At first there is just a hint of fall in the air.
A freshness in the early morning, a slight lessening of the sun’s heat later in the day.
I thrill at even the slightest change as I yearn for cooler weather. Mornings to walk or hike, afternoons to read on the patio, evenings dining al fresco watching the night sky.
But, it’s Phoenix in October, the usual long goodbye to summer seemingly endless this year after too many days sheltered at home, travel wings clipped, family far away, friends safely keeping their distance.
I miss my kids and grands back East. And I miss the fall.
There’s a pumpkin on the counter, a bowl of gourds on the kitchen table, orange, gold and deep green, shades of autumn even while outside the temperatures rise.
But, as one week leads to another, and the end of October nears, I recall my mother’s words.
It doesn’t get cold in Phoenix until Halloween.
You know, sweater weather, maybe even jacket weather.
And I recall Halloweens past.
The frenzy of choosing costumes, charting Trick or Treat routes, picking out treats for the droves of revelers coming to our door. Decorating the house with scary spiders or evil witches or snaggle toothed monsters. It was fun.
How many pirates did we fashion with scarves and baggy pants, gold earrings and black eye patches? How many witches with pointy hats and shoes, black gauzy dresses, tangled hair and artful make up? How many rock stars or princesses?
The worry that it would be too cold to Trick or Treat, or even, rain. No fun to hide your costume under a fleece or a slicker, to cut the night short because of the weather. And lessen the loot you’d be toting home, the bags overflowing with sweet treats, stashed on the top of the fridge for days, trading Mars bars for Snickers, Gummy Bears for M and M’s, til the bags were smeared with chocolate and the candy crumbling.
So it was that my mom and dad usually made a trip to see us that time of the year. When the temperatures had cooled, the kids were busy with school and soccer and tennis and Hebrew, when Grandma and Grandpa could tag along to see what the kinderlach, growing up ever so fast, were up to.
And, of course, staying through Halloween.
But thinking about this now, I realize that while my parents loved being with our kids, it was really us they were recalling, us they missed from those very precious days when we were the kids in the costumes and they were the mom and dad. When they were making the costumes and going with us to trick or treat, and we were bringing home the bags loaded with candy.
So it goes, and so it will be, when next year, hopefully, we’ll be celebrating Halloween with the grands at their house, channelling all those memories of Halloweens past and making them anew.
And I’ll be thinking of my mom.
Who surely knew best.