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Halloween on Belle Isle

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

What lurks in the shadows of Belle Isle?

Kids… a gaggle of neighborhood kids merrily trick-or-treating like a Gary Marshall movie montage.

For me, Halloween wasn’t about elaborate costumes, or big parties or bobbing for apple contests. When I was a kid, it was all about the goosebumpy strangeness that night brought to the neighborhood, and just as fun and otherworldly as that…how great it smelled. (And of course, the candy)

It was a thrill walking those usually familiar streets that were now cloaked in darkness, fitful October breezes worrying and whispering the branches of the pines and oaks, waving their Spanish moss like specters dancing in dim street lamps.

There was also another thrill that galvanized me as we walked, hearts beating a little faster under our costumes.

Something else wonderful and enchanting that kept me walking along with my brothers….. even though I was scared of the Warren’s house on the corner, where the road split. It was the new nighttime scents perfuming the chill autumn air.

A verdant green, specific to the bushes that lined the Baggits’ front yard along the sidewalk was a favorite. It almost smelled like green olives, and I loved it.

Getting suddenly enveloped in invisible clouds of night blooming jasmine, by the Kennedy’s house, so beautiful it made me slow down and twirl.

We never smelled these while we were inside warm houses having dinner. Curfew was when porch lights and dock lights came on at dusk.

These gorgeous, heady, dusk laden, petrichor notes that made the flickering street lamp darkness even more foreign and delicious, making the everyday, new and mysterious and spooky. Well, spooky for a 6 year old in a black cotton McCall’s pattern cat costume, with jaunty ears and self applied moms-mascara whiskers.

(I was very proud of those artless lines)

I loved these smells. These special occasion, out in the dark, past my bedtime, smells. They started as dark green garden, earth, and wet-street notes, chill breezes and pines, then as my orange pumpkin bucket hoard grew, it mixed with chocolate and candy, Necco wafer anise, caramel and sweet tarts. It was magical.

And those Warren boys in the big house where the road split, hung cloth and gauze ghosts from the tree branches and the whole place gave off an air of chaos and mischief. There were a trio of brothers, who dressed as scarecrows and held that big candy bowl like frozen props, waiting to pick just the right sized kid to jump scare. Thankfully, it was never me. Then safely home, my bucket brimming with treasure, and stories to tell. Nose still cold, as I sorted my favorites on the carpet before bed, happy and feeling successful. A kid's blissful sleep of the new candy-wealthy.

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