It’s Halloween! Don’t miss pleasures of the day and season:
Poems: Edgar Allan Poe, “Ulalume”; James Whitcomb Riley, “Little Orphant Annie” May Swenson, “A Nosty Fright”
Ghost Stories: M.R. James, “Casting the Runes” and “‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad'”; Oliver Onions, “The Beckoning Fair One”
And read Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” not only for the Headless Horseman but also for the wonderful flat characters and the descriptions of autumn and the feast.
Music: Berlioz, “Symphonie Fantastique” and Saint-Saens, “Danse Macabre”
Movie: “The Curse of the Demon” (based on “Casting the Runes,” above.
Yesterday. A new refrigerator arrived. Welcome, Raquel! Gone is the noisy, inefficient, leaky appliance that came with the house.
A creature. Working in the back yard one Indian summer afternoon last week, I decided it was time to dump a large garbage pail of stagnant water. I moved it to the patio with aim to dump it out after Max and I finished mowing. When I took a break from mowing, I looked into the pail and saw a creature I had never seen. It looked to be a cross between a fish and a worm. It had a split tail, several short appendages along its body, a round head, and two projecting things that looked like a mouth or lips. It could contract and expand itself, and it writhed around in the water. It looked like something from the Halloween Express. When I finished mowing, I called the local high school. A biology teacher, who was on planning at the time, said she would be glad to see it. I did not have a net, so I took a small glass to dip it up. It dodged the attempt and sank down low. I waited for it to emerge, which it did a couple of times, but I was not successful in a capture. I went to the school and drew it on an index card. The biology teacher said that she couldn’t imagine what it might be. When I arrived home and looked into the pail, I saw two others near the surface. I was successful in capturing one, and when I took it to school, one teacher, passing through the office, said he thought it was a horsefly larva. But two biology teachers thought it too big. They kept the creature and said that if they could identify it, they’d call me. I suggested that for a Halloween treat they could have students draw it and write a monster story about it. One of the teachers said that the girls would just go, “OOOOO!” and the boys would start boasting that for a dollar they would eat it.
I put up two bird feeders, and I’ll feed until the grackles return next spring. I’m feeding squirrels further down the back yard. I like to watch squirrels and crows forage together in my yard. They don’t bother one another. I admire the agility of the squirrels and the clean low sweep of the flight of the crows.
Saturday, in Greensboro. A poet, a friend, read poems set in the Appalachians. His daughter, a friend, sang Appalachian ballads. After the performance we leave to go to eat Japanese food. Across the street is a Halloween carnival in a church parking lot. One small child is dressed as a Dalmatian puppy. Children throw rings made of straw onto the point of a black hat, a witch’s. Children march around a marked area, hoping to land on a winning number when the violinist witch stops playing. There are hot dogs and funnel cakes and occasional light winds which blow colored leaves around. There is an old oak with rich brown an dark orange leaves.
My collection of quotations from my year of reading, A Fifth Book of Days, is almost completed for holiday giving. Now to alphabetize the subject index, type it, and type the list of works read, and take it to the printers.
“Now the leaves are falling fast.” And most are full-colored. The leaves on the pear tree are just beginning to turn. Those which have are a rich and warm reddish wine color.
Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River, Book II (so far): the protagnoist arrives in Boston; his meeting with the assistant of the drama professor, mutual attraction and repulsion; portrait of Uncle Bascom Pentland, real estate agent and attorney; brilliant portrait of Mr. Brill (“. . . he could not more have spoken without swearing than a whale could swim in a frog pond.”); portrait of play writing students (“false, trivial, glib, dishonest, empty, without substance, lacking in faith–it is any wonder that among Professor Hatcher’s young men few birds sang?”); Uncle Bascomb’s misogynistic diatribe; reflection on old people, their lack of passion, feeling; snapshot descriptions of people on the streets of Boston, of the family owning the house where the protagonist rents a room, of the fellow Chinese renter; catalogues of scenes of American life and places in all seasons. Good reading, yes.
Thank you for reading. I hope your week was good and that this coming week of the first of November will bring good experiences.