Season of the Witch


Witches and Ghosts flying fiercely in strong wind, miniature, unthreatening creatures except at night.

  • People react as strangely to prosperity as they do to adversity.  At the time of the Black Death, chains of people danced through the streets, while others played erotic games like those in Boccaccio.  Today there is a wave of brutal terror and horror films, rising interest in the day of the dead and its like being a jovial social holiday.
  • Perhaps it is more comforting to confront deep fears we can visualize _ death, uncontrollability of life, huge issues like global warming _ are too abstractly frightening to focus on for long.  In a time of increasing economic and social anxiety, there is a release in having a solid skeleton or evil clown coming at us.


Our neighborhood has not been too badly terrorized by oversize yard displays _ this one is kinda cute.
  • Not long ago, vast yard displays were reserved for Christmas.  But now lots of holidays have somebody trying to outdo the other, and Halloween is no exception.  When our boys were growing up, a single crudely carved pumpkin or homemade scarecrow (shirt and pants stuffed with leaves, painted old pillowcase as a head) was more than enough.  But now, Halloween has taken its rightful place in the land of the obese.  More pumpkins than a farm, spinning lights on houses, anatomically correct plastic skeletons and yards filled with spider webs and anything else anyone can market.
  • Yet at the same time, the oddly joyful evening has vanished.  Children would rather go to parties, like their parents.  Guardians are terrified of poisoned candy (or apples, I suppose.)  Elderly homeowners refuse to open their doors to uncredentialed strangers, especially odd-looking ones.  Youth-run households don’t answer the doorbell at all without an associated smart-phone text.
  • It is all inevitable, and a bit sad, and seems to represent something profound about how the American character has changed.  Thinking about that is scary indeed.


Hard to find color this year, even in usually reliable cemetery locations, as November begins.
  • Suffer not a witch to live ….
  • Unless, of course, she is on our side


Finally enough color everywhere to resemble an impressionist landscape.
  • Halloween is now worldwide, mostly an extension of year-round horror and apocalyptic entertainment.  The common theme is good happy people destroyed by uncontrolled evil _ either all at once or one by one by some unstoppable force.
  • Those, of course, represent the true fears of our age.  Will life or happiness be extinguished by job loss, drunken car crash, cancer, terrorism, crime, or some universal catastrophe?  Or any of the other reiterated issues slammed to our attention by pundits and politicians and interest groups.
  • Some escape into addicted obliviousness.  For the rest there is only enforced focus and packaging those fears into something tangible like a movie or holiday.  Which, hopefully, we can laugh at and then ignore.


Almost too many beautiful scenes _ well, there always are but I tend to take them for granted.
  • When I was a young child, little was as scary as skittering leaves on dark eerily moonlight nights as suddenly cold winds moaned through the trees.  Forced to go out and encounter such was a lesson in controlling fear and overcoming it with brave costumes and the promise of sweet rewards.
  • As the child is in the man, I still get a shiver sometimes when I walk down the driveway on such evenings.  I carry within me the ghosts of all I have known, and the common fear of the grim reaper of death and the grey reapers of declining capacity.  I try to appreciate the beauties of the moment, but my deeper soul can discern closing foot prints.


Tropical annuals in midsummer form, as daylight saving time ends.
“Hi, Karen, how was Halloween this ye
ar?” asks Mark as they meet while picking out broccoli at the market.
“Very good, thank you, and …”
“I went as a witch!” pipes up Lisa from down below.
“I wanted to be a witch,” her friend David mutters sullenly.  “They made me go as stupid Batman.”
“Boys can’t be witches,” states Lisa firmly.
“Oh, dear, one of those?” asks Karen.
“Yeah,” sighs David.  “No matter PC and all that, in this culture witches are traditionally women, after all.”
“It’s fiction at this point,” notes Karen.  “They’ll grow out of it soon enough.”

“One can only hope.”


Goldenrod in its final stage graces the waterfront with fluff and spikes.
A witch with her broom flying high
Did unspeakable acts in the sky
When asked to explain
She said she felt no shame:

“A modern girl’s just gotta try.”

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