Besides the colored candy, Halloween was interspersed with gems of loveliness: laughing children, sparkly tulle, some terrific “adult” dark chocolate candies, Chinese lanterns that disappeared into the dark sky. Halloween is not my favorite holiday, with its campy drama, the ghouls and ghosts, the inarguable and irredeemable descent into the darker season.
Later, lying down with my younger daughter before she went to sleep, we talked about the costumes, the walk through village, and how, returning to the library from a friend’s house, the streets were abruptly emptied save for one small turtle boy and his father. All the other trick-or-treaters had gone home. We walked under the glowing streetlights and pretended it was midnight. It was just a handful of us, and we followed a shortcut path between houses that none of us had traveled before. Passing a thick cedar hedge, I remembered visiting its other side, years ago, and tried to push a peephole through the hedge, knowing a secret garden lay on the other side. The children laughed, teasing me, but in those streets so suddenly emptied, in the foggy night air, just about anything might have seemed possible. Had I been able to tease my hands through that hedge, and had I been able to see in that darkened backyard, why shouldn’t I have found golden coneflower blooming? Wouldn’t that have been lovely?
Some nights when news is bad in the world
we go out and look at the sky,
which is dark even before the work day ends
save for pinpoints of stars and sometimes
an ivory disk sailing across it….
– Janisse Ray, “Waiting in the Dark”