September 1, 2019: Getting the Jack-O-Lantern Rolling


I’m a full day into the OTIS Halloween Season and it feels surreal. I think it has to do with kicking the whole thing off on a three-day weekend that has one sandal'd foot in August and one booted foot in September. Meanwhile, the socials and the stores have been celebrating the season since like July, and everyone who doesn’t treat the established calendar like they’re Julius Caesar is using the Labor Day holiday to squeeze one last beach trip into their lives before things go from sweaty to sweatery.

So we decided to lean right on into the surreal.

We spent the last day of August at a 60-year-old Christmas-themed amusement park in northern New Hampshire, before stopping off at a Halloween-themed ice cream parlor. And then spent the first day of September in a much lower gear.

I won’t delve into Santa’s Village (I did that last year), but Lindsey has never been there, so we decided to jump in the old sleigh and party like it’s December 1st. On the way back, we stopped on the other side of the White Mountains to a new store called Tricks & Treats in North Conway, which is a year-round Halloween store, plus a general novelty store, plus an ice cream parlor. It’s next door to and owned by the same people who own the year-round, immersive, amazing Christmas store called the Christmas Loft. I’ve written about that before, too. But let’s stop linking to Christmas and get back to the Halloween Season.


As a result of all that driving and roller-coastering, we kept September first low-key. Wait. This is a Halloween blog. Low-skeleton-key, easing into the season like stepping into an Autumn party where you’re not sure if it was a costume party or not, but you had erred on the side of Ziggy Stardust.

First, we hit up Spirit and Michaels, even though I think we’re the last of the Samhain-fearin’ sort to do so this year. Our Spirit is in our old Toys R Us (RIP). By this time in the decay process of that brand, everything Toys R Ussian has been scoured from the store except for some floor decals.


As to the store, Spirit is Spirit. I rarely buy stuff from there (I don’t need a costume and I don’t run a home haunt), but I do step on a lot of floor-pads and squeal with delight when things leap at me. This year, I was looking forward to checking out their haunted aquarium setup, but all the video screens were frozen on menus, which, as a guy who sits in front of a computer a lot is kinda scary, I guess.

And then it was Micheals. Michaels is Michaels. We didn’t buy anything from there, either. We’ve actually bought less and less from there over the years. Unsure why, honestly, but I don’t feel like analyzing that now.

We arrived home to a package from my father back in Maryland. He’d scooped up a handful of dollar store Halloween novelties and shipped them to us. I didn’t buy anything at Spirit or at Michaels, but seven dollars’ worth of dollar store plastic turned a corner of my life into this:


After the kids were asleep in bed (or snugly under the covers with their glowing iPads—same thing), Lindsey and I toasted the beginning of the season with a scented candle, some candy corn, a spooky show, and bottle of—get this—Pioneer Pumpkin wine.

I don’t know if you remember a few years back, but we once welcomed the season with pumpkin wine from Maine…and hated it so much we didn’t even get liquid level past the thin part of the bottle. We fully expected this to happen again but were into the gimmick. However, we were surprised to find that we loved this Pioneer Pumpkin wine with a deep, abiding love.

I think the main difference between the two was that this was grape wine, blended with pumpkin and “Autumn spices” (such a better phrase than pumpkin spice) as opposed to being out-and-out pumpkin wine. Whatever the alchemy, it was awesome. It’s made by a local vineyard, Hardwick Vineyard and Winery in Hardwick, Massachusetts. We had a second bottle from the same vineyard called Harvest Maple. We brought that out, as well, because we assumed that we’d hate them both, but we savored the Pioneer Pumpkin so much that we’re saving the other for another night.


For our night’s entertainment, I wanted to see something creepy that I hadn’t seen before. I also wanted it to scare Lindsey, as her reactions are pretty much the only reason I watch horror movies anymore. We went with the Indian series Typewriter on Netflix because of all the mainstream headlines it got last month. I was thinking it would be something along the lines of the Argentinian film Terrified or the Indonesian film Satan’s Slaves (both of which are excellently creepy), but it wasn’t that at all. At least not the first two episodes that we got through (it’s a five-episode season).

I’d almost call the tone lighthearted with brief moments of violence. Definitely not at all creepy or scary, at least not so far. And I say that objectively because Lindsey watched those first two episodes without hiding behind her hands even once. We’ll finish it some other night.

Honestly, it feels a little creaky getting the pumpkin rolling so far, but before we know it we’ll be Linus crashing it into our front steps. I have no doubt about that.

Happy start to the Halloween Season, everyone!