Voices of October By Paul Counelis

“The air resounds with tuneful notes
From myriads of straining throats, All hailing Folly Queen;
So join the swelling choral throng, Forget your sorrow and your wrong,
In one glad hour of joyous song To honor Hallowe'en!”         
                             -John Kendrick Bangs

The earliest memories I have of Halloween are of an exotic night air; children giggling as they sang their Trick ‘r Treat song, an electricity seeping out of the evening and filling us all with a sense of excitement and promise. What a strange night, too, born of a different era’s mixed up traditions and vintage, charmed, stark imagery. I remember taking it all in.

The smell of the treat bag, the different costumes marched around in the most unorganized masked parade up and down the entire street, the squeals and startled laughter emanating from the decorated porches and ghoulishly attired yards. The ever-present wind, just chilly enough to remind that a new season would soon begin, but for now, the orange/yellow moon staking its mysterious claim on the current harvest season.

I remember talk of the Halloween parade at Civic Park Elementary, in the morning. Kids were scrambling to prepare for the walk around the school, which suddenly seemed like the most important thing in the world as I ran home, costume free, at lunchtime.

In twenty minutes or so, as I ate a peanut butter sandwich, my mother whipped me up a pretty snazzy pirate costume and I ran proudly back to that school. For many years after that, we didn’t celebrate Halloween. We still did fun things around the same time; a treasure chest of hidden candy and clues given to navigate.

But I remember the exact night when I realized that sometimes Halloween night felt different, that it wasn’t just a manufactured date.

I was probably 15 years old. I was standing in the middle of the road, poised between my house and my grandparents’ house. I stopped and listened to the wind as it whistled ancient tales through the gnarled, old trees. I smelled the summoned leaves, newly fallen and randomly assembled all around. I heard the joyful laughter from the children. And I felt as if that night were somehow different than any other night of the year, and not just because you could walk to someone’s house, say the magic words, and get free candy. Something more.

That electricity. That feeling of anything just waiting to happen.

I love the Halloween season. I love the images, and the sights, and the smells, and the sounds. The little boy aspect of me rejoices at all the monsters popping up in unusual places, like an animatronic creature in the middle of what used to be just a plain, old grocery store. Or orange and purple lights highlighting the ghouls and goblins on what was once just a random, vanilla suburb lawn. Or even the simple cartoon art on a candy display. It’s not just commerce, it’s a sign of the season. The season where creativity is outwardly apparent, and openly encouraged. It ushers in the thoughts of the hayrides through the woods to the sprawling pumpkin patch, where children choose their favorite pumpkins off of the vine to take home and decorate. The pleasant, satisfied smiles as they hold their chosen gourds on the ride back through the woods, no doubt deciding what face to embody would be jack o’lanterns with.

The cool, clear nights, sitting snuggly sheltered inside with apple cider and donuts and Halloween specials on television (even TV takes a break from the mundane to present more colorful, spooky programming).

And the best thing happens on Halloween night.

Something special…something unique. Every year without fail, just like before in those stirring memories. You can walk outside, stand amidst the mirthful conviviality of the gathered and amid the howling winds of autumn, look around at the sights of the festive evenfall, and listen to the wayward sounds of the season.

And you can hear the children. Playing, yelling, laughing.

About the Author:

Paul Counelis is a freelance writer from Michigan. He writes for many publications including Rue Morgue magazine, Flint Comix and Entertainment, and Michigan's Halloween paper Fear Finder

He is the author of over 40 books and the editor-in-chief of Halloween Machine magazine. Paul is also a singer/songwriter in the horror band Lords of October. 

He and wife Crystal run a free haunt, "Scarriage Town", from their house every Halloween with their friends, relatives, and their nine kids.

A member of the Flint Horror Collective, Paul can be heard every two weeks on the podcast The Ghoul Cast and helps to organize horror events and conventions in Michigan.

Purchase Paul's Books on Lulu

Visit His Author Page on Facebook

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1 comment:

  1. Love this. Indeed, there is something truly magical about this season and holiday. Nothing else gives me such sensory memories. Well written!