Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Allure of Autumn

Leaves are falling, as are temperatures. All I can say is YEA!

Autumn has always been my favorite season. As a child, raking leaves into super large piles and jumping into them with neighborhood friends and cousins was THE event that meant fall has come! 
After this, in the early evening, Dad and Uncle George (or whatever Uncle was around at the time) would light that pile. We always stood far away from the flames until they burnt to glowing embers. Then, we were allowed to toast some marshmallows. The best part of it all was knowing that, soon, Halloween would be upon us. 

We all loved Halloween up north. Our town had a huge parade with floats and bands and many categories to participate in. The categories, which anyone could sign up for,  included many different types of costumes, props and themes. Families and groups often created wonderfully imaginative constructions and elaborate costumes. What I found out after several years of attending the event was that it was judged and prizes were awarded for the tops in each category. 

'The townspeople would line up on both sides of Main Street and watch the line of costumed walkers, wagon-pullers, flatbed truck floats, intricately constructed castles, robots and rocket ships. I recall seeing the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz one year. Of course, witches, ghosts and skeletons were always in abundance, too. 
Yoda and other Star Wars characters make for
great costume ideas nowadays

The year I was 10, I decided I wanted to be in the parade myself. My mother had sewn my Uncle Ed a witch costume with a great black, pointy hat for a party he was going to attend. I asked if I could use it, too, after his party, so I was allowed to wear it in the parade. The costume came complete with a green, hideous, craggy-faced mask, but I wasn't satisfied. So, I crafted a broom from a good sized tree branch, some dry weeds I pulled from along a neighbor's fence and a bit of twine. It came out really good. 

However, I still felt that I needed a "hook" - something to make my witch stand out in a crowd - and brainstormed a variation of the usual black cat riding on the broom. My version had a dark brown, stuffed dachshund (that belonged to my brother) astride my broom. To clarify, I wore a sign around my neck stating, "So? I'm allergic to cats." I won third prize in the Traditional category and a whopping $6.25! A small fortune for a ten year old in the early sixties. 
Granny square afghan with pumpkins, sunflowers and daisies for fall

Obviously, this was a gigantic part of my childhood and an experience I'd never forget. 

After moving down south in the early '70s, it became apparent that our new home base was not much in favor of Trick n' Treating or Halloween in general. No parades, no parties, no Tricks, no Treats. An era had been bypassed. It's no small wonder I ended up going back north, as a young adult, to enjoy several more years of Halloween parades and nights.

 My home town still has its traditional, annual Halloween parade, and, while the southern town I now live in finally gave up the anti-ghost, so to speak, and now embrace Halloween decorations and kids in costumes going house to house, it's still nothing like what so thrilled us as children. That's not to say there aren't some homegrown rituals that may be just as thrilling for the people who grew up down here in the hinterlands - it's just that I've not yet been able to figure out what they may be. 

crocheted pumpkins and leaves

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