of them all. It wasn’t just the arrival of Santa which made Christmas so special. It was everything about it. The anticipation made us giddy. We had a tree and house to decorate, window lights to turn on every night, cookies to bake, wish lists to make and shopping to do. We had a ride to see the lights. Christmas was the best countdown event of them all.

It was a good thing Christmas was so busy as the rest of the winter was sort of empty of all but wishes. We wished for snow and a day off from school hoping to break the tedium. We ice skated on the town rink and at the swamp, my favorite spot. We were in the house early because the dark came so quickly. I didn’t have the sense of winter I do now. Back then it was filled with possibility. Now I mostly feel cold and complain a lot.

Spring had Easter and new clothes, new shoes and Easter baskets. It was riding my bike. It was color returning to the world. It gave me a sense of freedom. I think that’s what I remember the most.

Marching in the Memorial Day parade as a brownie and later as a girl scout was the first sign of summer. It was always sunny and warm that day or at least that’s how I remember it. The end of school was close.

Summer had July 4th but it didn’t really need it. The summer had long days to fill and Sundays at the beach and that would have been enough, but having July 4th was like adding hot fudge sauce to ice cream.

I am still loving the coming of spring with its warmth and color. Spring is filled with anticipation. Summer is still long days to fill but it’s movies on the deck and barbecues.

Now I see the seasons as their own events, as changes, as us moving in a circle. I think my favorite change is this one, the coming of spring. Every day brings surprises. How wonderful is that?

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2014

I never understood how there could be school on Halloween. Did the powers that be actually think we could concentrate on arithmetic or geography? Our minds were filled with thoughts of trick or treating not multiplication or the exports of Chile. Time seemed to stretch forever that day. I’d look at the clock and when next I’d look only a few minutes would have passed since the last time. I gave thought to a trick of the clock, even a haunting, but it was just me clock watching and agonizing over the slowness of the hands moving from one number to another. Recess was all about Halloween. We’d be standing in groups talking about the night to come and the costumes we’d wear. The bell would summon us back, and somehow we’d survive the last part of the day without standing on our desks and screaming out of impatience and frustration. We always ran home.

The afternoon seemed the longest part of the day because we were so close. I’d put on and take off my costume like sort of a dress rehearsal. My mother made us eat dinner. We’d beg to go out trick or treating, but my mother said it was too early, not even dark yet. We’d stare out the picture window begging for darkness or hoping to see the first trick or treater so we could be next. Finally my mother gave in and off we went.

We’d do the neighborhood first, up the hill and around the cul-de-sac. That took the most time. Neighbors were chatty. Finally we’d break free and head down the big hill out of the neighborhood. We didn’t follow the same route every year, but we hit some of the same houses, the nickel bar houses and the houses which gave us pennies. We’d avoid the apple houses.

I remember walking on the sidewalks filled with the shadows of trees from the street lights. I remember leaves covering everything and a few falling as we walked. Houses had their outside lights on as a welcome to trick or treaters. We’d walk all over town filling our pillowcases. When the lights started to go out, we headed for home munching as we walked. The walk home was always quiet.

At home, my mother would give each of us a bowl for our candy. I remember the bowls were white and had tulips on them. We’d empty out our candy then we’d trade. We’d eat as much as we could get away with. I remember every Halloween as being glorious.

“We fetch fire and water, run about all day among the shops and markets, and get our clothes and shoes made and mended, and are the victims of these details, and once in a fortnight we arrive perhaps at a rational moment.”

November 1, 2013

Today is windy, dark and rainy and very warm. It should reach the high 60’s. Last night was perfect for trick or treating. The howling wind made the night sound spooky and leaves whirled in the air as if juggled by unseen spirits. It was warm. I had about fifteen trick or treaters who wore the best costumes I’ve seen in a while. One girl was an elf with all green make-up on her face and arms to match her green costume. The full size candy bars were a hit as were the wind-ups and bubbles. One girl went yelling to her parents that she got a big candy bar. Her father yelled, “Hello, Miss Ryan.” He was a former student and we chatted a bit. At one point I was trying to give candy to a large group of kids and Gracie almost got loose, but I grabbed her just before she could make her escape. She loved Halloween.

Last night I opened a window in my bedroom. I could smell the fresh air, and there was a small breeze. The night birds were singing then I heard a drop and another drop then a bunch of drops. It had started to rain. I listened for a long while. The sound of rain is one of my favorite of all sounds, not a howling, driven rain but a rain of drops plunking on the roof and the side of the house. I fell asleep to the melody of the rain.

Today is meteor day on the Syfy channel. The Earth is endangered in every movie. I’m watching Collision Earth. I had to laugh when the meteors began to fall. Two men started running as meteors were hitting the ground all around them. It was as if the men had been targeted by the falling chunks. They hid behind their car. It was a miracle: not a single meteor hit their car. Two college students were also miraculously saved. They ran, got in their car and clung to each other. Meteors fell all around them but missed them and their car. Another miracle! I’m guessing the Earth is not doomed. I’m thinking another miracle.

Gracie and I have a couple of errands later. I’d rather it be a sloth day but canned dog food is on the list to buy. Gracie thinks dry food is a treat. That’s my fault.