Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Memento Mori et Tempestae

Good heavens. We’ve lost one of our tombstones.

Every year here in Our Little Town we get one major windstorm that picks up everything on the ground and deposits it a block or two over. I don’t remember the last time I raked my own leaves, for example.

Today is that day.

It started last night, in fact. When the winds blow the rain against my windows hard enough to wake me up, you know those are serious winds.

Right now it’s raining sideways and anything that isn’t nailed down is sailing off toward Canada. While I have understood and sympathized with that impulse a fair amount since 2001, I have to say that there are probably less disruptive ways to achieve this goal.

Halloween is Lauren’s favorite time of year, in no small part because it is her birthday and she is at the age when birthdays are Big Events not to be trifled with. I think she appreciates the fact that everyone else gets to celebrate on her birthday. She certainly intends to, so why shouldn't you? So all month long we have been slowly gearing up for it – hanging a strand or two of paper pumpkins around the living room, plugging in some electric pumpkins here and there, and setting out the lawn decorations.

We don’t have nearly the lawn decorations that some people do in this town. This is a blue-collar town, and one thing that historians know is that festivals have historically belonged to the lower orders of society – it’s how they break up the work load of the year and, often, how they exact enough symbolic revenge on the upper orders to get them through the year without gutting them. And in this factory town, you can find a whole lot of seriously decorated houses.

Around the corner from us, for example, is a house that every year gets decorated from top to bottom in ghosts, ghouls, vampires, cobwebs, lights, pumpkins, and just about anything else you can imagine that can be made out of black or orange plastic. It’s impressive, in a “where do these people find that kind of time?” kind of way.

They do a mean Christmas display, too.

We’re not that deeply committed, but Lauren does insist that we do something at least to mark the holiday. So we have a ghost on a bamboo pole that we plant in the bushes, two other smaller ghosts on metal posts that go in some other bushes, a few masks that we hang up on the porch, and this year we added three foam tombstones for the lawn.

We’ve still got two of them.

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