With October upon us, thoughts turn to Halloween. Many years ago I wrote the following about that celebration. "Halloween -- what a special holiday it is, particularly if the skies are clear and a splendid moon rides high. Confidentially, I still expect, some Hallow's Eve, to catch sight of a witch riding side-saddle on her broom, silhouetted against that moon. When and if I do, it will be of little note as no one would believe me anyway."
I went on to say, "On a more practical level, there is the matter of tricks-or-treats. I love every moment of that. However, I do prefer ghosts, black cats and goblins to clowns and Disney characters. The old pre-Christian roots of Halloween stretch back to those mystical early Druids -- priests and wizards of the ancient Celts. Perhaps my Ulster heritage, if traced to its origins, might account for some of my feelings. At any rate, the mysterious excitement of the season and all its implications stir me anew each year.".
I continued by evoking memories of our little ones, outfitted for the neighborhood scrounging, as well as for the big downtown parade we always had. Treats had to be readied and tiny folk, too small for all the activity, had to be protected from the fright that too-realistic costuming could provide. The Jack-o-Lanterns were carved and a nourishing supper prepared for the kids. It would provide a bit of cushion for all the treats to be consumed later. I looked back in wonder at those years of incredible activity and finally recalled the unbelievable quiet that descended when it was all over. I concluded the piece by writing, "Halloween is a different, stirring, mysterious time. May it ever continue to be so."
But, as seems to happen way too often, ubiquitous commercialism took over. Greeting cards, lights, disgusting spiders complete with entangling webs, and scads of other stuff, were to be had if you were ready to buy ! I became totally disgruntled with the whole business.
Now, however, I am delighted to tell you that the enchantment is back. A few years ago I discovered the Hoeflings' Pumpkin Patch on Hwy.C-38, twelve miles straight west of Cherokee where it intersects Hwy. L-36. Al, Geralyn and their kids put so much time, energy and effort into planning and planting this great place. There is, of course, the huge pumpkin patch, to say nothing of all the gourds, variety corns, etc. they raise for visitors to purchase. Not a single plastic item anywhere on the premises! Most incredible of all, is the creation of the "amazing maze". The whole site has just the proper aura -- dim lighting, sounds muted in the vast open-air setting, rustic benches or hay bales for seating... it is perfect!
The Pumpkin Patch opens this year on Saturday, Oct.1. The hours are noon til dusk on Saturdays and Sundays, and from 5 p.m. til dusk on Fridays. Take your children or grandchildren. If you have neither, go on your own. It is delightfully appealing to "kids" of all ages, one to 91. Don't miss it !
P.S. I am certainly planning to go down there again this year. Actually, I keep hoping to finally catch a glimpse of that broom-mounted witch, silhouetted against the moon. The ancient "haunted house" just east of their location would make a perfect backdrop!