October by Karen Shughart

The leaves have turned, some fallen, and walking through the village our feet trample upon a carpet of brilliant colors. Stacks of pumpkins: pale green, yellow, orange, and white, are artfully arranged on steps leading up to front porches or peek out among decaying flowers. Wreaths rimmed with leaves of every shape and color, small green and white gourds, slender wheat stalks and delicate twigs adorn doorways, some homemade; others purchased at local craft shows.    Artfully placed wicker or galvanized metal baskets filled with pinecones are redolent with cinnamon and cloves.

On a cool morning, just after the rising of the sun, small herds of deer congregate in yards, nibbling away at their morning libations, white-tipped tails pointed straight up, in case of danger. But in our village there’s no need to fret;  instead early walkers pull out cell-phone cameras to capture the moment and the deer, with their soulful eyes alert, continue their task once they realize they are safe.

A block away our neighbors turn their yard into a ghoulish graveyard with tombstones covered in spidery cobwebs indicating those who are buried there:  Barry DaLive; Emma Goner; Ima Rotten, Ben Better, Anita Moore-Tishan, Berry D. Hatchet. Here and there, skeletons sway from the ghoulish branches of trees, some with limbs now barren, and you’ll see hay bales made to look like Minions, courtesy of the Neighborhood Association.

The screech owls, quiet during most of the summer and through September, now make their presence known. Their eerie sounds, terrifying at best, can be heard after most have of us have gone to bed, reminding us that something, soon, will be afoot. It’s called Halloween.

Halloween, here in our village on the south shore of Lake Ontario, when the nights are cold and an occasional early snowfall adds to the mood, is really a season. You can feel and see its presence starting not too long after Labor Day. Everyone is excited about Halloween: the children, most of all, and their parents who help them with their costumes, but also adults whose children have grown. There used to be house parties, and parties at restaurants and pubs, a time to let loose, enjoy the season, some folks in costume; others, not. This year will be different.

Here the celebration of Halloween is a throwback to earlier and safer times. Parents accompany the younger ones, who knock on our door yelling “trick or treat”, then reach out with their plastic pumpkins, open at the top, for the treats. It’s safe enough for the older ones to travel by themselves in groups. In our village, we all look after them. Well-trained in niceties, they remember to say “thank-you”, tiny ones urged on by their elders lest they forget. People in this village understand the concept of gratitude.

October is a time of transition. With its deep brilliancy it reminds us that slowly creeping stealthily in behind it is winter, a time of white silence and shadows.

17 thoughts on “October by Karen Shughart

  1. I was busy and going to skip reading this….am sooo very glad I decided to read it. Just beautiful prose capturing what I am seeing this October. Thanks for putting it in words!


  2. We don’t have quite the same fall here in the foothills of the Sierra, though some of the trees are changing color and the nights are cooler, but the days are still in the 80s. This is my favorite time of year. A day care here is doing a drive-by trick or treat. We never have trick or treaters because we live down a dark long lane. None of the neighbors are close to the main road either so when kids did trick or treat they went to other neighborhoods.


  3. Beautifully expressed, Karen! Positive and upbeat, in spite of all the things of concern that are all around us this year. Thank You!


  4. Thanks. No idea yet whether the kids in the village will be trick or treating. We had no Covid cases in our village, and now we do.


  5. The way you describe everything it sounds lovely! Here we have the same as most of the year, yellow grass, sagebrush, and alfalfa fields darkening from the cold nights. We live so far apart we don’t get trick or treaters and this year, I believe any of the events have been cancelled.


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