A Desert Halloween

[hist whist]

By E. E. Cummings

hist      whist
little ghostthings
little twitchy
witches and tingling
hob-a-nob     hob-a-nob
little hoppy happy
toad in tweeds
little itchy mousies
with scuttling
eyes    rustle and run     and
whisk     look out for the old woman
with the wart on her nose
what she’ll do to yer
nobody knows
for she knows the devil     ooch
the devil     ouch
the devil
ach     the great
We have a little book at home that features that famous EE Cummings poem, “Hist Whist”.  I would read it at Halloween to our two kids when they were little and they still remember that strange poem and the even stranger art work.  It was one of our Halloween traditions.  Along with that there was the annual viewing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and trying to decide what costumes each would wear.  Their most memorable was when Justin dressed as a football referee and Heather dressed as a fairy princess.  Heather swears we always worked harder on Justin’s costume than hers and that she was left to fend for herself.  (That is just not true, Heather.  You did not want to be the football referee and Justin refused to be a fairy princess. We’re sorry but those were the only two costumes we had).  Boy, how we miss those days and how we miss those Halloween’s.
Last year Lisa and I spent most of October in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I cannot think of a better location to spend the fall than in the wooded hills of the Susquehanna Valley of central Pennsylvania.  In contrast, I cannot think of a place more unlike that than where we will spend Halloween this year, the Mohave Desert.

The autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  It seems that most people feel the same way.  Who doesn’t love the cooler temperatures, football season, the changing colors of leaves, sweatshirts and, of course, Halloween?  Where Pennsylvania and our home in Kentucky are perfect places to spend the fall, here in Arizona the weather is very, very nice.  Almost too nice, in fact.  We are still putting on sun screen and swimming in the campground pool and it is nearly November.  If not for the Halloween decorations at the local stores, I would swear it was June.  And that is hard getting use to.

Lisa and I are not complaining – don’t get us wrong.  But as we near our time to leave Kingman and head back to the colder fall temperatures of home – it is almost as if our DNA is telling us something is just not right.  We should not be wearing shorts on October 23rd and the swimsuits and sunscreen should have been packed away two months ago.  I also have this weird desire to go rake something.  My yard in Kentucky is surrounded by enough trees to keep my rake warm until January – but out here – nothing.  I suppose I could move the rock and dirt around a little bit but forget finding any leaves to pile up.  I did see a yellow leaf in the little tree next to our RV the other day.  It seemed so out-of-place.  I just stared at it and waited to see if it would fall.  It may be my only chance this year to see such a sight here in the desert – where trees are a rarity and cool temperatures shocking.  By the way – the little yellow leaf is still hanging on.  I am tempted to climb up and pull it loose and then rake it into a big, black bag.  It would help me get my bearings.

Halloween in Arizona is probably not too unlike other places in America.  Children will certainly go door to door trick or treating and by the looks of things many people dress up, decorate and celebrate the day. And there are plenty of strange desert creatures scurrying about that have been scaring the hell out of Lisa and I since we got here in June. But something just seems amiss here in the desert when it comes to Halloween.  Maybe it’s the warm temperatures, maybe it’s the lack of colorful trees, or maybe it’s something else.

Maybe it’s just not home.

See you soon!

Steve and Lisa


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