“Listen to them–the children of the night. What music they make!” Bram Stoker
During this season, life is about the kids. This is a time of magic, wonder, and things that go bump in the night. Halloween has always been a favorite holiday for most children in the United States but this year, Halloween, the way it has been celebrated for decades, is canceled.
No random trick or treating, no gatherings, no haunted parties.
Since school has been online, kids yearn to get together to socialize with a bit of raucous fun and CANDY. With Covid-19 isolation, this year’s Halloween is going to be different…very, very different.
For weeks families have been brainstorming innovative ideas to provide a safe, yet enjoyable experience for their children. Although most everyone has probably decided how to celebrate, I’d like to add a bit of nature to the mixture.
When I was raising my two children, Halloween was always a major event, but not in the way that most kids participate. Every year our family would join with two other families to enjoy a full weekend of scary festivities in a circa 1900 Victorian in the middle of an isolated mountain forest that had been in the family of our friend for over 80 years. The drive to get to our destination was on a bumpy, winding, pot-holed road, with gnarled trees that jutted out of nowhere and deep canyons that could be perilous to the amateurish driver. The ride alone was frightening!
The house had no electricity (unless we used a generator) and the water was pumped from the creek. We always began our adventure with a hike to pick wildflowers and gather feathers, branches, colored leaves, and grasses to make decorations. Sometimes, we’d saddle the horses on the property to carry our bounty,
The landscape boasted a big vegetable garden that enthralled the kids. “What do you want for dinner?” we’d ask. Each child would grab a basket to pick their favorite vegetables. The fun began with the children helping to prepare our evening meal. On Halloween, we’d start the day picking apples in the orchard. We’d take the apples to the barn where we’d press them into apple cider, saving some to make apple pies. We would also play a fun game, Bobbing for Apples, giving prizes to the winner. (Not a recommended activity during this pandemic!)
Next was the pumpkin carving. Each person was given a pumpkin to carve or decorate. We saved seeds for roasting and some for planting in the spring. Again, the kids would go to the vegetable garden to pick their favorite vegetables. We’d craft with our found nature treasures and decorate the “haunted house”. Everyone would get dressed in their home-made costumes, followed by our Halloween feast.
Of course, the best was yet to come. The kids, all decked out in their Halloween regalia, couldn’t wait.
Trick or treating!
All the lights would be extinguished except for lanterns and candles. Darkness dropped with the haunting sounds of the night and a bit of help from the hidden boombox. One parent corralled the kids on the porch as the rest of the costumed parents hid behind doors of the house with bags of candy. On “go”, the kids ran door to door knocking, shouting “trick or treat”. An adult would jump out with a trick and fill their Halloween bag. After all the treats were distributed, like all kids, the trading and negotiating for candy began.
And, after the youngsters were totally exhausted, (and probably on a sugar high), we adults would celebrate Halloween, too.
The fond memories of these sacred Halloween traditions can be easily translated to our current situation with Covid-19 to ensure a safe and memorable Halloween. This year Halloween is on a Saturday. Make a weekend of it!
If you have a pod of people that you are already socializing with because you are all social distancing, one family could host the Halloween party. Or, make the Halloween event virtual to include more people.
Plan and prepare a meal together.
Dress in costume.
Buy a few bales of hay to create a maze. (The hay can be used in the garden afterward as top dressing.)
Carve or paint pumpkins.
Save seeds for roasting and spring planting.
Bake bread with menacing faces.
Make a candy shoot out of PVC to send candy from one person to another yard.
How about a slingshot to catapult candy across the street to your friends?
For those with gardens, employ the kids to pick vegetables and fruits that are festive and fun. For example, guavas are self-harvesting now, so if someone has a guava tree, try a new recipe.
Add a tiny pumpkin to an autumn floral bouquet.
Have a nature scavenger hunt followed by a mask making shindig with found elements: feathers, bark, twigs, flowers, acorns, pebbles, leaves, and more.
Press apples to make a brew of witch cider.
Visit a pumpkin patch with social distancing.
Howl at the moon with the coyotes!
Hoot with the owls.
Adults can hide in closets, bathrooms, or behind any doors. Just make sure to have the treats and a few tricks! Make sure to include the spooky tunes.
Finally, don’t forget the candy swap. Whether it is in person or virtual, swapping candy is an age-old tradition that every kid adores. Don’t forget the toothbrushes!
Wearing a mask is always appropriate on Halloween and this year it takes on special meaning. Be creative and safe. Make masks!
Shake your broomsticks. A ghoulish, ghostly midnight jamboree may be right outside in Mother Nature at the witching hour. It’s time for some hocus pocus.
Have a secure and joyful nature’s Halloween.
Happy gardening. Happy growing. Make sure to VOTE!
Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.
Buy copies of her best-selling books and receive extra freebies, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.
Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.
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TWITTER: Are you feeling antsy, stressed, and out-of-sorts? Retreating to our landscapes was initially a salve to the pain of the corona virus, social unrest, and political nastiness as we encountered improved air quality, quieter skies, and increased bird activity. We are too blessed to be stressed. Our current leader wants to be a dictator and must be ousted. Vote for decency, stability, and respect as you shelter with Mother Nature. . https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2020/10/14/sheltering-with-mother-nature/
10-20 DD-Sheltering with Mother Nature
Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
Sheltering with Mother Nature
“Too blessed to be stressed!” Bumper sticker
By Cynthia Brian
Are you feeling more in touch with Mother Earth as we near the beginning of eight months of stay-at-home mandates because of Covid-19? Or are you feeling antsy, stressed, and out-of-sorts? Retreating to our landscapes was initially a salve to the pain of the corona virus, social unrest, and political nastiness as we encountered improved air quality, quieter skies, and increased bird activity. Then the California fires arrived bringing choking smoke, scorching heat, and black ash. An additional layer of frazzle to our daily lives multiplied because we were unable to spend time in our gardens or outdoors for any reason.
In normal times, I work in the garden daily. It is an extension of my home, a serene, yet wild place where I am most creative and 100% myself. Every morning I walk through my property, a mug of java in hand, giving thanks for the beauty, solitude, and bounty of my magical oasis. Getting my hands in the dirt soothes my soul. I lose track of time as I weed, prune, trim, fertilize, water, and bite into a crunchy apple straight off the tree. I come up with the best ideas for my books, columns, radio shows, and lectures. Before they float away with the wind. I race to write my thoughts down.
As a fire prevention strategy, I have been clearing the brush and understory plants from my creeks when the air permits. If you live near open space, hills, or creeks, make sure to take time to remove dead trees, limbs, and brush as we have at least another month of fire season. Leave a couple of small brush piles as habitat for owls. Owls dine on a smorgasbord of voles, mice, rats, and other rodents that wreak havoc in the garden. A family of owls can devour several thousand rodents during the nesting season with the young eating as many as four per night. Add a nesting box 15 feet off the ground to a branch of an older tree. When you invite owls into your landscape, you won’t have to use harmful poisons, plus their hooting sound is calming.
Since sheltering in Mother Nature has been impossible these past two months, I find myself exhausted, jittery, tense, and concerned for the future of our country and our planet. For me, this means getting creative about the sensory experience that being outdoors provides and bringing those familiar feelings and scents indoors. If we can’t be in Mother Nature, let’s shelter with Mother Nature.
Here are some things you can do to relieve stress, feel energized, and rebalanced.
1. TAP into the sounds of nature on your favorite radio network. Listening to the trickling of a creek, the rushing of a river, or the pounding of ocean waves is relaxing. Or tune in to the cooing doves or the whistling cockatiels. Nature sounds quiet our beating hearts and quiets our blood pressure.
2. CREATE a bedtime spray that will alter your emotional and physiological mood. Gather fragrant roses petals and lavender in a glass jar. Pour boiling water over the petals, cover, and allow to sit in the sun for several hours to make a floral tea. Add a couple of drops of alcohol and pour the concoction into a sprayer. Spray your pillow before going to bed. Lavender alleviates tension and the fragrance of roses stimulates your immune system. You’ll slumber soundly. Experiment with other florals. Jasmine mitigates anxiety and bergamot increases positivity while reducing stress.
3. EAT fresh. Harvest fruits, herbs, and vegetables as needed. Instead of picking a bushel of tomatoes, only pick what you need immediately. Apples, figs, beets, radishes, arugula, eggplant, and peppers are ripe.
4. PICK a bouquet of fall blooming flowers such as Black-eyed Susan or echinacea to lessen anxiety. Add a small branch of pistache as it turns red. Just seeing fresh flowers and colorful leaves intensifies luxury and joy.
5. ADD a small, desktop fountain to your office. Watching the movement of the water and hearing the tinkling helps bring the outdoors in.
6. LOOK at photos of nature. Everywhere I go, I snap pictures of nature scenes that inspire me. When I’m feeling blue, I check out the green.
7. COLLECT reminders of the outdoors to showcase indoors. Turkeys are leaving their beautiful feathers in yards as they peck at the autumn seeds. Pinecones and acorns are dropping as squirrels stash treasures for winter. Make a fall arrangement to touch and admire.
8. PAINT a pumpkin with glitter and glamour. We’ll have the second full moon of the month on October 31st. Bring on the sparkle!
9. PLACE a pot of mums on your patio, porch, or balcony to admire through a window.
10. BUY any book from my website at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store and besides the extra seeds and goodies you will receive, I will send you a FREE musical CD to help you relax and re-balance.
Despite what our current leader says, the coronavirus will not be going away any time soon. We must continue to only listen to the scientists and heed the warnings of the medical establishment who have the training to understand these dire circumstances. The pandemic does not favor a political party. It recognizes no boundaries. We must be vigilant, diligent, savvy, and continue to wear masks, employ social distancing, and shelter-in-place as much as possible. When the air is clear, spend time outside. Hike, bike, walk, stroll, run, swim, and garden.
The leaves are starting to change into their glorious fall wardrobe. Autumn is a prime time for planting, but don’t risk your health on red-alert or spare-the-air days. There is plenty of time to plant bulbs, trees, and reseed or install lawns as temperatures will be warm into November.
We live in a beautiful area and are indeed too blessed to be stressed. Vote for decency and respect as you shelter with Mother Nature. I wish you peace, tranquility, and good health as we weather these disasters together.
Savor a sunset. Happy growing.
Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c, celebrating 21 years of service to the community. www.BetheSTARYouAre.org. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.
Buy copies of her best-selling books and receive extra freebies including a FREE relaxation CD., Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! series at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.
Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.