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Of harvest moons and bright plastic masks

I can feel the wind scouring my face as a car speeds down a dim country road. The trees are fire and lit with the raucous colors of October, and thrills shoot through my body as we turn a bend and dip rapidly into a hollow, mesmerizing fall, never failing to disappoint.

Autumn, mystical and lovely, settles in-between the greenery of summer and the fragile harshness of winter. Itís a time of balance, the moving of the seasons, caught in a place where dying leaves bring the most vivid spectrums for wondrous view. Pumpkins now nestle on my porch along with piles of leaves that are rapidly falling and turning into devils of wind, swirling around in dizzying splendor.

I make no apologies for my love of autumn and the spooky nature of anything surrounding Halloween. My fondest memories are traipsing through the streets of Berlin Trick-or-Treating, my plastic bucket filled to the brim with candies to savor, the hot plastic of my mask making my face sweat as we breathed heavily in the chill air. I can see each door, lit with a glowing light, awaiting our knock and cries of ďTrick-or-TreatĒ as smiling eyes held out a big bowl for delving into.

Every year Berlin would hold a Halloween parade, and we would gather at the old fire station uptown, milling around in our costumes until we assembled on Main Street. There were hordes of us: ghosts, and witches, and me dressed as a hobo, replete with huge plastic ears. The entire town turned out, and we walked the main thoroughfare, breathing the magically crisp air, taking pride in what we were wearing. We gazed in wonder at our friends, a thrill seeing masks and outfits rendering faces unknowable, a little jolt of shivers that brought the best goosebumps.

The parade ended at Berlin Elementary, where awards were given for best dressed, most creative and several more. Nobody won for participation. They won because they had the best costume. We bobbed for apples from big tin pans, and when the wondrous night was over, spilled our candy on living room floors and gorged until we couldnít eat anymore.

I would be remiss if I didnít say that I miss these events, them having disappeared somewhere as I gained teenage-dom and replaced by fall festivals where nary a plastic vampire tooth could be found, the edgy spookiness having been cleansed and sanitized to the point of being unrecognizable. I mourn its loss.

When my kids were small, we took them to neighboring towns for Trick-or-Treat or held our own parties. I wanted them to know the wild abandon that comes from donning outfits and having the small chill running up your spine as you pass by others, not knowing who it is behind the mask. Itís learning that not everything is scary if you face it head on.

In my teenage years the road between my house and Panther Hollow was a red hot one, come autumn time. Friends would pile in cars, and we would shriek as we passed through the hollow, a bacchanalia to be savored, ending at that certain cemetery high on the hill. How many times we listened for that stone angelís heartbeat are uncountable, our heads pressed together as we listened to the scratchy cassette tape weíd recorded on the jam box. We wished so hard to hear it, to know that something else was out there more than just what surrounded us. An ethereal wish we blew into reality if we listened just hard enough, enough fodder for many nights of spooky retellings.

I was the mom who took carloads of kids for thrill rides through the hollow, who turned off the headlights as we stopped on the bridge and could hear shrieking throughout the car. I kept the traditions alive, and to this day when my kids bring friends home, there is always a trip to Panther Hollow and the Angel Cemetery for them, my kids wanting to share a bit of their childhood, a retelling of thrilling stories and days.

My kids would beg my husband to regale them and their friends with his spooky legends from Mexico, and now those kids who are grown still remember fondly those times sitting around our table or bouncing down a dark, autumn road.

As October winds down, seek out something different. Head to Zoar for a historical and spooky lantern tour. Find a haunted corn maze and let your hair whip wildly as you seek a way out. Let your heart beat fast to remind you that youíre alive. Or maybe, just maybe, get in your car as evening approaches and drive the windy back roads in Holmes County that lead to deep hollows and let your pulse race as you find the beauty in our countryside along with that thrill that still beats inside you. It canít be extinguished, nor should it be.

Published: October 27, 2016
New Article ID: 2016710279972