With each passing day, evening blew in earlier and earlier, and morning arrived later and later. This particular morning had dawned pink and cloudy, with wraith-like mists floating across the garden in the early hours of the day. And now the wind had picked up again, sending multi-colored leaves on their way: spinning, swirling, and eventually drifting down to join the others already piled on the ground. There was no mistaking the signs: All Hallows Eve was here.
Shortly after sunset, everyone gathered in the meadow, walnut cup of apple cider in one paw and a match in the other, and formed a companionable circle around the woodpile Raccoon and Squirrel had constructed. On Crow’s signal, they lit the ring of kindling, and the fire sparked, sputtered, and then caught. As the flames clamored up the woodpile and brightened the darkening night, everyone toasted the evening and welcomed the dark half of the year.
Later, as the bonfire continued to burn, and as the actual bats settled in for their winter nap, the chipmunk and squirrel children used soft yarn to tie on the wings they’d made out of black paper and thin twigs. With their paper wings flapping in the evening breeze, and in the heat from the flames, the young squirrels and chipmunks galloped in giant looping, twisty circles and pretended they could fly.
The adults, meanwhile, sat a little ways away from the leaping, sparking, crackling fire, drinking cider and sharing stories of the spirits who drifted like autumn mist through their own garden and through other gardens, both long ago and far away.
(All Hallow’s Eve 2022)