Halloween starts the dark months in the northern hemisphere, when clocks race toward night while we still yearn for day, trees that just last week were ablaze are now bare, the mosaic of the forest floor morphs into a brown sepia tone, and the monochromatic blue-grey skyline fades quickly to black. Where can we look to find a spark? How can we edge up a smile that lasts past the early dusk? What lurks just ahead that can transform our outlook? Well, I have three suggestions.
First, be playful. Halloween provides an opportunity to do just that. Carve a silly face, roast up the seeds, and yes, eat a bit of candy. If you have youngsters, don a costume and join the parade. In my children’s youth, I pulled a tattered black velvet robe from the back of my closet, added a pointy hat, and off we went. As Mother Witch I escorted my gangster, fortune teller and little pirate once around the neighborhood until they were old enough to go it alone. Now sans children in the home, I still participate in the delight of costumes. Who can resist the chance to be someone out of the ordinary? Perhaps a day to dream you are a starlet! Or an evil queen? Play, pure and simple.
Second, walk outdoors. Take advantage of your neighborhood park or the trails in your nature center or for those in rural areas venture into your backyard forest. Lift your eyes. Look around. All around. Yes, those noisy geese have flown south and those brilliant leaves are a faded ocher, but there is still beauty to be found. Sure it might mean wearing galoshes and plenty of layers, but don’t let weather slow down your outdoor experiences. This November and December keep moving for all the best reasons. The other day while walking our bike trail we spied a pair of cedar waxwings perched in this almost bare tree. They cheered us thoroughly as did the brisk air and a chance to move.
Lastly, see these dark months as an opportunity. Perhaps spend time cultivating your creativity at the easel or desk: I believe we all have a masterpiece within us and all it needs is time to emerge. Nurture the artist within. Read. Study. With dusk settling in before supper and long nights ahead we have time to do just that. There is also a gift of the sunrise and sunset seen easily on our morning and evening commutes. The string of headlights shooting beams into the heavy sky break on the horizon just where the curve of hilltop is the highest. Feel that beauty. Shifting seasons requires us to do the same. Go inside and find what Aristotle immortalized, “Happiness depends on ourselves.”