Pumpkin Harvest

Last week I met “in the middle” with a client, which meant I found myself in tiny Nolensville, Tennessee. This one was made easier because sometime in the last year or so Veterans Parkway was completed, which means if I’m headed west, I can get to the interstate (I-840, which will cross I-65 and eventually hit I-40) without ever going into town.

I always enjoy a new drive, and this one, in particular, had some items of interest that caught my eye. So I took Gerry back a few days later.

We bought a pair of Amish-made Adirondack chairs at Smucker Farms (delivered later). They’re made out of “poly”—recycled material (including some wood) that will last for decades, we’re told.

And then we stopped at Fast’s Nursery in Arrington because I couldn’t resist the vast array of pumpkins.

Fast's farm shop in Arrington, TN.

Fast’s farm shop in Arrington, TN.

Just look at these things! A vast array indeed!

The names are fantastic: Porcelain Doll, Giant Cinderella …

The names are fantastic: Porcelain Doll, Giant Cinderella …

The colors are beautiful on these Porcelain Dolls …

The colors are beautiful on these Porcelain Dolls …

Even this classicly shaped pumpkin—a Giant Cinderella—has a hint of pink in it.

Even this classicly shaped pumpkin—a Giant Cinderella—has a hint of pink in it.

I nearly swooned over these: Warty Goblins! Blue Dolls!

I nearly swooned over these: Warty Goblins! Blue Dolls!

The sun was very bright.

The sun was very bright.

Ghostly Blue Dolls …

Ghostly Blue Dolls …

I have no idea what these are called, but as far as I’m concerned, they embody the spirit of Halloween.

I have no idea what these are called, but as far as I’m concerned, they embody the spirit of Halloween.

But wait! There’s more!

But wait! There’s more!

Yes, I bought a couple pumpkins. Who could resist?

’Tis the season!

’Tis the season!

The days are cooler, and the nights are definitely cooler. We’re heading into autumn, y’all.

 

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Lexington Thriller Parade

Last week one of my friends—a former resident of Lexington, Kentucky—posted on Facebook a video of the annual reenactment of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video that has happened in downtown Lexington every year since 2002.

Source: Thriller! Lexington Facebook page.

Source: Thriller! Lexington Facebook page.

It purely delighted me, and I have put it on my bucket list.

“When you think of Halloween in Lexington,” says the writeup at the Lexington Herald-Leader’s website,

You think of candy, pumpkins—and the Thriller community dance during the Halloween parade.

First conceived in 2002, Teresa Tomb of Mecca Dance Studio and Melissa McCartt- Smyth, who works in the office of Lexington mayor Jim Gray, refined the idea by putting out a note to see if Lexingtonians were interested in participating.

The idea was to involve Lexingtonians even if they didn’t have formal dance training.

That first year, McCartt-Smyth recalls, “We worked on it for a couple of weeks. We did a little rolling (street) blockage with the police. We did word of mouth. We even invited my parent.”

It was a modest thing.

“We thought it would be just a fun little street performance,” Tomb said.

Tomb and McCartt-Smyth thought that would be the end of it—until the next July, when they started getting calls asking when rehearsals for 2003 Thriller would start.

Here’s a clip from 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Isn’t that just fabulous? This year thousands lined the streets to watch, and they had six Michael Jacksons and more than twelve hundred zombies. The zombie walk is open even to those who have no dance or theater training, but they must learn the dance. Lexington-dot-gov says if you want to shamble along, it’ll cost you $11.00 ($6.00 if you’re sixteen or under), and you are required to attend at least one regular rehearsal and one staging rehearsal.

Now, Lexington’s a four-hour drive from here, so I don’t think I’ll be dancing in the streets, but I do think it would be fun to be there some October, don’t you?

 

The Gaelic Origins of Halloween

The closest I get to a celebration of Halloween these days is to put a pumpkin on the front porch and call it good, but, of course, some folks get a lot more excited about it than I do. Some, in fact, take it too seriously—and I’m not talking about the folks with the inflated Headless Horseman in the front yard—which is why I also enact the Great Halloween Lockdown for my beautiful black cat.

Laddie never met a human he didn’t like, which makes him vulnerable to stupid people this time of year.

Laddie never met a human he didn’t like, which makes him vulnerable to stupid people this time of year.

The Lad thinks I’ve just forgotten to open the cat door, and spends a lot of this week before Halloween trying to get my attention so I’ll remember. It’s a trial for both of us. 🙂

Where were we? Oh yes.

Samhain. The Gaelic origin of Halloween.

They didn’t teach these things to little American children when I was growing up. Wikipedia says Samhain

is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh it makes up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. … [It] is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is known to have pre-Christian roots. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. As at Beltane, special bonfires were lit. … Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies could more easily come into our world. … In the 9th century, the Roman Catholic Church shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged and helped to create the modern Halloween. Historians have used the name ‘Samhain’ to refer to Gaelic ‘Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century.

I tell you all this so you’ll enjoy this article from an Irish web newspaper, about some ancient Samhain spots in Meath, Roscommon, Dublin, and Wexford:

The Hill of Ward (Tlachtga), Co. Meath

Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon

The Hellfire Club, Co. Dublin

Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford (2 distinct links here)

Me, I don’t care much for the spooky, so when I get to visit these sites, I’ll make sure it’s in the broad daylight. In summer. Boo! Happy Halloween!

(Note: the author misspells William Conolly’s name; he was Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, which is how, apparently, the author comes up with “William Speaker Connolly.”)