September 1, 2020: Her Perfume Smells Like Burning Leaves

Halloween Die-ary #1

I used to start the OTIS Halloween Season (and my own personal autumnal celebration) in mid-September. And I did that because of the weather. No offense to people in sunshine climes, but I can’t do a hot Halloween. And, often, even in New England, summer isn’t done slinging sweat just because I flipped a calendar page.

But I changed mostly out of peer pressure. Other sites and the socials were celebrating it earlier and earlier, and I couldn’t watch that without joining in. The socials ruin everything.

So every September 1, I’m a little scared that I’ll toss out the OTIS Halloween Season banner and then have to use it as a beach towel.

This year, it’s a good decision. September 1st (and the few days leading up to it) were pleasantly cool. So much so, that for the first time, we kicked off our personal Halloween season, not at a restaurant with Fall cocktails or inside with a scary movie like we often do, but outside…and I can thank COVID for that. Thank you, COVID.

One of my lockdown projects was to build a firepit in the backyard, although build is an overbuilt word, in this case. Somebody dropped off the blocks and I stacked them in a circle.

When I first built the thing, we made a fire every night for a week (I live on the edge of a forest and there’s plenty of deadwood for impromptu fires). But then it got hot and we avoided the firepit like fire. But that’s fine. Really, it was built for this season. Meanwhile, in preparation, I chainsawed trunks and axed rounds and made a stack of wood that a mouse now lives in. I earned my New Hampshire driver’s license.

So tonight, for the first time in two months, we lit a fire in our COVID pit. We roasted marshmallows, watched the bats in their nightly circuit above us, felt the night drop faster than it’s dropped for a while…and drank Halloween whiskey.

It’s made by Shipyard, the same Maine brewery that makes the omnipresent-this-time-of-year Pumpkinhead Ale. It uses the same branding as Pumpkinhead Ale, but is called Fred’s, after the brewery’s founder. And it’s distilled from grains and hops, so I think that makes it weird? I don’t know. I don’t like beer and I rarely do whiskey. However, you throw a pumpkin-headed rider on a spirit, and I’ll drink it. So we tried that in the light of the fire under the bats. I…didn’t like. Two tastes and I was rummaging in the cabinet for martini fixings. Lindsey seemed to like it. She described it as sipping whiskey with a pumpkin beer aftertaste, and immediately started ideating Fall cocktail recipes with it that, honestly, sounded pretty good. So we probably haven’t seen the last of that bottle this season.

Oh, and Big Face joined us. He’s the mascot of this year’s OTIS Halloween Season. I haven’t introduced him to you yet. Stay tuned, though.

In conclusion, I can’t wait to burn leaves.