There is a certain chill in the air this time of year. Days are getting shorter, shadows just a little longer. As the leaves begin to change and the nights start to get cooler, everything seems just a little darker, a little spookier in October.
Of course, it could be that Halloween is just around the corner. Preparations for which actually started in late July if the store marketers are right. Harvest time brings lonely scarecrows guarding empty fields. Trees that have lost their leaves take on gnarled shapes in the dark.
It seems the perfect time for a spooky tale. And there is definitely no shortage of stories of things that go bump in the night. Perhaps it is the time of year that inspires artists and authors to thrill us with spooky tales and creepy paintings?
One of my favorites, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, was first published in 1820. The tale of Ichabod Crane facing the Headless Horseman on the bridge in Sleepy Hollow has been told and retold ever since. When I was in 3rd grade, I vividly recall a field trip to see the play. The production even included live horses. Ichabod Crane trying to outrun the Headless Horseman through the darkened theater aisles is seared into my memory!
Though as an adult, I’m pretty sure the horses did not run through the aisles, it was so intense and frightening to a 3rd grader that that is how I remember it! Maybe they did!
There is something about a spooky story that stays with you. As a child, I remember devouring the Nancy Drew Mysteries, each just spooky enough, and being thrilled and terrified of Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart.
There are plenty of books to send a shiver down your spine.
Artists have long been fascinated with portraying the ghastly and grim. Edvard Munch’s The Scream has always fascinated and frightened those that see it. Despite a smile, there is something creepy and disturbing about Odilon Rendon’s The Smiling Spider. Skulls are a common theme for many artists. Van Gogh’s Skull and Cezanne’s Pyramid of Skulls are quite haunting.
So enjoy this “spookiest” time of the year! Stay home with some hot cocoa or apple cider and enjoy some spooky tales, maybe paint your own eerie scene. Paint pumpkins and black cats here! If you have to go out, don’t let the season spook you. Button up your coat and pull your scarf a little tighter. I’m sure that was just the wind howling… that shadow just the tree… and the crunching in the leaves behind you just the neighbor’s cat… right?