As Expected: The Halloween Column

  By now, you know the ritual–this is my weekly newspaper column:

                One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
              One need not be a house;
              The brain has corridors surpassing
              Material place. ~  Emily Dickinson

      

Haunted House

Haunted House (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

  There is a rhythm to life. Expectations that must be met. If you are a columnist and it is the last week in golden October then you just naturally turn to the subject of Halloween. And you remember your love/hate relationship with the celebration of the dark night of the soul, or as I prefer to think of it—the night of endless chocolate, chewy caramels, and remembrances of homemade popcorn balls and chocolate chip cookies packaged prettily in cellophane.

        Again, against my better judgement, I bought one of those boxes of chocolate bars that I am particularly fond of—a combo of Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini O’Henry chocolate bars, and Hershey’s milk chocolate bars with peanuts. I have now pretty well emptied the box, having shared only a few of the treats with my husband (lest you think I am mean, he is diabetic after all-don’t want to kill the guy!) so I have had to purchase more candy. I was careful this time to buy candy that does not speak to my sweet tooth but will still pass muster with the few kids destined to show up at my house on Thursday night.

       

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...

 Candy corn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of trick or treaters have dwindled over the years—as my sons grew older, so did their friends, and no one seems to be replacing that crew at my door—something that is both a relief and disappointment. I remember fondly the days of excitement leading up to the grand day of chocolate and all things sweet—the costumes and smeary grease paint, the adventure of walking out the door knowing we would come home with a bounty of cavity causing booty, my sneaky swiping of my favourite chocolate bars from my sons’ cache bagged unceremoniously in pillow cases. Ah—the good old days!

        Halloween has become big business. So much so that it seems to rival Christmas in our affections. I guess the ‘shadow’ side of life needs to be given its moment in the sun, and this weekend The National Post took the whole Halloween, death, and dying thing for a spin—making death the cornerstone of many of their articles, opinion pieces, and columns. I read a bit of it and was left feeling overexposed to the subject and a little bit creeped out. Do I really want to know that Marilyn Monroe’s last meal consisted of stuffed mushrooms, meatballs and Dom Perignon, or that Cleopatra noshed on figs before meeting her demise?

        One section of the paper was devoted to “The Look of Death”, touting black as the new black; another section was called “13 Spectral Street” contemplating the scariest address in town; a third section shouted “How We Die Now” and elucidated on “the new ways we deal with death.” And, not to be left out, the financial section headline was “Death and Money.” Usually the National Post is my favourite weekend paper, but not so this weekend. I lightly perused its pages, alighting carefully on articles that were not too gruesome, but in truth, skipped most of its content. Even Rex Murphy, who I find eloquently toothsome in his descriptions, was a disappointment with his wish at the end of his column that everyone have a “happy, grey, grim Halloween”. Death, a topic possibly ripe for Halloween was overdone in this edition. The paper is now in the recycle pile—none of it saved for further study or rereading.

        I am a fan of the Halloween that produces fairies and Cinderellas, dinosaurs and robots. Not for me the monsters, or skeletons, and if the ghost is Casper, then I am okay with that. The macabre does not fascinate me; death does not beguile me; tombstones are not the delight of my décor. Inexplicably I do have a soft spot in my heart for witches and wizards, probably as a result of being brought up on the television program “Bewitched” with enchanting Samantha and her charming nose twitch (something I practiced a lot as a kid to no avail.)

        So, in opposition to Rex’s desire that you have a grim Halloween, I wish you as many trick or treaters at your door as you desire, chocolate dreams, and caramel apple wishes.

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm  Comments (35)  
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Emily ~ I Barely Knew You

Emily Dickinson Poems Book Cover

Emily Dickinson Poems Book Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelle, the WordPress Taskmaster has set out a prompt for those of us churning out a poem a day for April. In her inimitable style she prompted: “National Poetry Writing Month is nearly at end. To celebrate it, try your hand at some verse.” Then she suggested that it be similar to Dickinson—and at first I thought–<Angie Dickinson wrote poetry?> Then I came to the realization that, duh….. she meant Emily.

So this is me channelling Emily Dickinson (perhaps a bit tongue in cheek as I do not have her finesse). I think I should get at least a special mention for trying:

Day, Afternoon, Night

 Oh glorious morning

Thy bright warm sun

And chirping birds

Welcome us to a new dawn

 

As noon arrives

We nourish ourselves

No insipid day

Lies before us

 

Oh lovely mid-afternoon

Thy gentle breezes

Blow fresh newness

Into our magnificent day

 

Early evening warmth and delight

We bask in your glory

And wonder how we

Deserve such bounty

 

Night descends

Quietly without solemnity

We wind down from our busy day

Relax and enjoy our families.

 

The joy of midnight

Is upon us

We are enchanted by the dark

We rest to receive the new morrow.

Admittedly I was having a bit of fun here, but some of the things I mentioned in the poem do add up to a blissful day. Do you have anything to add?

Published in: on April 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm  Comments (27)  
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fall

Cover to 1893 edition of Ramona by Helen Hunt ...

Cover to 1893 edition of Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a repeat of a post that appeared in this blog last September–the difference is, last September I had about ten followers and now I have 363–so I have edited it and am posting it again.

It is now or never. Actually, it is now, or wait another year. It is the last few days of September and if I am to use the poem, aptly called “September Poem” by Helen Hunt Jackson, I had better get to it. Hard to believe it is the end of September, with October banging on the door. This is my favourite time of year. Many consider fall the harbinger to winter,  but it is a time those of us not prone to look beyond our noses, enjoy.

Many of the things mentioned in Ms. Jackson’s poetic tribute to September are felt in October. So for your reading pleasure, and without much further ado, I present

“September Poem”

The golden rod is yellow; the corn is turning brown,

The trees in apple orchards–with fruit are bending down;

The gentian’s bluest fringes are curling in the sun;

In dusty pods the milkweed–its hidden silk has spun;

The sedges flaunt their harvest in every meadow nook,

And asters by the brookside make asters in the brook;

From dewy lanes at morning the grapes’ sweet odour rise;

At noon the roads all flutter with yellow butterflies—

By all these lovely tokens, September days are here,

With summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.

Admit it, does this poem, (if you are of a certain age) not take you back to the days of grammar school when we were forced to learn a certain number of lines of poetry in order to pass our language course? I remember sitting in at recess and noon hours when I was in grade four learning line upon line of poetry, to be recited to the teacher before being allowed to go outside.

I hated memorizing poetry—but things that rhymed were much easier to remember than prose poems. If I had been acquainted with Ms. Jackson, this would have been a poem I would have chosen to memorize—although for the life of me, I do not know what a gentian is, or what sedges are, but that can be remedied by a quick Google.

Okay I am back from Googling (and I must say a good time was had by all). Here is my report: Gentians are a pretty flower-like plant, and sedges are kind of a grass. I guess from the context of the poem, you get that idea, but I just wanted to make sure.

A little background:

Born in 1831 in Massachusetts, Helen Hunt Jackson lived until 1885 and was described as “the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly individual woman of her time”. If even one of those little descriptions were allotted to me, I would be happy. She also had some pretty noteworthy friends: Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Now wouldn’t that be a dinner party you would not mind attending?

September Rose

September Rose (Photo credit: Arlo Bates)

Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm  Comments (21)  
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