Opening day of autumn!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hi neighbors. Happy Autumn! It is official. Put away the patio furniture. Take in the plants on the porch or deck. There will be frost on the pumpkins any night now.

September is almost over, and the next big thing is Halloween! Of course nowadays we call the entire season "Harvest Festival" or some such made-up-to-sell-stuff name.

There will be a month full of poorly made and less-than scary horror movies on TV. These will be aimed at audiences from toddlers to geriatrics.

I remember when the scariest part of October was finding out whether or not there would be enough food to get the family and the animals through till the wild greens started popping up in early spring.

If you really want a scare, try driving down a Missouri cave-like dirt road (not gravel now, that's just too modern) at dusk. The trees lean over the road covering the lights from the headlights and blocking the sky. Weird shadows dance just out of the reach of your sight on the side of the narrow road. Even if you stay in the middle of the road you can reach out and touch the trees through the windows.

Part of the fright is in knowing the road is so narrow you would have to hop the ditch if another car approached you. You really get scared when you come to steep hills where the sides of the road are washed out and you can't see if any other car is coming up the other side.

Wait till you come to a rattling, rotting, falling-apart bridge with wooden planks in two rows spaced apart down the middle. You have to hope you can stay on the planks with your tires. You have to drive slowly across it or else it starts swaying and really clanking and moaning. And you thought ghosts were frightening!

If you think that's bad, wait till you get home and have to go to the "necessary house" out back; in the dark; down a long path with no street lights. Take your Jack-o'-lantern and any other light source you can dig up. Maybe a turnip with a candle in it if you don't have a big pumpkin.

Horror -- real horror -- hits you as you stand outside the wooden door and find yourself wondering what critter might be hiding in the place where you are about to sit. Just opening the door can bring on a heart attack. What if there are bats? Or a feral cat? Spiders dangling from the roof or hiding in the paper? How about a seasonally challenged setting hen nesting in the corner of the floor? Or a big black snake who crawled in to sit under the hen to get warm?

There are a lot of reasons to shiver when visiting an outdoor privy in cold weather. Of course, outhouses are traditionally a target for tricksters on Halloween. Tipping over a neighbor's outhouse runs only second to tipping over his cows. Beware! They both have their own set of dangers.

There are no astronomers who grew up in the days of outdoor privies. They don't have to ask what's in a black hole and they have no intention of sliding into one while tipping the frame around it.

Cow tippers on the other hand, usually have two things to fear while doing their mischief. One is an irate farmer with a shotgun, and the second is a territorial bull with an attitude.

Of course we have traded all the really "scary" parts of Halloween for lesser adventures. We dress like princesses or super heroes and beg from door to door for candy. The scary part of that comes later when paranoid parents tear off all the wrappers to make sure there are no poisons, pieces of glass, pins or razor blades in the goodies .

What mixed messages we give our children! We preach from the time they can grasp a popsicle stick in their hands to never take candy from strangers! Then we dress them up to look pretty strange themselves and shove them toward strangers (or family dressed like strangers) to threaten them in a form of blackmail to give them candy!

Oh well, I guess we have to make some sacrifices to pay for the indoor plumbing!

Until the next time friends, remember, any holiday is what you make it. We have several weeks left to bring in the harvest and hope for an easy winter.