Truly Scary Halloween
Yellow, orange, and red maple leaves vied for attention on our front yard tree. Our neighbour’s ginkgo seemed to transform itself from green to a uniform yellow overnight. Pumpkins and other gourds adorned walkways, stairs, and porches. Some were carved into jack-o’-lanterns while others remained pristine. Skeletons hanging from tree limbs swayed in the autumn breeze, while black cats with evil-looking yellow eyes peered from behind bushes encrusted with plastic spider webs. Seasonal banners hanging from porch roofs completed the picture of a suburban neighbourhood ready for trick or treaters.
At our house, I’d installed a candy chute, a piece of plastic downspout I attached to our front stair railing. When the hordes descended on us, we could stand on our porch and launch the sugary treats down the spout into baskets and bags. It would provide the mandatory social distancing and entertain the masked marauders.
As afternoon became evening, Mother Nature stepped up. Fog swirled around houses and trees, stirring the multicoloured leaves littering the ground. The city lights, augmented by a harvest moon rising above the eastern horizon, gave the fog an eerie orange glow.
The ambience was perfect. But we heard no screeching of childish voices and saw no black-hatted witches or fairy princesses waving their magic wands. Where were the sidewalk clogging goblins and ghosts with their pillowcases or pumpkin-shaped plastic baskets?
COVID-19’s second wave had descended upon us. The Celtic celebration of Samhain, or as we call it, Halloween, wasn’t to be. Civic governments discouraged celebration of the ancient harvest festival, and parents wouldn’t send their youngsters door to door demanding treats.
This latest salvo in the pandemic story was truly scary. When, if ever, would life return to normal?