BLOG-All Hallowed Eve
- Published: November 1, 2015
The sky is gray with clouds but the kind of clouds that hold back their tears. I walk across the grass of Mills Lawn and join the line of parents outside the elementary school. The front doors of the school open and children in elaborate costumes exit, older children flanking the younger hand in hand. They parade past the gathered eager, expectant spectators. It is the first time in three years that forture has shined. The weather is favorable, and today the children of Mills Lawn will parade in costume through the streets of Yellow Springs.
My son is among the first thirty children out of the building. He is hand in hand with a guerrilla and a goddess. The goddess herself has two charges and so I relieve her to stand at the side of my son. We turn left on Walnut, right at the Corner Cone on Dayton Street, then right again at Corry Street to meet the police car stopping traffic at Xenia Avenue. We wait here at the corner of Xenia and Corry until a section of Xenia Avenue is cleared of traffic. My son points out the police officer and his patrol vehicle to his teacher Mrs Jen Clark. She asks him if he is a police officer also, and he proudly puts his hand to the brim of his cap and asserts that he is. When she asks if he knows who she is, we laugh in good humor at her “Pete the Cat” costume with cat shoes on! When the coast is clear, we cross the street and parade up the sidewalk to many oohs and ahhs from villagers. Principal Housh is dressed as Dr Suess and walks up and down the line beside us making sure that all is well and that we turn back to the school at the corner of Limestone and Xenia.
Once back inside Mills Lawn, the children walk across the stage in the cafeteria. My son crosses the stage with his buddy the gorilla. We meet on the floor in front of the stage and settle ourselves down criss cross apple sauce in the front row. From here, we enjoy the colorful, strutting display as the rest of the school parades past. Everyone is so into this moment. No one holds back, and the costumes impress in their range, their individuality, and their unabashed embrace of illusion.
The next day is Halloween and at 5:50pm our kids and their friends are assembled outside raring to go. The village of Yellow Springs has some very fine traditions, and many all at once on Beggar’s Night. At 6pm the children are off like a cannon shot, the two soccer pros in full sprint followed by a blue suited police officer armed with a jack-o-lantern. The rest keep close on their heels though more modestly paced. Their first stop is at the police squad car that has just pulled up to the corner. The call goes up “Trick or Treat” loud and clear and they are enraptured at their prospects criss crossing the streets of the neighborhood. The sky is still bright but altered as twilight filters slowly down over the scene.
It is the perfect evening. A light breeze brushes past us as we set off…like passing spirits…but quickly dissipates. The air is still now, and we walk sidewalks and streets littered with luminous yellow and red leaves. A few cars roll through the neighborhoods slowly but mostly we have the block to ourselves. We watch as children carrying bright orange pumpkins bounce this way and that like brightly colored ping pongs.
Normally, after trick or treating around the two blocks south of our house, the children are ready to sit out the rest of beggars night at one of the neighborhood bonfires. This evening however, with the weather so warm and everyone feeling fresh, we keep going. I find my daughter waiting for me at a house on the next block. She is stationed in front of the infamous haunted garage. She has promised herself that she will brave the inside this year but not alone. I agree to walk beside her into the cavernous pitch-black spider hole. In we go. Two minutes later, we stumble outside in six separate pieces we are so besides ourselves with fright. To reward her valor, I promise that we’ll head straight to the next bonfire. My son meets up with us along the way all big eyes at the big haul of candy he has massed. He agrees to join us. Our band of three soon becomes four as my husband Jeremy swoops in. Jeremy is the delight of the night’s beggars with his dead-on take of Professor Severus Snape. Black hair and black flowing robes, he is an imposing, serious figure holding his own even against a very tall, very menacing Darth Vader. Fortunately, the Gryffindor crowd are known for their bravery. Even the first years step up to ask to have their pictures taken with the Hogwarts Potions master.
We make the bonfire as twilight segues into nightfall. The community bonfires on Halloween are a much cherished tradition in the village. Just as the night chill threatens to sink in deeply, the fire pits offer company, sustenance, and comfort. In the darkness, we see the sparks fly first, then the long white table which we know holds hotdogs, marshmallows, powdered donuts, and cider.
My son waits patiently for a roasting fork while my daughter manages to rustle up a long branch with a crooked end. They load up their cooking implements with hotdogs and look for a place at the fire. We find a spot along a low wall formed by several large logs standing upright in a half circle about the fire. The logs block the intense heat at the base of the fire. This fire is extremely hot. We need only to rest the roasting implements so that our hotdogs hover above the flame. The dogs cook quickly, visibly in seconds. We watch as sausage skin bubbles and browns. The children are entranced as smoking silhouettes metamorphose against the bright flash of flame. I pluck the dogs of their sticks for them, and they sit and watch the fire as they eat. Together we relish our food. We repeat the process but in fast-motion as we roast our marshmallows. We turn the white cylinder of sugar in one smooth continuous motion as it bubbles and browns to perfection. The heat-scorched, sugary treat is topped only by a visit from a passing firetruck. Red flashing lights, a great rumbling engine, and handouts of full sized candy bars delight our son to full reverent awe.
We return to the house certain that we have overstayed in our grand rambling adventure. We are astonished to find that in fact we have been away only 90 minutes. Jeremy and I hand out cups of hot cider to the returning adults as everyone’s children sit at our feet spilling out the evening’s spoils. The party continues for over two hours as the children take to the quidditch pitch in the backyard. Now that the children are older we indulge each others’ company. Even my youngest—when I ask if he’s ready for pajamas, a book, and a laydown in the master bedroom—says, “No, no, we have to wait until our company goes home.” He is growing up but, like his sister, full vested in All Hallowed Eve…all amazement, all reverence…all in the name of very good fun.