Post #184 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett
HONORABLE MENTION WINNER for Halloween Memoir Contest — From an Adult’s Perspective Category
Ghosts, goblins, and Halloween fun are all part of Cindy Briggs’ story of how adults enjoy the day just as much as children. Kendra and I are pleased to publish Cindy’s story, an honorable mention winner in the Adult’s Perspective Category October 2011 Memoir Writing Contest.
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HALLOWEEN MEMOIR VIGNETTE: HARVEST HAUNTS
October 31, 1979
“Yow, what is that thing? It touched me! Oh, my gosh, I think…it’s a person…a dead person!”
“Dead? Let me out of here!” Children and adults alike jumped from the hay wagon and scattered into the fields like frightened mice.
As part of our autumn festivities we invited one hundred guests to share in lighthearted folly as we celebrated our farm’s bounty. The gathering fell on the spookiest night of the year, Halloween.
Guests gathered at a nearby farm where they boarded a creaky hay wagon. Anticipation mounted as the serpentine ride brought them through the foggy, black night and over the back country roads eventually arriving at our Harvest Gala. At one point during the hayride guests were shocked out of their knickers by ghoulish goblins. It was planned that a mummified man would serve them fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, or Count Dracula would drop-in to say, “Good evening!” while flashing a toothy grin.
Our three largest barns were situated at the end of a long, shadowy gravel driveway. Old gnarly apple trees hovered at the barn’s entrance, but on this dank October evening, the trees provided a haunting hiding place for ghosts, and perhaps a dead body or two…
As the wagon pulled to a squeaky stop at the end of the driveway, “plop, plop” a body, who was also known as Mr. Scarecrow, fell from an overhanging tree limb, scaring the wits out of our unsuspecting guests. Screams rippled through the night air as they scurried to the warmth and safety inside the brightly lit barn.
With each load of laughing guests the barn soon filled with the spirit of autumn. Guests felt in their hearts that they were in a happy place where light Halloween revelry waved through the lofty barn.
“Wow! We thought we were free from ghoulish pranks!” one man chortled, as he sauntered toward the barn where the teenagers were dipping apples into thick, gooey caramel.
The children were enthralled with our oak cider press, which produced a bracing mug of sweet frosty cider with fresh apple chunks floating atop.. The apples for the press were cold, picked after they’d absorbed the crisp bite in the fall air
Many of the adults huddled in the corner near the rusty, two-barreled wood stove breathing in the woodsy fragrance of the fast-burning alder. A brightly colored burro pinata waited in the rafters to shower the children with tiny surprises. When the pinata was cracked open the adults threw coins in with the sweets and trinkets that fell onto the straw-covered floor.
“Look! I found a silver coin…and a chocolate bar!” The children squealed with delight as they gathered their share of the treasures.
A brooder and hen house adjoined the main part of the barn, which served as our haunted house. Menacing black bats were hanging from the ceiling where furry spiders loomed in their webs that spanned across the musty room.
The room was dark and murky with air that glowered heavy and lifeless. A disfigured witch stirred her cauldron that overflowed with a thick purplish-green potion. Some of the plump grapes escaped over the side of the kettle as she moved her stick to and fro through the bewitched mess. The grapes rolled away disappearing between the slats of the warped floorboards.
This was a eerie gathering place for young and old alike to exchange Halloween lore, and that they did. The scary tales sent goose bumps up our spines and caused our neck hairs to bristle like those of mad dogs.
Just as the youngsters and the more faint of heart were ready to bolt from the terror, a hearty “ha, ha, ha!” cut through the fright. The flame of friendship was aglow in a nearby room and it was a comforting reminder to those who got caught up in the menacing spirits of the night. “That’s right, this is all in fun. I’m among friends!” They whispered to reassure themselves.
The witch began serving portions of the ghastly concoction as the last story was being told. “Don’t be afraid! Just close your eyes and pretend you’re eating sweet juicy grapes that add to the flavor of a mouthwatering salad!” She threw back her head and cackled with glee.
“Don’t Be Afraid” Grape Salad
1 ½ pounds seedless grapes, Use a combination of green, red and black grapes to look like “eyeball” salad or all green to convey a more grotesque “What am I eating?” feel.
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sour cream
½ cup nuts, chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup nuts, chopped
Wash grapes and remove from stems; dry grapes thoroughly with paper towels and place in large mixing bowl. Mix sour cream and ½ cup brown sugar together in a medium size bowl; add nuts. Pour sour cream mixture over grapes and gently stir until grapes are well coated. Garnish with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and ¼ cup nuts, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings
If you like Cindy’s story, you may enjoy her blog and website:
Website: Traditional Comfort Food & More