My Dad is going to be a Duck!

The last day of October was a fine one, but I wasn’t yet feeling it. I took myself out to the front-yard with a book and cup of coffee to see what could be done about it. 

It was around the fifth sip that I heard a little voice pipe up, “My father is going to be a duck!”

I grinned. How marvelous to see adults transform into ducks?!

I laughed in spite of myself, and had a short, sweet conversation with the dinosaur wanna-be, born to a duck wanna-be. Life, that hitherto felt dull, suddenly seemed full of possibility. Oh Sweet Halloween!

The children had decorated the front yard and the door step sweetly enough, but I yearned to look at the passionate decorators and what all they had in store for us that evening. One house has pumpkins carved every few feet, another had cobwebs and ghosts flapping and wailing through the cold days. The evening saunter would reveal the true artists, and though I did not know it then, I was in for a real treat that evening.

Very soon, the human stomach beckoned, and I headed into the kitchen to whip up another meal. Really! Why could human beings not be camels or tardigrades?! Why must we be slaves to our stomachs, and have these enticing appetites every few hours? It is all most trying for someone who does not enjoy cooking every meal of every day very much. (Tardigrades can apparently go for 30 years without food!)

Why could we not be like pelicans? When hungry, we could start dipping and dancing for our food, and then idly pedal around in the bays, and lakes. Wouldn’t that be marvelous?

A few hours later, after the never ending jobs of cooking, eating, and cleaning were done, the husband & I set off on a bike ride. The afternoon was slightly windy, and the clouds had scattered beautifully across the skies. As we pedaled rhythmically, my high strung sensibilities started to calm somewhat, but I still felt unmoored.

We stopped to take a break and where usually, I raved about the beauty of the world around us, I sat mute. The husband glanced at me somewhat surprised. It took a few minutes for nature to work its magic. But it did. There was a man who had his dogs on a long leash with him, and they kept trying to go in for a swim in the lake. It made a lovely diversion to watch them splash into the water, and then out again, in again, and out again. The tiny sparkles in the water, with the fall colors of the flora around the lake, slowly but surely raised the spirits.

Dogs swimming in the distance

As we pedaled back, I thought idly how lucky the ducks were. They had no idea that it was Halloween, and I am sure none of them wanted to dress up as human beings, but we wanted a little bit of magic and wanted to dress as ducks. That is as it should be.

That evening, I was an artist on the streets with ducks, dinosaurs, aliens, princesses, ninjas and superheroes.

The family that dressed as a volcano, ash cloud and tornado had my respect.

The house that scared me was the one where I inadvertently stepped on something and a large Aragog-like spider sprang up from the lawns nearby. Sometimes, our imaginations do go too far, but how lovely it is to have it and exercise it on Halloween?!

“Where there is no imagination there is no horror.” Arthur Conan Doyle

 

Once in a Blue Orange Moon

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. In sunny California it is the time fall weather finally starts to settle in. I pick out pumpkins to set by the door. Most years, my carving takes a back seat, and I settle for painting or sticking outsize eyes and a mouth on it instead.

But we decorate the house – bats and owls stickers fly around avoiding the fake spider webs. Hasty orange construction paper is stuck around the outside light, and all things orange are ready to be displayed for one whole evening.

I remember a few years ago on an evening walk after a vigorous trick-or-treating, I felt a thrill and stood there mesmerized for a moment as an owl flew against the moonlight. I know Zen and Buddhist teachers tell us to enjoy the significance of every moment. I am not sure about every moment but a few moments do  lodge themselves in a magical spot. The owl flying across the moon was one such. I remember standing there bathed in the magic of it all. The owl of course is a visceral being, and was after its prey – nothing more nothing less. Halloween was an affair that was of no consequence to it. 

The blue moon will shine its benign light on us on Halloween. The trick-or-treaters will be thin on the ground, of course, because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and I should think bats will not be getting that warm a reception with humanity this year! 

The son got himself a costume that has a mask with an air filter on it keeping with the grim theme the world is cloaked in. “Hint!” I said holding up my hand in a V with two fingers on either side to those who tried to guess what it was on the video camera. The son shook his head disappointed and said, “Your hint is from Star Trek! My costume is from Star Wars!” Ahh well.

The son wore his Halloween costume to class today. This would have to be the poor substitute for the marvelous parade they usually get to attend on Halloween, but he dressed up with gusto . I was excited to see his classmates dressed up too: their tiny passport sized icons on the screen showing me the heads of princesses and pirates would have to do.  Their teacher was kind enough to let me read my book, Halloween in the Jungle, to them. Reading the books to the children is by far one of the best experiences I have had. Their reception to the story, their thoughtful questions thereafter, and their wholehearted enjoyment of the simple story is more than enough for me. Why? Oh why do we lose that marvelous feeling of youth as we grow older?

halloween_ij_fm

Tango Tiger, Janny Rat, Boy Elephant, Biso Bison, Spotty Rat and all their delightful pals are heading into their 7th year celebrating Halloween in the Jungle. The Halloween in the Jungle book has since given me immense joy. 

But this time, I feel a special bond to the little tykes as they revel in the clearing by Luda Lake, eating pumpkin pies, drinking orange and persimmon juice, and dancing to the lovely sounds of the musical orchestra with Nighty Nightingale, Owl, Bat and Frog. You see this time, just like the illustrations show, there will be a marvelous full moon night to light up Halloween. 

halloween_ij_fm_page

Blue moons are not as rare as we think, for they come around every 2-3 years. But apparently, this is the first time since World War II that a full moon visible from everywhere in the US coincided with Halloween. I am not one to set much store by signs, but if after the 1944 Halloween full moon, we were able to set the world to rights, surely a Halloween full moon and a blue moon at that should work miracles.

Happy Halloween!