May All Your Halloweens Be Brown

Where we live, it’s not a question of whether Christmas will be white, but whether Halloween will be Halloweeny.

Except for ghosts and cobwebs, you can’t have white on Halloween. Duh.

This:

Halloween 2016

Slide show (5 photos)

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“The bushes, ablaze with leaves of orange-black, lined the walkways to each front door. ” (Acreage Brew)

Not this:

Morning of Halloween 2017, 8:54 a.m.

“Completely dark out at 8:00 a.m. and snowing. Sunrise 8:31.”
(My Facebook post on Halloween morning.)

ACREAGE BREW
Excerpt: Chapter 13, Beyond the Precipice

Bret waded through several inches of fallen leaves in his parking stall, smiling as they crunched under his feet, and loaded his violin into the back seat of his car. The weather continued with its uncanny warmth, feeling like summer but for the pervasive smell of dry leaves. He didn’t bother to brush them from his windshield, just used his wipers and grinned as they blew off when he drove. Yellow leaves littered both sides of the narrow residential streets, leaving a clear swath of pavement only down their centre.

The [Strathcona] farmers’ market’s south face opened wide to the slanting sun in a rich blue sky. More buskers than he had ever seen were about, spread down the block along 83rd Avenue’s red-brick sidewalk, playing mandolin and guitar. He sat on the low wall of a tree planter, watching the performers and spectators, noting how the leaves caught in the grooves of the interlaid bricks, breathing in the smoky smell of hot dogs and popcorn, and took notes as ideas for new tunes seized him.

When it was time to go, a blizzard of leaves blew into his car.

. . .

[Nicole] sighed as she looked out over [the lake]. “The weather is beautiful, isn’t it?”

It could have been summer except for the brown grass, low sun, and orange lawn bags (too many to count) resting against the wall with a rake laid across them.

[Bret] nodded. “We’ll pay.”

Several V-formations of Canada Geese passed overhead, honking.

“It’s already supposed to start cooling off tomorrow.” She shielded her eyes as she watched the birds fly until they disappeared behind the yellowing birches. “Maybe we should go for a walk. Enjoy this while we can.” She packed up her music. “I can’t believe Halloween is just over two weeks away.”

“As long as there’s no snow until afterward, I’m good with that.”

“It would be nice if it wasn’t really cold.”

“I meant the colours,” he said. “You can’t have white on Halloween.”

It ruined everything, of course. Halloween had to stay black and orange and dead-brown. Branches clawing at a black sky while the wind whipped old leaves around. Jack-o’-lanterns lurking on porches, their flames flickering, distorting shadows of ragged bodies slung from trees. Red and orange leaves, desperately clinging to bushes, blazing the trail of an impenetrable night—

No white allowed! White is for Christmas. Other than ghosts, white disrupts the mood of Halloween. So, even a decent Halloween with snow left on the ground from a recent snowfall is disappointing.

Snow and cold make Halloween night unpleasant (too cold) and even dangerous (slippery) for little trick-or-treaters. Costumes are ruined by thick, winter clothes.

When my kids were small, I used to have two sets of costumes for each child: one for school parades and parties, and one to fit over their snow gear on Halloween night. Let’s face it, malls are no fun (although at least twice we gratefully resorted to them). They lack the atmosphere of dark streets, spooky bare branches, crunchy leaves, and eerie jack-o’-lanterns. There is far too much light and, let’s be honest, the loot is nowhere near as good.

One day early

Halloween forecast 2017. We hit nowhere near 7°C. (Credit: Weather Office app.)

Winter arrived one day early for our liking. Furthermore, Edmonton, in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains, almost never sees 100% precipitation forecasts. A local radio station told listeners to give those poor little munchkins double handfuls of treats, with that possible freezing rain, snow, rain, and winds up to 50 km/h.

“Coldest air of the season rushing into Alberta, snow expected. Timing here” (forecast headline of The Weather Network for Oct. 31).

Ironically, these were the temperatures just one to three days ago:

  • Saturday, October 28: +19°C (66°F), sunny –> cloudy (Time and Date, October 2017)
  • Monday, October 30: +6°C (43°F), cloudy, dry (The Weather Network)
  • Tuesday, October 31 (Halloween):  +3°C (37°F), snow/rain, windy (The Weather Network)

Typically, the weather can be fantastic until just before Halloween, and then wham! The temperature drops suddenly, and there could be rain, snow, or a wet mixture, often accompanied by wind. A good Halloween is a real game of chance.

But … the high will be -9°C (16°F) in two days (November 2) — a good ten Celsius degrees colder than the day of Halloween.

So, how did Halloween 2017 turn out?

Surprisingly well!

We did not hit anywhere near 7°C for our high. It hovered barely above freezing for most of the day, then warmed up to about 4°C (39°F) in our area after 3:00 p.m., melting some of the snow and reducing the water and slush on the sidewalks in the nick of time for 5:30 trick-or-treating with the grandchildren, ages two and five. (Sunset 6:03 p.m. MDT.)

Dark clouds raced overhead, but incredibly, the wind and precipitation held off until close to 7:45 p.m., when trick-or-treating was winding down or done for most people on a damp, chilly night like this.

The two-year-old lasted an hour, and the five-year-old put in about 90 minutes, carrying on with uncle and auntie. Shorter than last year, but they did well with area covered and loot hauled, and all of it was outside in the neighbourhood.

However, it wasn’t quite the same street party as last year as what we saw last year, when the warm, dry weather brought crowds of people outdoors. Were many of them in the malls this year after dealing with the snow on the ground for most of the day?

As Halloween night drew to a close, wet snow came down once more. The timing didn’t turn out quite so bad, after all.

Slide show: our Halloween 2017 evening

(10 photos)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

HALLOWEEN HAIKU

I.

Deep orange lanterns,
Shrinking candles marking time,
Black claws tear at life.

II.

Lanterns in the night
Unveiling truth in shadows;
Floating souls of light.

III.

Long-deserted lanes,
Dead souls move when life is still.
Living sleep. Dead walk.

October 31, 2017
Found in Haiku Collection

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction and fantasy, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning difficulties and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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