Oh, How the Seasons Do Change

October has arrived.

I do enjoy Autumn—picking apples and buying freshly made cider donuts from local orchards. There’s nothing quite as wonderful as a mug full of hot apple cider steeped with Mulling Spices. The Fall foliage, too, is breathtaking. I hope, as one reader (thank you bloomlover!) suggested, to take a ride through the Adirondacks, bring my camera with me, and try to capture some of that beauty.

When I was a child, my family would travel to Covey Hill in Quebec, Canada to pick apples. The orchard there seemed enormous! Year after year, it was busy with smiling, laughing families and couples. I remember bringing home more apples than we could eat before they spoiled—which meant Mom would bake pies and apple crisp just to use them up. The house would smell absolutely delicious.

Also delicious, was all of the Halloween candy we would score while trick-o-treating. Perhaps the most magical memory I have of Halloween involves my mom, one of my aunts, my brother, and two of my cousins. I was still in Elementary School at the time and I can’t remember what my costume was; my brother might have been batman. As we were going door-to-door asking for candy, we came across several black kittens. They were prowling the sidewalk in front of a little house.

I remember wanting one of those kittens more than another candy bar or lollipop. Of course, I didn’t get one. I couldn’t just scoop one up into my pumpkin candy bucket…but, just to be clear, it would have fit.

Someday, I’ll have a black cat. I think I’ll name him Simon.

As the weather grows colder, and the days shorter, it is important to remember those people, places, things that warm your heart. The very word “warmth” conjures memories of my parents’ wood stove. Nearly every Sunday afternoon, my mother would cook a pork roast in the crock-pot. Its savory scent would permeate the entire house. I think of curling up on a comfortable chair, wrapped in a blanket, and reading a new book.

This year, I’ll be doing that in front of our natural gas fireplace. I’ll probably have to share the recliner with Luna (which is not as easy as it used to be since she’s now 6-months old and pushing 45 pounds). She’s grown up so fast!

Hanging from the fireplace’s mantle, though, is something else that warms my heart—a wreath that my mother made for me.

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I adore the scarecrow in the center of the wreath. The little guy brings a smile to my face.

I hope, Dear Readers, that you, too, are finding things to smile about as the seasons change. Take a moment to marvel at the beauty and the magic that still inhabit this world. Enjoy it. Store it up like squirrels and chipmunks hide acorns and pilfered bird food.

There’s a Boston appointment waiting for me this week. It includes 7 vaccinations (all inactive viruses, I believe). Please continue to send prayers, love and light. They are so very appreciated.

 

With Love & Gratitude,

Laura

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Still an Elf

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There is something truly magical about Halloween—and I am not referring to ghouls, goblins or foaming, green potions. I am, simply, lauding the fact that Halloween is the one night of the year that we are each invited to stretch our sorely underutilized imaginations and be whatever it is that we want to be.

We can save the world as firefighters or superheroes.

We can be our polar opposites and don the masks of villains.

Or, we can reconnect with the parts of ourselves that we thought were gone, lost when the world turned cold and ugly.

For me, the last few Halloweens have felt a bit like taking a ferry ride on a windy day. I couldn’t find my sea legs; I couldn’t find a costume that really felt like home. I tried ascribing my uneasiness to the fact that I was branching out—replacing my usual elvish and princess costumes with devil horns and sparkly tops. And, yes, the high heels fit, but it didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel like me.

One of the hardest parts of cancer survivorship to grasp—and live with—is the way in which it impacts your sense of self, your sense of worth. Even after your hair grows back and the scars begin to pale, it’s hard to see beauty in the mirror. It’s hard to see anything, really, beyond the ghost of bandages and hospital gowns. The eyes that stare back at you cannot see the teenage version of you that dressed up as Arwen from Lord of the Rings. Those eyes no longer belong to the little girl that, for nearly every Halloween, was some version of a princess.

It was with this thought in mind—that I could never be a princess, never be an elf again—that I prepared for this Halloween weekend. I needed a costume, preferably a cheap costume, and yet no matter how many times I searched Pinterest, nothing was really speaking to me.

And, just as the panic was starting to settle in to stay, I found one of my elf ears.

The ear was sitting atop my old desk, inconspicuous among a stack of well-worn books and pens, as if I had simply taken it off and forgotten to put it away. I knew, even as I picked the ear up, that I couldn’t be Arwen. I was missing an ear and, even if Arwen’s silvery dress still fit, there was no way I could step into that role. Arwen was beautiful. She glowed. And what did I look like? What did I do? I had circles under my eyes from not sleeping well and scars from procedures that Arwen’s character would have never even heard of.

No, I couldn’t be Arwen.

But I could be an elf…missing an ear…if I donned a head bandage splattered with faux blood.

It’s silly-sounding, I know, but there was peace in parting my hair and pinning it up like an elf’s. There was something grounding about watching my face transform in the mirror, glowing gold and silver with make-up. There was something empowering about putting on my one ear and covering the other—the missing one—with gauze.

I’m still an elf.

Maybe I can’t be Arwen anymore. Maybe I am tired now and have seen too many ugly things—but I can be the elf that went to battle. I can be banged up and bloodied, and I can still be beautiful.

Because, dear readers, that’s the magic of Halloween. We can be anything we want to be—including ourselves.