A few years back I looked out the living room window of my home in Aspinwall, PA during a February blizzard. I noticed that the snowdrift was even with the bottom of my windowsill, stretching out like a soft and fluffy freshly laundered blanket as it evenly covered the ballfield across the street.
That’s when I decided it was time to move south.
It took me a few more years to settle on St. Petersburg, Florida, as my new home. I moved to Florida in January 2019. St. Pete is a great place to live. The people are super friendly, the climate is sunny and 80 degrees year-round, the dolphins and manatees sport in Tampa Bay. But this year, for the first time since I moved, I’m missing Autumn and the change in seasons.
I felt a genuine pang when I flipped the calendar to October 2021. I miss apple cider, and crisp fall mornings when the first earthy frost heaves crunch beneath my feet. I miss the rustling gold and scarlet maple leaves and lifting cherished heirloom Shetland wool sweaters from a cedar chest, gently scented by mothballs. I even miss frothy pumpkin spice lattes.
What I miss the most is the family fun at Halloween.
Aspinwall is a tight-knit community with 2,800 people crammed into 0.4 square miles. Now kids who hunt candy are calculating little monsters, and any child related to me quickly figured out that the most efficient way to loot the most candy in the strictly limited amount of time was to trick-or-treat using Aunt Martha’s house as their home base.
It worked. We had a blast, and we had it down to a science. The grown-ups hung out at my house drinking beer and sipping wine after we released our pillaging horde to terrify the neighbors. The best part of the Halloween evening was when the kids returned, hunched and struggling under their overloaded pillowcases. (Disclosure: I believe we inherited pirate DNA.) The kids then kicked us out of the living room, spilling their loot across the floor and setting up an impromptu marketplace where they hustled each other out of their favorites. It was the best party of the year, and it took hours.
The kids are grown now, but I still cherish the memories and this photo:
St. Pete has its own Halloween traditions. We hang cobwebs and plastic pumpkins off the palm trees:
What’s your fondest Halloween tradition or memory? Did you share thrilling ghost stories around a fire pit, or hand-make your costume?