Well, Hallowe'en has come and gone without an appearance from our alleged ghost. We got all hopeful during tricks-or-treats when we heard footsteps overhead in the party room, which was supposed to be empty, but it turned out to be some of our residents who'd gotten in by mistake. (One wonders what they thought they were doing stumbling around in the dark, but that's another story.)
I'd already had a busy day, what with buying enough candy for about a couple hundred kids and prizes for our colouring contest winners, and helping to decorate the front of my apartment complex's clubhouse. We got into a big hoofrah with our animated vampire that was supposed to roll along a wire strung overhead, turn and then roll back. The only thing he would do was turn to the right and utter a steady stream of scary pronouncements, prompting a co-worker to note the resemblance to certain right-leaning politicians currently in power over here. (Our vampire kept up his stubbornly uncooperative routine during tricks-or-treats, and after about half an hour the co-worker said, 'Oh, shut up, you' and turned him off, which is certainly a lot quicker and more efficient than holding an election.)
After we'd finished decorating, I'd gone for a walk to get some fresh air before the evening's festivities and came across another bit of drama. A couple of our maintenance staff were trying to round up a white rabbit1 that was doing its best to evade capture. So was this a comic version of Alice in Wonderland? Anyway, I was able to sweet-talk the critter, pet it and pick it up — apparently I'm a 'bunny whisperer' — but after about 20 seconds the rabbit decided it wasn't having any of it and started flailing and kicking. I was in no mood to be bitten or pooped on, so I gave up. The little ingrate had managed to scratch me, though, so I had to endure an evening of teasing about being attacked by a were-rabbit (nope, not Alice in Wonderland; it was the latest Wallace and Gromit adventure), followed by a visit to my doctor the next day for a tetanus shot. Stupid rabbit2.
Somebody ought to do a scholarly paper on how Hallowe'en costumes reflect the issues a society is grappling with. Or not. In the past I've seen masks bearing the likenesses of various politicians and other controversial figures. TV and movie figures are popular, as are the usual witches, vampires, ghosts, and whatnot. We ladies got all excited when we spotted one of the dads dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow. A discussion ensued over which of us got to take him home. Lord, he was cute ... *goes into vapour lock* ... Ahem. Anyway, judging from this year's crop of costumes, we haven't got a worry in the world. Which isn't true, of course; it's just that it's so hard to dress up as rising oil prices or bird flu.
Mostly we've reacted to each new bit of news about bird flu with our usual mixture of worry and indifference. We've got more immediate concerns in these parts, such as cows on our roads. Early one morning last week a cattle truck overturned on a major interstate highway on the west side of my hometown, spilling dead and live cows in all directions. Anything is an excuse to shut down major thoroughfares around here, and officials closed the highway for the better part of the day, snarling morning rush hour traffic and prompting the delivery of plenty heated prose to the phones and desktops of city officials and the editors of our local newspapers. Meanwhile, the escaped cows were in no mood to be rounded up — as far as they were concerned, being tossed tail over tea kettle out of a truck was more than any self-respecting cow should have to endure and they were prepared to resist arrest, as it were. The media can't resist mayhem like this, so those of us who were lucky enough not to be stuck on the closed highway were treated to plenty of pictures of the proceedings.
Of course, none of this is as frightening as the realisation that Christmas happens next month. Once you're an adult, it seems like Christmas comes every other month or so, and while children may think this is a wonderful thing with piles of presents in the offing, adults get to look forward to piles of bills and a sudden excess of in-laws. Not to mention that we have to seriously clean the house. (Motto: 'Once a year, whether it needs it or not'.) Some of us consider selling the house instead and moving to a remote tropical island, leaving no forwarding address.
For the last month or so, swarms of black birds fly overhead every morning and dusk, heading to and from their feeding grounds. They do this every fall, banding together by the thousands, preparing to face the cold months as a group. Meanwhile, a gaggle of about fifteen Canada geese has settled in by the lakes on our property, and they look as though they mean to stay. Our resident duck population has migrated over to the north lake, which sits lower and is surrounded by woods, offering some protection from the icy winds that are coming. The other day I spotted one of our local hawks sitting in a tree over the lake. They've also learned to hang around when the temperature falls, as people start filling their bird feeders which attract small and delicious (to a hawk, anyway) critters. And we humans are scurrying about, caulking our windows, buying flannel sheets and snow tires, and laying in large supplies of high-calorie foodstuffs.
Vampires and were-rabbits: hah! Nothing beats winter to scare the bejeebers out of us.