It’s nearly impossible to overemphasize the importance of Hallowe’en in the American holiday calendar. I don’t know how it plays out in California or Mississippi or Florida – places where the days are longer and the trees greener in October than they are in New England – but here, it’s all corn mazes and haunted houses and haunted corn mazes, for really the whole of October. I think it’s something to do with the light. This collection of autumn paintings captures some of it. So does the picture below, only a week old, but still a memory now; the trees across the road have lost all their leaves.
Remember, New England – specifically rural Massachusetts, though not our part of it – is where Lovecraft chose to set his stories of eldritch horror (warning: that link has the eldritch power to make you lose at least a couple of hours of your life). This is lovely country during the autumn day, but the nights are getting longer and the trees more bare and our house is at least a century old and rather creakier than I’d like, in the dead of the night. In New England, in October, almost anything can lurk around the corner.
This was only emphasised when I went to hang out with Mike in Connecticut a couple of weeks ago and decided to entertain myself while he was at work (I had a long weekend, he didn’t) by going to a nearby zoo. This was Columbus Day, remember, three and a bit weeks before Hallowe’en. Everything seemed normal. Then I entered the greenhouse.
It got creepier.
Now a bit disturbed – the place was, after all, swarming with fairly small children – I continued on. Most of the rest of the zoo appeared normal, in a depressing pre-1990s way; I had thought large cats in small cages went out sometime during my childhood. Apparently not.
I did like their emphasis on North and South American wildlife; this was the first time I’d seen a buffalo, or a bald eagle, or prairie dogs.
Although I could have done without the discovery that Massachusetts is home to two-metre long snakes. Well, I’d rather snakes than poisonous spiders, but fewer snakes are better, in my opinion. (Especially when it comes time to defend my thesis.)
I’d almost forgotten about the Greenhouse Of Creepiness. And then.
Apparently they were very tidy man-eating spiders, though.
I’ll be quite pleased once we get past Hallowe’en, I think. On the other hand, our local supermarket already has a Christmas display. In mid-October. In that light, the spiders don’t seem so bad.