/* new */

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mystery on an Autumn Night

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night
Point, the first. It wasn't the candy. Honest. I liked the candy, yes, and our neighbors were generous. (Though I was never a popcorn ball fan. Yes, those were the days when some people actually made Halloween treats and gave them away.)

Point, the second. It wasn't the dressing up. We dressed up all the time to play. And by the time I lusted after the long, gorgeous blue mantilla that a friend of the family had brought from Mexico, my elder sisters were too old for Halloween and my younger sister too little to wear the mantilla, so I pretty much got it whenever I wanted to be a princess or a dancer or a fairy queen. And, oh yes, I wanted.

Point, the third. It wasn't the tricks. Please! I was a good girl with three sisters. We never played tricks (except on each other). Besides, see point, the first, above.

Then why, you ask, was Halloween second only to Christmas Eve in dreamy deliciousness to this girl who never imagined she would become a fantasy author?

It was the dark, of course. Early sunset. And even the night's magical lights, the stars and moon, could hardly push the weight of it aside. Our flashlights and lanterns certainly couldn't. We would run down the street through the piles of oak leaves, our steps pushed just a little faster by the pooled shadows just beyond the light beams. Why does darkness cause those delicious shivers?

Vincent Van Gogh said that "the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day."

Uh-huh. He knew. There's a reason I love his "Starry Night" better than his "Sunflowers."

Certainly marvelous things can happen after sunset. Unexpected visitors. Romance. Fireworks. Escapes. Rendezvous. Kisses at the front door. Or in the garden. Or while floating down the Thames. Danae dance under the autumn moon.

But, of course, the dark can hide dangers, too. Thieves. Potholes. Spiders. How often do you read about "the Light Forest?" Ghosts, invisible in the daylight, take shape against the dark. Whispers and rustling are lost in the noisy business of day, but not in the night.

And the highwayman comes riding, riding... Wouldn't have been the same if it was noon and the road was a ribbon of asphalt.

Shapes blur. Endless possibility. Uncertainty blooms...

Ah, there it is. Uncertainty and possibility create tension, the magic ingredient in any story. It's what keeps us hooked, peeking around that next corner...or page. Night's essence is mystery.

Or perhaps Lemony Snicket said it best: "It is one of life's bitterest truths that bedtime so often arrives just when things are really getting interesting."

Read more of this post!