It’s Fall in Chico. The leaves offer new splashes of brilliant reds and yellows with each passing day, the harvest is in full swing, and Artoberfest will soon be winding down. That means Halloween is just around the corner. With Halloween comes my annual sense of bemusement about what the holiday has become. No longer a special day of fun, costumes, and candy just for the kiddies--the grown-ups, it seems, refuse to be left out. Maybe it’s good for the economy? Oh well.
Not me though, I am way past playing dress-up. However, there are a couple of Halloween traditions I have not been able to leave in childhood. One is gorging myself on candy corn every October the 31st, only to swear off the stuff until Halloween rolls around again next year. The second is reading a really scary story. Out loud if anyone will listen.
Not the stories with big pumpkins and cuddly dogs. Oh no. I’m talking about the ones that gave me nightmares as a kid. There were plenty. The Wizard of Oz and winged monkeys come to mind. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Brom Bones, Stoker’s Dracula, and Mrs. Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho with all those windy corridors. But the scariest (and shortest) of them all was a children’s book my grandmother brought back from Japan. O-E Yama: The Story of General Raiko and the Ogres of O-E Yama. Oh my gosh! I never, ever read it to my own children when they were young. It was just way too scary! But if you ever come across a copy (I still have mine, dog-eared, cracked binding, fabulous illustrations of the most terrifying blue, green and red ogres you have every seen or imagined), I highly recommend. . .
...sleeping with the light on!