Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 6, 2011

A very long Halloween.

Here in western Massachusetts, and other parts of the region, there was a strange snowstorm on Oct. 29-30.  A lot of heavy, wet snow came down, bringing down trees and tree limbs and power lines and creating havoc with mass power outages.  Our power was out from Saturday night through sometime on Monday afternoon, not terribly long, and it wasn’t terribly onerous for us either, seeing as we had the wood stove and running water.  Our cell phones couldn’t get a signal and we have no land line, and we had no Internet access, and mostly we were just cozily cooking on the wood stove and reading books (I read The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman).  We fared much better than many others.

One of the effects of the storm was to prolong Halloween into the most drawn out event I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.  On Saturday the 29th, we went to hear “Season of the Witch” stories at Owl and Raven (with Lily in her cat costume).  On Monday the 31st, despite Halloween being officially postponed by the city of Northampton and many surrounding towns, we had trick-or-treaters come to our door nevertheless (and we were prepared with candles in the jack-o-lanterns and candy to hand out).  On Friday Nov. 4th we went to a rescheduled Halloween party in Shutesbury (again with Lily in her cat costume), complete with pumpkin bowling and eating homemade donuts off of strings without using hands.  And on Saturday Nov. 5th we attended our first Rag Shag Parade in Florence with our little kitty Lily.

Photo courtesy of the ever-delightful Julie Meyer, who we had the good fortune of running into at the event.

The Rag Shag Parade was very well-attended.  It was quite overwhelming, in fact.  Lily was transfixed.  I was fighting the urge to flee the crowd.  I tend to have panic attacks in very crowded situations.  But we marched along with the parade for a while, then took an abrupt detour to walk home and fell upon the lamb shanks I had braised.  Then the trick-or-treating began in earnest at our door.  We ran out of candy quickly, and had to blow out the jack-o-lantern candles and turn off the porch light to keep the sugar-craving ghouls from ringing the doorbell in vain.


Halloween was greatly prolonged this year.  They say that this is the time when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest, at this time halfway between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice.  I’ve been reflecting on my ancestors, their lives, what they might have hoped for their descendants, what recognition and memories they might wish from us, what sort of talisman or comfort they could offer to help guide us in these darkening times.  I’ve been feeling their presence very powerfully, through vivid memories of those I knew in life, as well as an inexplicable sense of connection to those who died long before I was born.

I am slowly gaining clarity on the most recent chapter of my life (approximately the past seven years) and realizing that this autumn has truly been the beginning of a new chapter.  Much of this new chapter so far has involved a lot of Stepping Back: getting space from all that transpired in cohousing, stepping back from the frenetic intensity of my involvement in Grow Food Northampton, shedding the constant work of marketing and selling and seeking and buying homes, setting limits on what I will commit to.  My body and spirit have insisted on this, vehemently pointing out that exhaustion and anxiety had built up to toxic levels.  My gut sense is that what I most need, and what my family most needs from me, is deep grounding, literal grounding.  I must be immersed in this landscape, with Lily and Tom.  I must focus on our home, the land, the forest, in a direct, unmediated way.  It must be tactile.  It must involve long periods of quiet listening.  It must not be rushed.  There are many haphazardly-bandaged wounds that need to be fully healed.  This is a process that cannot be managed through intellect.  It takes a great deal of effort for me to allow this to unfold.

My anxiety also rears up on its hind legs, demanding action from my prefrontal cortex, due to the global drama currently unfolding in the financial world.  My family is more prepared than most for systemic shocks, but it’s still unnerving and I still feel inadequately prepared.  This agitation doesn’t help me manage the internal imperative to rest, heal, and become deeply grounded.

Time for some more lavender-chamomile tea.



  1. Good work, my dear. Shedding and letting go and grounding and gaining clarity. You guys look sweet and whole and grounded in that photo. Nice to hear your voice, as you allow it to unfold… Peace. Tim

  2. Jen, I love this. It’s perfect for the season, and speaks to me, too.

  3. Does this mean you’re not coming to the PVGrows Higher Ed Working Group event, “Fast Talk About Food: Lightning Talks and Networking?” Seriously, your plan for wholeness sounds right on. Rest up…

  4. I miss you, Tim.

    Meg, you’re back and I must see you!

    Madeleine, thank you for making me laugh. (And you know I wholeheartedly support the PVGrows Higher Ed Working Group!)

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