Autumn On The Way


Our trees have barely started turning yet, but there’s an abundance of Fall color going on in Central Texas right now.Those vivid chrysanthemums from Trader Joe’s, the butterflies in the sidewalk garden, the one last burst of flowers feeding the bees – we could tell summer was over even before the nights turned truly cool and the days went crystal clear and seventy degrees. It’s put us all in the mood to be outdoors for all the daylight hours, and to hell with allergies.


With a week yet to go, Halloween is on many minds. I wanted to pay some attention to the steps many families have taken to announce that in a couple of Tuesdays there will be candy for the taking at their house. Think about it: wouldn’t it be nice to be able to ring any doorbell, on any day of the year, and walk away with a treat?

I think we need a dose of that right about now.


Spiders are big in the ‘hood this year. I mean, literally. Don’t come to our little corner of heaven if you are prone to arachnophobia. They are hanging from eaves and trees and webs that appear to be made of rope, or holiday garland.


Some houses have bats, creatures treasured by Austinites who love the fact that one of the world’s largest urban bat populations lives right here, under the Congress Avenue bridge. It is a maternal bat colony, so many mothers who share child care responsibilities throughout the early summer until in August you can see over a million free tail bats fly out over Lady Bird Lake on any given evening.

We just have a few bats. On houses.


You’d think we wouldn’t have a mosquito left in the whole neighborhood, but so many families these days are paying to have artificial lab-created burnt garlic spray applied in clouds over their yards, the mosquitos all seem to seek sanctuary at our house. Thanks, neighbors. Can’t wait till the fake garlic thing is over.

Well, maybe not until after the season’s vampire threat is over. I should admit here right now that Travis and I have been scouring the ‘hood every day in search of vampires. And we have found none. I hate to think that stinky fake garlic spray actually works….

Many homes have sprouted their own personal cemeteries. This seems like a good idea. Why not be buried close to home?


Wedding, funeral – what’s the difference when it’s Halloween? On my walk today I was envisioning a Dia de los Muertos scene in which the skeleton family was setting up their Halloween with images of plump humans and little Cupids, standing on fat spiders to hang colorful hearts and Christmas trees all around their living room, a fire cracking merrily in the fireplace.

Austin would hardly be Austin without some, um, bygone musicians performing for us. Tap-tap, click-click.


Or how about The Scottish Play meets Hamlet? Could be a classic:


A number of homes in our safety-conscious piece of suburbia have posted guardians at their doors. I don’t know about evil spirits, but who would actually dare try to bypass household protectors who have nothing to lose? They could set your clothes on fire and not alter their own fate one iota.


This afternoon Travis and I encountered some wayward children from the wayback machine who had been sent to the yard to do some weeding as punishment for their misdeeds.

It must have been some impressive misbehavior, to be sentenced to pulling weeds for two hundred years.

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In another yard, human remains have been put to good use, making mulch. (We do have one of those come-as-you-are all-natural cemeteries in Austin, as a matter of fact. If I didn’t have my sights set on the medical school, I might go for that; but becoming mulch would be a dream come true.)


There are ghosts hanging from hundreds of trees, eerie as the sun goes down – especially in those stretches where streetlights are either burnt out or altogether absent. They inspire a picked-up walking pace.


Some figures meant to inspire terror in the hearts of evil spirits are so charmingly clad that ghouls could be only inches away before they notice the powerful counter-evil behind the shimmering veil.


Many families go with the classics.


Around here it’s good to have a few plastic back-ups, since we could have 100 degrees on any given October day and that kind of heat takes a lot of the starch out of real pumpkins.

One of my favorite houses this year has a skeleton family (complete with skeleton dog, as any suburban skeleton family must be) sitting on a settee before their front window, keeping watch over their own personal cemetery.


I wonder how they decide who gets to live where.

I have to admit, I look forward to small citizens coming to our door next week in search of candy. I love holding the big wooden bowl out to them and encouraging them to take more than one. Don’t forget some for your Mom and Dad, I tell them. Because we all know who’s going to eat all that chocolate.

What’s going on in YOUR haunted corner of the woods?



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