Saturday, October 31, 2009


Halloween has always been one of my favorite celebrations. I especially love carving pumpkins, where my less than artistic talents can still shine. My young nieces liked the faces on the big round pumpkins that we created together (mostly). After scooping out slimy pumpkin guts and seeds, my 6-old niece vanished for awhile. The younger one arrived after her smiley face was done. They didn't seem to notice that the jester looked more like a rabbit, or that the eyeballs were different sizes. My sister's pumpkin was more symmetrical -- she has a better eye for that -- and her kids loved them all. Once we lit the candles and turned out the lights, the jack-o'-lanterns came alive.

As a fan of chocolate, Halloween always challenged my self-discipline. I remember as a kid spreading out the night's haul on a card table and trading big (and they were big back then) candy bars with my brother. We were always a bit tentative visiting the neighbor that handed out raisins and other healthy foods. Not that we were afraid of these "treats," we were just on the hunt for candy, and lots of it.

In our New Hampshire community Halloween is celebrated on October 30th. I can't explain why -- something about looking for a treat this night, and if a house fails you, then you return the next night (Oct 31st) to play a trick on them. We go with the flow, so I lit my rabbit-like jester jack-o-lantern and waited for a small gaggle of neighbors to stop by. We served up Lindt chocolates, local Macoun apples, and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. Kids and parents alike endulged in all three. One youngster commented, "this apple is great." Good to know that kids like healthy food and neighbors trust neighbors with homemade food.

Halloween also ushers in a transition from early fall when trees are cloaked in brilliant colors to late fall when winds blow hard and leaves fall quickly. Our eyes shift from looking up at trees in fall colors to our feet as we shuffle through layers of crisp, fallen leaves, still colorful in their bronzes, coppers, maroons, and deep yellows.

Coppery beech leaves on Halloween day.

Sugar maple leaves, still in bold yellows,
as they fall to earth on a warm, blustery Halloween

Oak and beech leaves - copper and bronze - congregate in late fall

The garlic is planted, plans for a Thanksgiving family gathering are underway, raking leaves is the chore of choice, and the winds are shifting. Snow is not far behind.

Happy Halloween

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