Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spooky New England

Halloween is one week away. What does that mean to you? Well, as a mom of 10 (mostly young) children, it means excitement. Our kids have been talking about trick-or-treating for weeks now. I think the minute school starts, it's #1 on their mind and I get to hear the count-down every day. (Oh, joy!) Of course, the minute Halloween is over, I hear about Christmas, even though I am determined to enjoy Thanksgiving first, thank-you-very-much!

In spite of my homeschooling, rural environment, I have have to admit that I do not make home-made costumes. In fact, I don't make home-made anything-you-can-wear. Sewing is not a talent I was afforded. But we have still have fun throwing things together (thanks to the local thrift stores.)

Oddly, Halloween is not a much celebrated holiday around here. It's even tough to find neighborhoods for trick-or-treat. When you think about the history of Halloween and New England's connection, it seems a little odd -- or maybe it makes complete sense.

New England is a little creepy. It really is. It's old. Other than Jamestown and St. Augustine, it is the oldest, settled part of the country and that means a lot of history -- and a lot of ghosts. At least that's what they tell me and it's easy to believe if you venture out after dark. Most of northern New England is forest. NH is 95% forest and the rate is probably higher in VT and ME. That's a lot of forest considering how small these states are. As a result, it's easy to get lost here. People do it every year. They come up from the big cities, venture into the woods, and never come out again (alive.) Creepy. The rocky, foggy coast is spooky, too. This is why scary books and movies are set here.

So, our towns are in the middle of a vast forest. Few venture out at night. Street-lights are rare. People don't even turn on their porch lights! In the midst of these small towns are old cemeteries. Really old ones. There is one just a block down the road from me. (see photo above.) It's "in town", but I wouldn't want to walk through that thing at night. It's creepy enough during the day. It's depressing, too. A lot of those stones mark the graves of dead children, a common tragedy in days of old. Graves from the 1700's and those of Civil War soldiers are not uncommon either. And they have those big creepy stones. No wonder people are convinced there are ghosts about. Around here, you can even go on "ghost tours."

If spooky graveyards don't disturb you enough, there are "haunted houses." Not the kind where people go in with costumes and buzz saws -- I mean real haunted houses. Big, ole, abandoned Victorian mansions with overgrown foliage. The kind that kids dare each other to approach. When the leaves are blowing around, the moon is full, and bats are aloft, those things can be great fodder for the imagination.

Of course, there is spooky history here, too. Salem and Lizzie Borden, for example. You can read a lot more about that in the following books (click image to purchase):

So, many New Englanders, especially here in the northern parts, avoid Halloween. I can only think of a hand-full of friends who will even allow their children to trick-or-treat. The Puritan heritage is still strong here.

We are OK with it, though. We just avoid the spooky costumes and graveyards. (Fun or scary house set-ups are a rare sight around here, but you might find a "Harvest" or "Reformation" Party about.) We just go to one of the few accommodating neighborhoods in order to collect treats and high-tail it back to the safety of home and hearth.

Have fun and watch out for "ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night . . . "


Dauphyfan said...

This graveyard evokes images of spectors and you wonder when Betelguise will wake up. Very creepy indeed!