I visualize the bins of Halloween decor in the attic and excitedly pre-plan how I am going to change the interior of our house into a welcoming Halloween wonderland. Recipes are dug out early and placed behind the summer recipes at my cooking station, yet are strategically placed to peek out of the back of the mess to remind me that hearty soups and fall meals are just around the corner. Halloween costumes are hunted down and bought by the middle of August, and I snoop around the pumpkin patch and try and forecast the motherlode of orange that will drip from my porch come late September.
This year, that almost didn't happen at all. I usually treat myself and wait until the latter part of August to start my snooping and squealing over my pumpkin patch, but one foggy late July morning something caught my eye out there in what we call "the big garden" where we have our baby fruit orchard and pumpkin/corn patch. "Wasn't there a tree there just yesterday?.... I thought, as I hurriedly opened the gate that morning. Yes, there was supposed to be a tree there, but instead, my three year old apple tree lay broken on the ground, sheared into jaggedy shards of deadened wood. My hands flew to my face and my mouth turned into a small hole that moaned a high pitched "Noooooo!!" Our ten foot fenced, barbed wire fortress of a garden had been breached. My eyes grew wider as I stumbled around the freshly hoofed earth and surveyed the damage. At least three trees gone, dead, caput. The rest nibbled to nubbins looking pathetic and helpless, and awkwardly naked. My coveted Asian pear trees...they barely had a pulse. And oh,...my sunflowers?? what sunflowers??....My sweet rows of my favorite flower ever to grow was gone. All that was left was skinny bright green legs of what was to be a tower of flowers. This is the first year in nine years that I have not had sunflowers in my garden. My pumpkins!! I ran to them and pulled my braids taut in anger. They were nibbled through and the small premature fruit tasted with one wide open gash. Each.one.of.them. I think I cried, but I'm not sure. I know I called Jeremy to rant and holler about how I was done, and how they win, and how "yes...fine, you can eat Bambi..." Over the years I have done a good job of discouraging Jeremy from hunting on the property but in a fit of anger I caved. Fine, do it. But I still won't eat it.
I spent the rest of the summer shooting glare daggers at deer and ignoring the patch, but still watering it, just in case a pumpkin or two magically appeared. Late September I happened in there not expecting much, and the angels sang, and the sun shined down, because there they were! Pumpkins!
They were by no means prize winners, and smaller than normal, but still bulbous happy porch loungers. I also scored some delicata squash, two blue hubbards, some red kuri, two gold nuggets and a handful of my most favorite pumpkins ever: Baby Boo's. The harvest was about a quarter of normal but I am grateful for it. Happy for a better ending to a otherwise sad story.
|My one and only pitiful little sunflower.|
Another thing happens in our household come the first of October. Ready to get spooked? Before you think I'm weird (er), or full of it, here is my disclaimer: I do have an active imagination and have been told by my mother that sometimes the lines between my imagination and reality can blur. She told me this at a young age to quell my fears of what I was sure lived in my closet, but that quote has always stuck with me, and I go to it when there is something strange or a feeling I cannot explain.
Rewind to 1995. I am standing on the deck of Jeremy and mine's apartment with Jeremy and some of our friends. It is night, and for some reason I glance over to the window that looks into our living room. We are all outside, but there is this figure near the couch, leaning to the side trying to get a look out at us. It is smallish, about three and a half to four feet or so, a thick triangle in shape with rounded corners and it is Pure black. The blackest black I've ever seen. I blink just in case it was a fleeting shadow, but it is still there, and leans even further as if it is peeking at us. I breathe in sharply because I am not sure what to do and I open my mouth to say what, I don't know, but it sees me see it, and disappears very quickly. Did I just see that? I am scared, but don't say anything to Jeremy, 'cause it sounds crazy. A couple weeks later and we are getting ready in our bedroom, and I am sitting on our bed and I see it again. This time, it is skirting down our hallway. It goes back, and it goes forth. I tell Jeremy this time because now I'm really freaked out and he checks and sees nothing, of course. My mind remembers my mothers quote, and I realize yes, I might just be seeing things. Years go by and I don't think of it much. We move twice and there is nothing. It is a late December night in 2001, and I am eight months pregnant with Vanessa. Jeremy has gone to bed, and I am sitting on the couch watching TV. I glance out the window to the side of the TV and there it is...Peeking at me! I can barely make out the outline against the dark, but it is familiar one, and so black. This time, I am not scared, but very angry. How dare you peek at me?! While I'm pregnant!!! I toss the blanket off my belly and rush to heave myself up. You see, mama bear was awakened, and no one messes with mama bear, even if they are faceless, globby black weird things that my mind can't really decipher. This angry mama bear feeling is empowering and I don't see it again...except maybe when I was seven or so months pregnant with Gracie. I am awakened in the middle of the night and in the darkness there is a form standing by my side of the bed. I let out a blood curdling scream which awakens Jeremy and I go to the bathroom and cry my eyes out because I am afraid. Not so much afraid of what I was or wasn't sure I saw, but because I was just so afraid of everything at that moment. Gracie's pregnancy was incredibly emotionally painful and the tears came frequently and heavily, and that set it off. That nights fright could have been the outline of my robe hanging in the night, but I won't call that a true sighting, but a maybe. I'm just not sure.
|Spookiest picture I could find. Creepy owl in our back woods.|
Fast forward to this time of year about two years ago. Jeremy is in the shower, I am vacuuming downstairs. It is late evening and Grace is in her room with the door open, playing. I turn off the vacuum and hear her feet scurry fast to the bathroom where Jeremy is. I hear mumbled voices, then she scurries and practically flings herself down the stairs at me. She has seen something in her doorway, she says. She beings to describe it to me...black...faceless..tall...peeking at her.. The red pegs on my anger scale, and I thunder loudly upstairs with her since she is now afraid of her room. I have never mentioned anything to her about my "peeker." I think to myself, wildly. It is one thing to be messing with me, but with her, I am sooo ready to fight. We get up to her room, and there is of course, nothing. I dance, and sing, and tell her over an over not to be afraid, but she is. She wants to know what it was. Why it was there. I don't want to dismiss her and tell her it was nothing because she was sure she saw something so my mind whirls up a story and thus, the Halloween Trickster was born, which has now become a tradition in our house. The Halloween trickster comes around for the month of October and messes with you, but mostly hides Halloween books and little gifts randomly around the house for you to find. Over the years he has hid those Halloween books in her underwear drawer, under Dad's pillow, in her bathroom cabinet, and next to the cereal in the pantry. Sometimes he puts her pillow on the wrong end of the bed, or leaves a Tootsie roll in one of her shoes, or turns all of her jackets inside out. You never know what that silly trickster will do next. That quelled her fears and lets us have some fun with the unexplained. Over dinner tonight, I asked her about that little uninvited visit a couple years ago and she didn't remember it, so it must not have scarred her too bad. Me? I still am confused about what I saw or if maybe my mom was right...blurred lines. My sister calls me her "spooky sister" for my gravitation towards the unknown, and for dreams that have foreseen things, and for knowing things about people they haven't told me yet. Sometimes I'll mention to Jeremy "so and so is coming by today" and they will randomly show up and I will say, "see?" He would look at me and ask me how I knew and I would say "I don't know, I just....knew." Gracie might have these spidey senses too, and my sister and I have come to the conclusion that it may be caused by how both me and Grace came into this world: Not breathing and in a struggle. Both of us were being strangled by the umbilical cord. One foot in this world, one foot out. Straddling both sides. Maybe it has awakened parts of us that are meant to be asleep? I don't know. Sometimes, more frequently than not, the unexplained has to remain a mystery, yet there are so many things my mind grasps to understand...like phone calls in the middle of the night, and no one is there, not even on the caller ID...like coming into your bedroom after you've taken a shower and the VCR has been turned on and is playing, and you are the only one in the house...like black little beings that stalk you, and peek at you, and give you the creeps....