October Country

October Country

In October, there are still warm days that feel  like summer. It is a month of ripening, eggplants, pumpkins and the last of the tomatoes. It  is apples and pears and colored leaves. It is a sky so blue  and clear, the light is almost liquid.  It is baseball playoffs and the World Series.

It is twilight when a plastic bag becomes a ghost.  It is frost overnight and sweaters and hoodies in the morning. It is the sound of dry leaves. It is houses decorated for Halloween.

The holiday we know as Halloween is a mash up of pagan, Christian and Victorian customs.  The true origins, lost in time, probably  had to do with the early twilight, and the end of the growing season, the dying of the year. It was a harvest festival and a time to remember ancestors and honor  the dead.

Food offerings were part of the celebration, but the custom of buying candy is a modern thing. I think the concern about wrapped candy  really began seriously in 1982, when the Tylenol killer was in the news about this time. Wrapped candy and safety sealed bottles became the  norm.

Since then, Halloween candy sales have skyrocketed, along with  Halloween decorations, novelties  and costumes. There is even a market for pet costumes. Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of  holiday spending.

October is a spooky time of year. Halloween falls about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. The weather  here at the end of October  is usually cold and windy, maybe rain, even a chance of snow. It gets dark early, now. The shortest days are coming.

Here are some  statistics for Halloween in Chicago--

This is what Ray Bradbury had to say about October--

“October Country . . . that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist....That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. . . .”

― Ray Bradbury, The October Country

 

It is said still that at this time of year, the veil between the worlds grows thin, and the spirits walk among us.

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  • Your picture reminded me that last Sunday I was in Fresh Thyme, and the woman behind me in the checkout line had 4 humongous pumpkins in her cart. I asked her if she had a catapult, and she laughed.

    However, the wrapped candy thing goes back farther than that. My mother said to throw out anything that wasn't wrapped, but when we got to an apple, she said it was from the next door neighbor, so it was o.k. However, there were not public service announcements in those days to take your candy to the police department to have it X-rayed.

  • In reply to jack:

    Greetings, Jack--thanks for reading. I love the pumpkins, too. True, the wrapped candy didn't start with Tylenol killer,
    but it really became the norm after that. I don't remember "fun size candy bars" when I was a kid, do you?

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    I don't recall that, but bags of little candy bars go way back. I liked Krakel.

    But since a current web search results in Amazon selling 60 bar bags, no. We just had what Jewel sold.

  • In reply to jack:

    I think the Tylenol murders, which happened in September and October, did scare people. Safety issues became a big concern.

    Yes, I liked the Milky Ways. Our store-bought candy came from the A&P. They still had "penny candies" like root beer barrels, candy corn and licorice bits at Woolworths when I was a kid, too.

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