Human for Halloween ~ and Beyond


This much is certain: choosing to forego modern ways of connecting to the world has consequences. Over the course of three weeks, with no television, radio, newspapers, or social media to keep me informed, I became blissfully unaware of a good bit: the start of baseball’s World Series; the long-term forecast; the latest roiling of the political waters; the inevitable celebrity scandals.

Not only did I begin forgetting the date, with sunrise and sunset serving as my only markers for the days, the realization that it soon would be time to reset the clocks came as a bit of a shock. 

On the other hand, it was hard to forget Halloween. Across five states, reminders were everywhere. Farm and ranch gates sported hay-bale-and-pumpkin art, with an occasional straw-stuffed scarecrow thrown in for good measure. Bedsheet ghosts in trees, skeletons huddled on front porches, pumpkin patches in churchyards, and billboards advertising The World’s Scariest Haunted House! made clear that Halloween would not be denied.  

I hadn’t been home more than a few hours before Halloween made an appearance on my own doorstep, in the form of an acquaintance asking if I knew about a local Halloween party. After I explained that I’d been traveling and didn’t know, she assured me it would be an awesome party, with fabulous prizes for creative and original costumes.

“Really?” I said.”Have you decided on a costume?” “I saw someone dressed as a taco on Pinterest,” she said. “I thought that was pretty cool, but I haven’t figured out how to keep the lettuce and tomato attached.” I couldn’t help laughing. “Well, I hope you figure it out. Beyond a glue gun, I’m not sure how you’d manage.” “I know,” she said. “I may just go as a Kardashian. That’s easy.” 

While I pondered what it would take to transform either of us into a Kardashian, she surprised me with another question. “If you go, what costume would you wear?” A Halloween costume had been the last thing on my mind, but as I began to give it some thought, I knew what my answer would be.

I recalled Gene, bison-wrangler extraordinaire at Kansas’s Tallgrass Prairie, whose willingness to put himself out for a stranger gave me a remarkable experience and some memorable (if shaky) photos.

Getting Buffaloed at the Tallgrass Prairie

I remembered Arkansas innkeepers John and Jolynn Vacca, who bring their guests together every morning for conversation over breakfast: forging ephemeral but quite real communities among travelers from widely varied backgrounds.

Janssen Park Place B&B ~ Mena, Arkansas

I admired again the dedication and creativity of Damon and Jana Helton, whose Farm at Barefoot Bend in Lonsdale, Arkansas provides pastured poultry, grass-fed beef, and produce for the community through their newly-established Olde Crow General Store: the same store that provided me with some tasty, homemade pralines for the road.

Right next to the Crows Station Fire Department ~ Lonsdale, Arkansas

I recalled Bill and Julia McBride, whose commitment to history made possible Matfield Station, my lodging at the edge of the Flint Hills, and whose commitment to art has enlivened their community.

Matfield Station renovated bunkhouse ~ Matfield Green, Kansas

And I thought of the nameless ones who graced my journey through their states: the hunter who took time to ensure I donned an orange vest;

Pond Creek wildlife management area ~ along the Cossatot river in Arkansas

the volunteers struggling to promote knowledge through their small, rural library;

Pomona Public Library ~ Pomona, Kansas

and the sign-maker whose delightful humor was so typical of the people I met in every state. (Matfield Green, population 47, or 46, or 50, may have more than five streets, but I’m sure there aren’t more than seven or eight, and there certainly aren’t five exits.)

Matfield Green, Kansas, where irony abounds

In short, the fog-shrouded mountains were beautiful; the subtleties of the prairies remarkable; the geology of the west impressive, and the dense, tangled forests mysterious. Still, in the end, it was the people I most loved. 

With such memories in mind, I turned to my neighborhood party-goer, who seemed to be waiting for an answer. “I probably won’t go to the party,” I said, “but if I do, I might have an idea for a costume. Instead of going as a ghoulie or ghostie, or even as a taco — I think I’ll go as a human being.”

Comments always are welcome.

101 thoughts on “Human for Halloween ~ and Beyond

    1. And, now that I think about it, not so far from the admonition to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Funny, how different that kind of humanity looks when compared to some models abroad in the land.

  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful, relaxing time. If those were some of the photos you brought home with you, you had my kind of travel experience. My husband and I loved the back roads of America, meeting ordinary people.

    1. They certainly are photos from the trip. I made good use of Point A to Point B freeways and interstates to begin and end my travels, but in between, it was mostly two-lanes, gravel, and dirt. It’s a darned good thing there hadn’t been much rain, or I couldn’t have reached a few of the places I especially wanted to visit.

      And it was relaxing. In the middle of the three-week period, I settled into Matfield Station for five days and used it as a home base. Not having to schlep bags around, and being able to cook, was great: not to mention having some time to process what I’d already seen.

  2. Halloween rings a loud bell here in Australia as well. It seems not long ago we took our grand- kids to the properties that had the balloons fastened on their front gates indicating they would be giving the lollies out. ‘Shepherd Street in Bowral,’ was known as ‘a good lollies street.

    Australia’s following of Halloween is fairly recent. I can’t remember it was around when I was young. I don’t think it was a cultural event in Holland. Perhaps today it is?

    Of course, the grand-kids are teenagers now and would scoff at the idea of going around with swords and macabre outfits to celebrate Halloween.

    1. When I was a kid, we never thought about which neighborhoods were “good” and which weren’t. We simply did our trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, and accepted what came our way. When I moved to Houston, it was rather different, with occasional carloads of teens showing up in “good” neighborhoods to collect the loot. I like the balloons. Here, the custom used to be that you turned on your porch light if you were participating in the festivities.

      It’s been rather odd to see Halloween turn into much more of an adult holiday here. It makes sense that bars would throw parties and costume contests, but it seems to have seeped into corporate life, too. It seems strange to me that the holiday would be regulated within an inch of its life for children and even college students, but not for “adults” at work.

    1. Now and then, I hear a reference to someone who’s comfortable in their own skin. I think it’s essentially the same concept, and I agree with you — it is a very comfortable outfit.

  3. Brilliant. If I were creating a costume, I would also be a human, or at least an animal. Little children dressed as animals are cute… but it took me a long time to realize from her photo that one girl I know was in a “costume” – I couldn’t figure out why she was standing in a replica of a jar of Nutella.

    Welcome home! The stories of your human connections are inspiring.

    1. I just did an image search for ‘Nutella halloween costume.’ My gracious. There are a lot of Nutella lovers out there. Apparently disguising yourself as a brand is ‘in’ these days. There also were Oreos, Starbucks frappés, Apple iPhones, and the ever-popular Oscar Mayer weenie. I wonder if anyone has done a study of changes in Halloween costumes over time. Probably so.

      I did meet some interesting people on this trip, including a fellow who works at a high-end hotel in Eureka Springs. When I asked why he was in Malvern, he said he’d just wanted to get out of Eureka Springs for a while. Once I arrived there, I understood the impulse. It was a bit too frenetic for my taste. On the other hand, I did see white squirrels there, which pleased me no end.

  4. Lovely images giving a hint of the stories to come. As for costumes, hmm… I think going as a human is fine – after all, I believe that’s our disguise anyway :-)

    1. It’s hard to sort out so many experiences, so just a few hints was a good way for me to begin, too, eremophila.

      As for our humanity, something occurred to me just today. We often talk about human beings, but we rarely talk about humans, being. There is a difference, and the people I met were interesting because of their different ways of being. Lots to ponder!

  5. The sign with five exits tickled my fancy, Linda, and the knowledge that there are still people out there with a sense of humor. In fact I kind of like it as a costume, as in, she wore nothing but a sense of humor to the party. And I am trying to picture what it might look like. :) –Curt

    1. Hmmm… Wearing nothing but a sense of humor to a party is suspiciously close to wearing nothing but a smile. It could be interesting, for sure.

      By the way: I looked on the back of those “Scenic Vista” and “Historic Site” signs I brought back, and there is information about the website, how it works, etc. I’ll get that posted eventually. It would be fun to take part. I picked up a few, so once I post about it, if you’re interested, I could send you a set of signs.

    1. You thought I’d miss that, didn’t you? Of course I didn’t — I’m a very deadicated reader. As for the unique take: who needs another pumpkin? Personally, I’m considering a Halloween Ibis for next year. The Raven just might have some competition.

    1. It was an enjoyable trip. What surprised me was the variety of grasses. I know some — Indian grass, the bluestems, and so on — but there were many I didn’t know. Some were quite beautiful. It will be fun sorting them out.

  6. beautiful!

    You mention many events that never reach here.. world series? really? There is no halloween here, gracias a-dios, but the day of the dead is alive and very healthy, as people make their pilgrimages home to honor those who have moved on. Many prepare picnics and go to the cemetery and spend the time with their loved ones – even set a place for the dead and tell what things have happened.. good and not so good. Most likely the event on the earthquake-ravaged coast will have a somber mood….

    Your post reminds me of the many sports and distractions, which are important to many, but I am grateful to live where the focus is on being human! you, lovely friend, captured it with grace!

    The pictorial that recaps your journey was lovely, and your images are just as brilliant as your stories!.

    1. Here, the All Souls’ traditions in the churches parallel the Day of the Dead observances you mentioned. The focus is a little different, as are the forms, but remembering (and communing with) those who have departed still is at the heart of it all. And of course the various Hispanic communities in places like Galveston observe El Dia de Los Muertos. There was a Galveston gallery that showed art related to the tradition this year, but I missed it since I was traveling.

      As for humanity — there are as many ways of being human as there are human beings in the world. That’s good news for us all, and certainly adds to the interest of being in the world!

    1. I’m glad to be home, too. That’s the best kind of trip — when it’s good to leave, and good to come back.

      I’m not sure people are more sensitive to others’ humanity in small towns — sometimes it seems so — but it is a fact that, city or village, sensitivity’s important. We could use more of it.

    1. They were very nice folks, without fail. The only truly obnoxious, loud, disruptive person I met seemed to be about two years old, so I was willing to cut her a little slack. As for the scenery — well. Let’s just say there are some treats to come. I had a hard time photographing in the forests, which were dark to start with, and made even more so by rain, mizzle and drist, but there are a few that capture the feel.

      I always learn something from you: pod-people, this time. I’ve heard of the film for years, of course, but never seen it. The premise it’s based on could explain a few things. I’ve put it on my to-be-watched list, just for grins.

      The weather was iffy-to-depressing in the beginning, since zero visibility fog isn’t great in the mountains. But, it improved, and things weren’t a total loss, even in the fog.

  7. This is an interesting post. My Canadian friends say that Halloween is more commercial than Christmas where they lived. We don’t really do Halloween the same way here in the UK. It lasts just one day and only observed by kids and teens. It used to be more like the Day of the Dead until it died out with Cromwell who thought it was too Pagan.

    It started to come back again in the 1970s after watching American horror movies – it was all about pumpkins which had never been part of our culture. When Walmart took over Asda in the 1980s – suddenly we were bombarded with plastic decorations. Nowadays youngsters combine Halloween with Guy Fawkes night on November 5th and bonfires and apple-dunking and burning of effigies take place over the weekend in between. It was really quiet in my street last night. No-one comes trick or treating in my area and for once no bins were kicked over.

    1. The same’s true here, SOL. Apparently there’s more money spent now on Halloween than on Christmas. My hunch is that’s because adults have taken over the holiday. All of those costumes and decorations cost a whole lot more than a bucket of candy for the kids. When I met my family in Kansas, even our motel was tricked out for Halloween, with a tree, coordinated napkins and decorations in the breakfast area, and decorations on every floor. It was cute, but a little strange.

      That Cromwell: such a party-pooper. Ah, well. That resurgence because of horror films is one thing that was in the back of my mind when I wrote this. I know that being scared to death can be jolly good entertainment, but we don’t have to depend on our movies to scare us these days.

      I learned about Guy Fawkes decades ago, after hearing Peter, Paul, and Mary’s song, “A-Soulin'”. That was one of the first albums I remember buying; it’s still a good one.

      1. A Soulin’ is a song that used to be sung on Halloween in exchange for soul cakes. It was the traditional Celtic New Year’s eve before the Roman’s added July and August to the calendar. They used to carry candle-lights carved out of turnips (that changed to pumpkins in America). No one does ‘penny for the Guy’ any more – I used to enjoy making those – instead they make hay dummies of bad people through the year for the bonfire (usually politicians). It is a bit similar to night of San Juan in Spain.

    1. Oh, of course. I’ve known one or two of the scary sort in my day, and they’re best avoided. But I’m still convinced they’re aberrations, and that most people, at heart, are good.

      Of course we’re all a mixture of good and bad, and the balance can tip from day to day. But I’m a little tired of people who seem willing to toss the whole human race overboard for the sake of whatever seems more important or valuable to them. One of my friends says the nasty ones just need more candy. Who can be mean after eating good chocolate?

      1. Yes, the scary ones are definitely an aberration. And I wonder if anyone has ever researched how many difficulties could be solved by eating more chocolate. Could wars be avoided by increased chocolate consumption?

    1. Now, that’s good. I’ve never seen one those signs, but if I ever do, I’ll surely remember you.

      What I did see on the trip were some Ouachita National Forest signs that said “Leaving” on one side, and “Entering” on the other. In both cases, the words had been painted over to match the sign. I’m not sure why, but I have a photo of the “leaving” side. Now I wish I had one of “entering.”

  8. Being unplugged for three full weeks sounds like a perfect vacation to me! You’ve missed so much of the nastiness of this election, and frankly, the paucity of good shows on TV means you didn’t miss much there.

    I love how you’ve captured the essence of your trip … not an easy thing to do! When one has traveled far and meet so many interesting people and experienced so much good, ’tis a challenge to pen a summary.

    Welcome back, my friend, and I’m looking forward to enjoying whatever you care to share from your travels!

    1. Since I’d already given up television (about three years ago) and haven’t listened to radio, podcasts, or music at work for about a year, it was more a natural extension of things than a decision to go unplugged. But I must say, I heard things in the natural world I haven’t heard for years, or didn’t think possible to hear. I’m still pondering all of that.

      As I’ve gone through photos (delete! delete! delete!) the process has begun to help clarify how to approach some of what I saw. It’s a form of editing, actually — not everything is of equal interest, even to me.
      But there are some things I think you’ll find of interest: including my first “selfie.”

  9. I go to Pioneer Bluffs in Matfield Green each year to teach a workshop. It’s a breath-of-a-town but very much alive. So glad you visited. The prairie, whether down on the Flinthills or up on our farm on the nothern edge, is magical in scope and breadth and breath.

    1. This was my second stay at Matfield Station: longer, and even more enjoyable. I’ve been to Pioneer Bluffs, and have enjoyed some activities there. This time, the “Ride the Flint Hills” motorcycle event led me to the Volland Store — a great new experience. I heard a rumor that there’s going to be a future event celebrating Least Heat-Moon’s “PrairyErth.” If that happens, I surely would like to be there — especially if it takes place in the spring. Two autumns in the Flint Hills have been lovely, but when I saw the remains of what had to be hundreds of thousands — millions? — of gayfeather, I swore I was going to see them in bloom some day.

  10. I did not know you were traveling, Linda.I appreciate you sharing some pictures of places and precious memories of human beings you met. Halloween is not much celebrated over here apart from in the supermarkets… Welcome back, dear Linda.

    1. It was a nice, long trip, Isa. I celebrated my seventieth birthday while traveling, and it seemed the perfect way to do so. I’m neither a pessimist nor a worrier, but it is a fact that the years in which I can take off on long road trips will come to an end. So — it was time to do it. Now that I’m home and back at work, I can sort through these experiences, and begin planning new ones. I have ideas!

  11. Looks like a good trip. My sister-in-law recently traveled to Mena, though she stayed with a friend. Hope the party was fun-for human beings and all others.

    1. It was fascinating in many ways, Tina. Arkansas particularly was awash in butterflies and other insects, and I was pleased to meet some brand new plants.

      I came home with a fistful of bison fur, pulled off the animal by the fellow up above, and got to experience the sight of big burns at the Tallgrass prairie. As for Mena — I found that a friend who lived there wasn’t exaggerating one bit about the shady (and interesting) past of that town. Did you know that there’s a movie in the works, starring Tom Hanks?

  12. “Here, the custom used to be that you turned on your porch light if you were participating in the festivities…..”

    It has become the custom here, too, where Hallowe’en is now celebrated almost as much as in the US. It has even outdone Bonfire Night and the tradition of ‘A penny for the Guy’.

    Anyway, back to the porch light. This year, due to being under-the-weather, I did not make any gingerbread as in previous years, so I decided I would turn the light off and pretend I wasn’t home. About 4 pm, whilst still light outside, the doorbell rang. Unprepared I opened it… to be confronted by four masked ‘trick-or-treaters’ who blew small plastic trumpets! . It made me jump! Thank goodness I have a strong heart!

    I guess the enterprising quartet had worked out if they went around whilst still daylight, the porch light trick didn’t hold any meaning for them!

    1. Ah, the creativity of children in search of treats. Perhaps they’d been told they had to be home by dark, and were testing their luck. More probably, they simply were eager, and hopeful.

      There weren’t any children out and about in my neighborhood. Of course, our population of children is quite small, and it’s been some years since any trick-or-treaters showed up. On the other hand, some still-ambulatory residents of the assisted living facility across the street have been known to take matters into their own hands, and head out in search of candy. Believe me — hilarity ensued.

      I’m just hoping that November brings us the treat of cooler weather and rain.Our temperatures aren’t so terribly hot, but it’s more humid than is proper for November.

  13. We have been dressing as human beings for some time and it is frightening enough for most people. I think I need a new wardrobe I hate to scare the kids away. I have to admit that when in a crowd of people who are showing off their creativity, it IS fun. But how many people would actually leap out of their skins to see two old codgers tricked out in costume?

    1. I’ve been trying to remember some of my own childhood Halloween costumes, and mostly am drawing a blank. What I do remember are the masks we wore: made from some sort of strange paper, with an elastic band to keep them on. I’m sure that Mom made the costumes, and they probably were standard princess/ballerina/fairy tale character stuff.

      I can think of possibilities galore for you and Dr. Advice. Yin and Yang, for example: one in all black, one in white. Then you could spend the evening twined around one another on a sofa, and it would all be in the service of your character(s)!

    1. It was the thought of autumn travel that kept me slogging on through August and September. I really wanted to be able to leave with my work caught up, and I did. It made the trip much more enjoyable, even though I didn’t get quite as much crisp weather (or autumn color) as I’d hoped. It still was fun.

  14. Great piece. I have to admit I’m enjoying Halloween more the older I get – at least the bit where the 3-5 year olds come knocking. The rest is of little interest to me, but I suspect that our desire to be other than we are is grist for many a mill. Happy All Saints to you!

    1. I do miss having the kids around. One of my favorite memories from South Texas is a Halloween piñata shaped like a pumpkin — being pummeled by a horde of little ones. Great fun.

      I’m not sure if this is true, but it occurs to me that one of the great values of solitary, anonymous travel may be what we learn about ourselves. Freed from any imagined necessity to be other than who we are, we may surprise ourselves — and carry home something far more valuable than a clutch of postcards and some credit card receipts.

  15. What a great idea, human beings seem to be out of season during Halloween. Otherwise, welcome back to the “civilization”. I bet being without medias, social or others, was a treat of its own. Look forward to seeing more photos from your trip.

    1. One of my firm conclusions is that silence nurtures creativity. Not only does it make us more aware of the world around us, it allows us to engage in the sort of wandering thought that can help make sense of experience. And in truth, we don’t have to “go away” to find it. We can incorporate it into our daily lives, even in the heart of civilization.

      Dense fog, smoke from grass fires, and pervasive clouds of dust from the on-going harvest were real challenges, photographically, but I did bring back some images I was happy with. Your blog post about dealing with unexpected challenges certainly came to mind a time or two. Faced with zero visibility in the mountains — and hence, no majestic views — what to do? I got out the macro lens, of course. There’s always a solution!

  16. Going as a human being could be an unfamiliar concept to folks these days who place so much value on being other than themselves. While it would, or could, defeat the idea of a costume party, you’d probably not have to worry about someone dressing as yourself.

    I liked the emblem…Olde Crow General Store…especially the rather youthful “Estabished 2015”.

    1. There’s actually some history involved with the Olde Crow General Store. It’s an old IGA store, next to the Crows Station volunteer fire department.

      Crows Station was north of Paron, Arkansas on Highway 9, in the northern part of Saline County. Jasper Crow, the great-grandfather of a fellow whose wife was making inquiries on an message board, owned 160 acres there. A narrow gauge railroad track for hauling lumber ran north of Paron, and the railroad stop was called Crow’s Station. I love that the young family is reviving the store, and making it a real community center.

  17. I suited up as an alien one Halloween some years ago.
    Real cow’s pelvis for a mask and a long red robe.
    I did not factor in the knowledge that I already had a flu bug.
    One of the worst evenings in my repertoire.
    I’ve been dressing up like the locals for most events ever since.

    1. What you describe doesn’t sound quite like an alien to me — more like Mr. Mephisto crossed with an Edward Gorey villain.

      I think I found your flu bug on my travels. Here’s a photo of it. It’s the weirdest darned bug I’ve ever seen, with a long snout that makes it look like a horse. It would make a great costume, but I’d scare myself if I wore it.

  18. The kindness of strangers. I think we have lost sight of what it is to be ‘Human’. As I observe the chaos of the American Election and the behaviour of one person in particular (male) and the baying crowds that support him I get a chilling feeling that democracy as we thought we understood it is dead. Truth, decency, a prepardness to debate quietly and sincerely, are no longer the foundations of society. Extremism is everywhere. I read recently that Democracy has failed and Authoritarianism is replacing it. Humans are losing their Humanity – leaders are supposed to lead by example. What example?
    So to be ‘Human’ on a night that is another Cash Cow and is all about Fear and Fright etc seems to me to be exemplary.

    1. I don’t think most people have lost sight of the beauty and importance of our humanity, but I do think there are individuals and groups abroad in the world who would like us to forget: encouraging that constantly, and in a variety of ways. Inculcating fear is one method. Lies are another. It’s not limited to any one political party, or ideological group, either. I’ll forego examples, but I’m sure you can think of some.

      I did have a very interesting conversation with a friend in Wales once I returned home. She commented on our election, and drew some parallels with the contentious Brexit election. That’s a fairly obvious comparison, but what interested me was her throw-away line that run-ups to both elections resembled nothing so much as her local parish council meetings. Same dynamic, smaller scale. I laughed, but I’ve given it some thought since. Learning how to move beyond such destructive interaction’s important.

      One book you might enjoy (as have I) is Jonathan Haidt’s ” The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” It’s a well-written exploration of the issues.

      1. An interesting article, Linda. But I think the book might be a little indigestible. I was a Parish Councillor for a few years and found the petty arguments hard to stomach. Eventually I realized that there were more profitable ways of spending 3hours once a month.

  19. Oh lovely lovely photos! I’m so jealous of your travels. I don’t know if I could forego my smart phone though… I could probably skip Facebook (probably. maybe), but my phone has my latest library book & my favorite words games. Why no, I don’t have a problem just sitting & enjoying my surroundings. Why do you ask? :)

    P.S. The comment about how to transform into a Kardashian made me laugh out loud.

    1. I finally found out why I was having trouble with my laptop on this trip (it wasn’t the laptop, but changes made to certain wifi networks — it’s complicated) and I was glad to be able to solve the problem with a new iPad. I used it from time to time, and was happy to have it. But generally, I felt no lack. Of course, I live without television and without a smart phone, so there’s that. And I had the books I needed with me, tucked into the trunk: another advantage of traveling in a car.

      Actually, Matfield Station, the place I stayed in Matfield Green, doesn’t even provide radio or tv to its guests. On the other hand, I did get to step out the back door and wave to the train engineers every time another BNSF fast freight rolled by. Better than television, by far!

      That comment about the Kardashians made me laugh, too.

  20. I LOVE that — going as a human being. And you met some wonderful ones on the road, but I’m not surprised. There was an article not too long ago in the NYTimes about how one should leave the phone at home when they travel and actually talk to people. Pull out a map. Ask for directions. Be willing to go off the beaten path to discover something new. Not get immersed in social media or news but just be and enjoy.

    And you did exactly that — and look what you got. Wonderful new friends. You may or may never see them again but for that moment in time and forever in your heart, they are friends, as true as any. You discovered new places and you didn’t get shot, thanks to your vest. What more can one ask for? Yes, safe passage. And you had that, too.

    I’m glad you are home safely and I hope you are not being shunned by one beautiful calico. I look forward to tales from the road. (A taco? OK.)

    1. That’s all you need: an up-to-date Rand McNally (their new, large size, spiral bound atlases are fabulous — the paper doesn’t tear), a smile, and a willingness to ask questions. For one thing, people are intrigued by someone who isn’t carrying a GPS or other iGadget, and their pleasure in someone being interested in their world can be touching. I didn’t even need the NYT to figure that out!

      Dixie took a day to come out from under the bed. Then, once she was willing to be touched, she turned demanding. For two nights, she’d wake me every hour, yowling in my ear and demanding attention. It almost was as though she needed reassurance that I really was home. Now, we’re settling back into our old routines, and the constant yowling has stopped. During the day, all she does is sleep. Three weeks is a long time to be upset and constantly on guard.

      Right now, I need a few more days to get settled in at work, and prepare for some upcoming classes and commitments. But it’s great fun sorting through the photos, and figuring out which experience to share next.

  21. I am glad I don’t have to dress up for Halloween, I really just wanted to go door to door in my regular clothes and beg for candy! It’s really become something more than it should be, but that’s just my opinion being shared. :)

    1. I’m with you, Tamara. We seem to want to turn everything into a production these days, and the celebration of Halloween’s no exception. In the old days, we’d put on a pirate’s hat, grab a pillowcase or plastic pumpkin, and off we’d go. I always was pleased to get big Tootsie Rolls, Necco wafers, or licorice whips. I’m not sure we even had peanut butter cups back then, or the bite-size Hershey bars. Ah, progress!

  22. I’m glad you had a good time Linda. I tell you, U.S. has more than enough places to go and visit. I don’t feel like I have to feel bad if I miss seeing Europe in my lifetime.

    1. I’ve been to France, Germany, and Spain, and enjoyed it, but I’ve no longing to return. As you point out, there are more than enough places to see here, and many that I’d like to see, I haven’t. Some of those places are reachable even in a long weekend, so not even a “grand tour” is necessary. But I did have a good time on this trip, and do have a few interesting tales to tell.

  23. Thanks for letting me into your head! ;-) I like that idea – but it’s very challenging, isn’t it? Anyway, it sounds like you had a rewarding trip, and I’m expecting more stories…

    1. The fact that I even imagined “human for Halloween” as a possibility probably points to just how difficult defining and achieving humanity can be. In any event, it was a twist on the holiday that seemed to fit well with impressions from my trip.

      Now, it’s a settling and sorting process, while I figure out what was most interesting and worth sharing. That’s not always immediately obvious — like your dry leaves.

  24. Welcome home. So glad you had a good time. Your pix are great. That Matfield Station renovated bunkhouse with the lone tree is very interesting.

    Only five goblins knocked on our door. They were divided into two groups so we only answered the door twice. I would have enjoyed a few more. The little ones are the cutest.

    1. Matfield Station has quite a history. I loved being right next to the tracks, and being able to watch the trains go by. Sometimes, they’d do switching, too, so there would be two trains at one time. They rolled day and night, but you know me — a fast freight at 2 a.m.? Never heard them.

      It surprises me that you had so few trick-or-treaters. Then I remembered: you’re in a new neighborhood. Did the horse stick his head over the fence to ask for a carrot?

  25. Your blog on Halloween reminds me of my annual remonstrance during our Tulip Festival. Every year, I get the query, “Where’s your Dutch costume?” Being half-Dutch and half-German, I’m tempted to say, “Which half should be wearing it,” but I just respond with, “I’m wearing it!” Loved your post and your take on the kindness of folks.

    1. That’s a great response. Your Dutch half may enjoy an upcoming post on Queen Wilhemina. (Your German half might, too, but perhaps not as much.)

      People are kind. They’re also funny, generous, and forthcoming. If you surprise them — perhaps by getting out of the car with a paper road atlas in your hand — they’re also amenable to extended conversation. I can’t even imagine letting Google trips set my agenda. For that matter, even my agendae are pretty loose when I travel.

    1. Are you suggesting that Halloween’s not the only time of year when people adopt disguises? Who woulda thunk it? Of course that’s why I chose to lump “Halloween” with “and beyond.” A little musing over the disguises we adopt on a daily basis never is out of place.

  26. Such an enjoyable sounding trip. Especially the prairies. Hope to see some of your marvelous photos in your up coming posts. Glad you are home safe. Loved that last line. Go as a human. Halloween is not my cup of tea. I detest the entire celebration. I sound like a scrooge.

    1. As a matter of fact, Yvonne, I nearly have a new post ready that’s photo-heavy, and that gives clues about stories to come about the Tallgrass Prairie and its bottomlands, midwestern farming, the Arkansas mountains, and so on.

      I don’t think you sound like a Scrooge at all. We just have our preferences. I’d heard so much about Eureka Springs, Arkansas, that I was looking forward to it, but my immediate, visceral response was entirely Scrooge-ish, and it never changed: think of Six Flags trimmed with gingerbread and with inadequate parking. Oh, the metaphors I could come up with. I know there’s a local community underneath all the trappings — one of my friend’s uncles was superintendent of schools there in the 1950s — but I just didn’t have the time, the energy, or the inclination to dig for it.

    1. Ah, but you’re a numbers person. Think about this. The last time I had three weeks (six, actually) was in 1990: twenty-six years ago. On this trip, I turned 70. In another twenty-six years, I don’t think I’ll be here. It was time to go, while I still could. Your window of opportunity’s a little bigger than mine! :-)

    1. Thank goodness she’d limited herself to the lettuce and tomato, and hadn’t tried to add grated cheese to the costume! As for going as a human being — the great thing about that is you don’t have to make a visit to Target or wear a mask.

    1. No, indeed. As a child, I was shy and withdrawn, preferring to immerse myself in books. As a teen and young adult, I was awkward and self-conscious: a high achiever scholastically and otherwise, but without a shred of confidence. No one around me believed me when I said I felt inadequate, but so it was.

      Once I began sailing, true transformation began. When I started my business and realized I was making a success of it, changes came pretty rapidly. I gained confidence in myself, and mostly stopped worrying about what other people thought of me or expected of me (apart from a brief period of high anxiety when I started this blog).

      I suppose that’s the key. No longer haunted by a sense of inadequacy or focused on myself, I had more time for others. I discovered they were pretty darned interesting, and I began to enjoy getting to know them. It certainly does make travel more interesting.

        1. I didn’t recognize the author’s name or the book title, but as soon as I heard “Louisiana” and “Calcasieu” I knew who she was. There’s been discussion of her work on a Houston radio talk show that’s carried by stations in Louisiana, and whose callers include people from the area she studied.

          I haven’t listened carefully, but I can’t remember hearing any truly negative responses from the callers. One woman did say (paraphrasing here): “She seemed to think we’d have one eye in the middle of our forehead, and six arms, but we thought the same about her.” Actually, that sounds pretty darned empathic.

          I especially liked what she had to say about tone.

          As for the “deep stories,” her comments on those reminded me of a Jonathan Haidt piece that you can find here. There are remarkable echoes of Hochschild’s presentation in these words of Haidt about the “conservative impulse to maintain the status quo, even when that status quo contains inequalities, and even when the person him or herself seems (to a progressive) to be a victim of that status quo.” Hello, southwest Louisiana petrochemical culture.

          One question I have is how her conclusiions might differ if she’d chosen a different part of Louisiana for her focus. My hunch is that the “deep stories” of the bayou parishes would differ somewhat. But, I’m going to read the book first, and go from there.

          Thanks for the link!

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