Halloween on the East Coast sure is different than sunny Southern California. It started to snow this morning in Maine – fat, frosty flakes that had the Dubrow boys running in circles like excited puppies, trying to catch one on their tongues. Ado has never experienced snow (except in Mammoth when he was too little to remember) and had a complete conniption fit when I tried to put his on his parka and snowboots. This does not bode well for the next five weeks that we will be here in the chilly Northeast.
The leaves in New England have changed color about three times in the last month, going from green to gold to red to a burnt orange that signifies they are completely dead. They fall in waves like tiny sailboats wafting on the wind. A thick, decomposing carpet now covers our lawn, growing deeper with each gust.
If we leave the leaves where they fall, our lawn will be a mulchy, moldy mess by next Spring. So yesterday, Ethan and I finally decided to do some actual work. Remember, compared to The Golden State, land here is cheap, lots are generally large, and leaves are infinite, so it’s a big job.
Turns out, The Toluca Lake Hillbillies are not all that good at leaf clearing – a skill that is built into the DNA of locals who have done it all their lives. Half the tines on our rickety green rake were broken off and all we had to scoop them up with was a heavy, red snow shovel. Griffin and Ado impeded our progress every time they jumped in the neatly raked piles, but their WWF-style tumbles and flops were so funny it was hard to get mad. What I am mad about are the five fresh blisters I now have on each hand, and the fact that the yard is only one-third raked (and now has snow on it).
Yesterday morning, we drove down the coast, the islands dotting the Penobscot Bay glistening gold in the weak late October sunlight. Our destination was Owl’s Head Light state park. This beautiful, squat, black and white lighthouse was first lighted in 1825 and still continues to work just fine today.
On the front lawn of the lighthouse keeper’s home was a grave marker for Spot, a dog that lived there in the early 1900’s. Spot was a smart, helpful hound that learned to pull the fog bell’s rope with his teeth, and legend has it that Spot once rang the bell just in time to alert the captain of the Matinicus mail boat that he was about to crash into the rocky shore. Hence, Spot’s prime burial spot.
The lighthouse is also known for the story of “The Frozen Couple Of Owl’s Head.” One stormy night in 1850, a schooner with three people on board hit the rocks. One man made it through the frigid surf to the Lighthouse. The keeper rallied a rescue party, but by the time they located the foundering boat, it had broken apart. The man and woman still on board, young lovers engaged to be married, were encased in a big block of ice. The rescuers carried the human ice block to a waiting sleigh and struggled back to Owl’s Head. There, with the couple looking pretty darn dead, they melted the ice in a bathtub and, voila!, both victims sputtered back to life. Much rum drinking ensued. The point I am making is that by December when we finally leave Maine, it will be really frigging cold.
After the Lighthouse, we went to the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, where a giant auction and flea market was in full swing. Desperate to get rid of all the crap they were trying to sell, the auctioneer offered an entire table full of junk to anyone willing to pay three dollars. The catch was that you had to take it all. I guess I felt sorry for him because before Ethan could stop me, my hand crept up and, SOLD!, I was the new owner of four boxes filled with several FTD vases, a ceramic teapot in the shape of a gingerbread house, a crusty, old George Forman Lean, Mean. Fat Reducing Grilling Machine, a torn picture in a cracked frame, a rusty metal camping plate and a pizza cutter.
Ado immediately grabbed the cutter and began waving it back and forth over his head like he was hacking away at some giant imaginary pizza in the sky. When I tried to snatch it back, he smacked himself in the mouth with the sharp metal wheel, cutting both lips and spurting blood onto the auction table, his white Alapca sweater from Peru and his mom. The point here is that Ado The Tornado cannot be trusted with anything sharper than a donut.
Tonight, when we trick-or-treat on Cedar Street in tiny Belfast, Ethan will be Batman, I am the obligatory witch and
Ado will be a dinosaur – an animal that unfortunately did not fare so well in freezing cold weather. Griffin will go as King Arthur, the sword, dagger and bloody hatchet hanging on his belt giving him the manliest swagger a five-year old can manage. If the snow continues to fall on Halloween Night however, we will all be dressed as ski instructors.