The Wild Hunt

The wild hunt flung itself through the nearly 400 year old streets of Stoneham last night. On sleepy Chestnut, in the shadow of Nobility Hill, the winds started with the dark. The rain came as I tucked my children into bed. I put my youngest not in his own nursery room, but rather at the side of my bed. The dark crag of a dead tree shadows his room, and I feared that it would not stand the night.

Adam and I watched the first episode of Stranger Things II with old friends. They were staying with us in those awkward in-between times, when you’ve sold one home and not yet closed on your new one. Their moving van was parked across the street, well away from the oak with its spreading limbs.

We turned off the lights and I laid in bed listening to the breathing of my son and husband, until the wild wailing of winds and roaring of waters drowned them out. I listened a long time before I fell asleep.

At 4 in the morning, still very dark, a horn sounded. Not once, but continuously. Adam got our friends up in case it was the rental truck (sort of thing a rental truck would do!) but it wasn’t. The lashing rains were abating, but far from gone. It was our neighbors down the street, whose car had just up and decided to honk without ceasing.

We’d just settled in after that when Tiberius began setting up an awful yowl. He moaned at our door, scratching, begging, persistent. Twenty minutes of trying to pretend I couldn’t hear him, and I got up and locked him in the bathroom.

I’d just drifted off when Thane bolted upright on the floor and flung himself out of the room. Adam called after him. “I had a nightmare. It was about cannibals.” I snuggled my little boy as the winds calmed down.

Then the horn went off again. The storm being over, I moved to my son’s room to attempt to get an hour’s more sleep before the day started.

It was like this for the whole street. Another neighbor’s smoke detectors went off in the middle of the night for no reason. A tree dropped on the car of a neighbor further down the street. The entire region seemed blanketed in every last leaf, small branch or needle that could be wrested from a tree. Throughout my commute rotting wood had been dashed to the ground.

All Hallow’s Eve is Tuesday. But the spirits will be quiet – they already had their ride last night. And that old dead tree, overlooking my son’s bedroom, is still standing with a red X now painted on its heart.

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The archtype of the holiday

As my eldest son enters into the age of memory, I often wonder what he will recall in his adulthood, and what parts of our life will slip into the background of memory. Periodically, I hope he won’t remember some things — the times I lose my temper or fail to listen. But oh, I hope he remembers this Halloween. More, I hope that forever after, when he thinks of Halloween the imprint on his imagination will be from this Halloween. It was perfect. I can’t imagine a better one.

This is joy
This is joy

Halloween morning started wonderfully. It was an unusually warm and seasonable day, with fast-moving clouds and downright balmy temperatures. While his father and brother slept, Grey and I wandered around our neighborhood, chasing a wind-driven balloon through crunching autumn leaves and chatting with neighbors.
Eating to keep up their strength
Eating to keep up their strength

Once the eldest and youngest boys were up, we went to the Middlesex Fells Reservation to go on a hike. We hiked through the autumnal forest, stopping for a snack to reward our efforts, and finally (just past the Doleful Pond) found the playground. The boys laughed with joy on the swings, chased each other through the grass and showed great bravery at the slides.
Swings!
Swings!

Slide!
Slide!

We went home for lunch and I got a massage. Ok, maybe that wasn’t part of THEIR great day but it was part of MINE.

I made cookies in the kitchen, and when the time came, we woke both boys up from their naps, poured them into their costumes, put a bowl of candy on the front stoop, and headed to our neighbor’s house. We’re completely lucky to have really neat neighbors, with kids that all line up. There’s three boys in the older generation, and then three babies — Thane is the oldest of the babies. The older boys played with sounds that made it seem like at least two of them were in the processes of being killed, Thane bopped between groups, and the littler babies focussed their energies on looking adorable. The grownups had conversation and shared tips and discussed the goings-on of our neighborhood and our busy schedules. Candy was doled out.

The kids miraculously all together
The kids miraculously all together

Fast clouds crossed the full moon in the warm autumn night air when the boys headed out for their trick-or-treating. The swirl of leaves flickered across the warm glow of jack-o-lanterns and porch lights. As a group, they braved doorbells and held out bags and buckets to receive their chocolatey loot. They returned triumphant from their quests, and generous in their plenty — sharing the fine fruits of their labors with hungry parents. The littlest boy went to bed, and all the babies, and then those grownups of us left got together and played Rock Band while our older sons (can you believe it?) entertained themselves without injury in another room.

When we finally put our chocolate-smudged eldest child into his bed, he was happy to find sleep beneath his nightlights.

What joy, my friends. What joy.

Halloween

Yesterday was a big day in our household. We had two big things going on… my inlaws arrived at 2:30 at the airport (yay for other grownups to help out!) and Trick Or Treating. We did not have Grey’s Halloween costume ready to go before Thane arrived (I know — poor planning!), but my husband did Yoeman labor and pulled together an amazing robot costume.

I angry robot!
I angry robot!

Just one problem. Grey refused to wear it. Oh well.

We’d been invited to our neighbor’s house to meet our other neighbors and get all our kids together before (maybe) trick or treating. Given the time constraints, I hadn’t actually, you know, told them that I’d had the baby. I just showed up with him in his pumpkin costume and watched to see how long it would take them to notice. It was pretty funny, actually. It took about 5 minutes. I got major points for being capable of being out and mobile so quickly post-partum. (The new neighbor I met is also pregnant. She said I gave her hope!) I was offered a glass of wine. Amazing! To be able to have an adult beverage! The menfolk took the boys out to get candy, and we women-folk did an impromptu tour of each other’s houses. It was very fun. We also discussed doing some babysitting swaps. Would that rule or what? Anyway, that was a lot of fun!

Thane is a wonderful child and extremely easy to deal with, compared to both my memories of Grey at that age and Grey now. Grey is actually being really good, but he’s very prone to big meltdowns (understandably). He really, really, really likes his little brother. He wants Thane included in all activities and often wants to hold and hug him, which he does very nicely. I love watching that.

Thane’s only issue is that he is apparently nocturnal. I know this is not unusual for 4 day olds, but he didn’t sleep AT ALL for the night hours last night. Moreover, he wasn’t even happy awake, even when he was being held by mommy. No, he was grumpy-awake. (Maybe he had gas?) Fortunately, there were three adults taking turns with him so by this morning, I think we had all had nearly enough sleep. (I, for one, got up at noon. But in fairness to me, I’m also the only one who has to be present every 2 hours or less to feed him, and I took at least two of the “long shifts” with him last night.)

So far, this is all working out. I’m enjoying it, even. I love both my sons dearly and devotedly. I do wish that my eldest was less ‘splodey, but it’s only to be expected. At least he’s currently getting spoiled devotion from his grandparents!

And here’s the littlest one in his Halloween getup:

The boys on Halloween
The boys on Halloween