What lights the
Jack-o-lantern of the soul

Punkin GhostIn the oppressive Ohio Valley heat of July and August, when stepping outside is like taking a warm bath wearing all your clothes in the middle of a Vietnamese jungle, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain the Halloween Spirit.

In fact, it seems like my enthusiasm wanes more as the mercury rises, time drags, and domestic distractions scream for attention. A wave of confusion and disorderliness threatens to overwhelm.

That wild, overgrown tangle of weeds in the yard sends tendrils to lick at the back door. An ever-thickening shroud of dust and clutter that I never seem to have time to clean reminds me that it’s there like an unwelcome and unwashed houseguest who leaves his socks draped over the couch and toenail clippings on the floor. Entropy exerts itself mercilessly and a steep slide into depression is an unremitting threat.

And then someone pokes his head down into the hole and says something nice like, “I really like your pumpkins.” Or, “I’ve always wondered how to do that. Thanks!”

This occasional voice out of nowhere, some tiny praise, a shared memory, or even a call for “heeelllp!” re-lights that little Jack-o-lantern fire inside us. Because sometimes that grinning, glowing ember that holds all our best secrets and keeps our bones from turning to dust – Sometimes that light flickers.

Are we really such attention hogs? Is a pat on the back so important to we haunter-types with names like CB radio handles and spaghetti websites and garages filled with all of Dante’s horrors?

I think that it’s not the pat, but the implicit hug. Acceptance. Approval. These aren’t always our daily companions, so when they drop by for a visit, the temperature plunges to 68 degrees and the moon glows orange.

Halloween blows in on a brisk wind of licorice and candle wax, and a thousand trunks in a thousand attics thump altogether to rearrange the skeletons and wolf-mans and mummies within – tattered costumes still scented with last year’s leaves and bubble gum.

And a tiny Jack-o-lantern flares back to life, and smokes, and perfumes the air with the smell of roasting pumpkin.

Thanks to Andy for his kind and thoughtful comments that turned a muggy summer day into a chilly October evening. With bats.

5 Responses to “What lights the
Jack-o-lantern of the soul”

  1. Have I ever mentioned that I almost squeal in delight when you update your blog? That I’ve sat and read through your tutorials and dreamed of Grumbles and giant jack-o-lanterns? That when I found your website, I thought I’d hit the jackpot?

    It’s like you said, it’s a hug, it’s approval, it’s acceptance. It’s discovering that someone else out there loves Halloween as much as you do and dreams yearlong of the October Country, too.

    Take a long weekend someday soon. Take it easy.

  2. GOD, YES!!! But you really need to stop stealing all of your poetic imagery from Bradbury’s “Halloween Tree” is good, but it’s not the only Halloween book.
    Try “Something Wicked this Way Comes”.
    Paper moths fluttering in the October breeze…

  3. You mean there’s another book about Halloween? :)

  4. It’s not strictly about Halloween. But it uses late October as a backdrop and A LOT of good Bradburian imagery.

  5. Oh. Well, maybe after I finish jumping over the ravine at the edge of town. :)