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Haunts and Hay

All Saint Charlie Brown Family Farm Food Halloween holiday jack o lantern Minnesota nature Neighbourhood Nova Scotia Seasons transportation Vermont

It’s that time of year when folks have fun being ghosties and goblins, fairies and superheroes.  Pumpkins adorn front stoops, high fructose corn syrup in all shades of orange, yellow and black fill the market shelves, night falls oh-so-much-faster than it did the week before.

It’s the first year in some time that I’m not dressing up for Halloween. Between fighting the flu, trekking from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, Hurricane Sandy and farm duties, I’m afraid there’s no time.

When Jim & I were first married we decked out our home for the neighborhood.  We had a sheet-ghost rigged to wiz across the entranceway, I had donned a witches hat and stirred an imaginary cauldron by the pond, and glowing jack-o-lanterns illuminated the candy filled bowl at the front door.

Nary a soul came down the driveway.

Trick-or-treaters may be thin on our road, but there is a shin-dig in the main part of town (where our one blinking yellow-light resides.)  The fire department puts on a party and a parade and it is jolly for those that attend.  There is a more thickly settled neighborhood there, also, with about a block’s worth of homes for door-to-door walkers.

Instead, we would fill the back of the truck with hay, loading in family, friends and dogs, costumed and armed with pillowcases for treats and warming thermoses of hot mulled cider.  We’d visit 10 or so of our neighbors on the backroads, driving when we could without headlights, and leave a calling card of hay in their driveways when we left.  One couple would have fresh-baked bread, right out of the oven, to share.  Another old friend would have her camera ready for that annual photo she liked to take.  Yes, she used the same camera every year.  Another old neighbor would look forward to our arrival to fill the kids’ pillowcases with fruit and nuts and, well, old stuff from her house.

You know Charlie Brown‘s classic line?  We had our own version: “I got a ceramic giraffe figurine!”

At home we’d unload the loot and the organizing, categorizing and trading would be the next hour’s activity.  Hay and costumes made a trail across the entryway, outside our carved jack-o-lanterns would be turned to face the house so that we could enjoy their glowing faces.

Very rarely we would have a visitor.  The family liked to pick on me that the reason no one came to trick-or-treat at our house was because I put new toothbrushes in the candy bowl.  But, in addition, the bowl became a place for the treats we knew we’d enjoy seeing as they’d likely still be in it by the end of the evening.

An old neighbor liked to frighten us all by appearing in the window with a troll mask, after the front porch lights were extinguished.   The dogs would pee all over the front hall and bark like the end of the world was upon us.  We’d recognize “Steve-the-Beav”(as the kids called him), our heart rates would start to settle and he’d come in for a beer and some leftovers, allowing us to admire his costume in detail.  Then there’d be discussions of baseball and history, school and fishing, Halloween and the neighborhood.

Steve and his wife Connie are not with us now, but I like to think of them about them still, handing out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups(the big ones) and that ol troll mask.

So here’s to community traditions, to All Hallow’s Eve.

And, here’s to All Saint’s Day.

Light some candles, folks.  Enjoy some treats for someone or someones that you loved.  Be goofy.  Be spooky.  Have fun.

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