From a Granddad’s Halloween Journal – Ping!
By Harvey Blumenthal
Our daughter-in-law, Hilary, and grandson Noah, then three and one-half, flew into Tulsa from Salt Lake City the day before Halloween, 2004. The day was warm and sunny, and Noah, Hil and I put up a spider-web on the holly bushes in front and added black streamers around the door. Later, Noah and I played with Lincoln logs, cars, and toys. Noah liked trains, so I had previously taught him the Tommy Dorsey 1940s hit tune, “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” and we listened to this while we played with toy trains.
After dinner, while Sandy and Hil picked up our son, John, who was flying in from a business trip on the east coast, Noah and I played “airplanes.” He told me I was a Delta.
Using our long-handled hand sweeper as a “tug” attached to my belt loop, Noah backed me up from the “gate,” then at his signal I ran down the hallway— err, runway, with my arms spread to take off.
We stepped out onto the patio to listen to the water tumbling down in the wall fountain, ran around on the grass with our arms spread, looked up at the beautiful bright full autumn moon and saw repeated flashes of lightning in the distant southern sky. We heard the occasional ping of acorns striking the cedar shingles, falling from the tall native Blackjack oak trees that formed a canopy over the roof. Then, while lying on the grass, we watched low gray clouds glide past overhead. Each time the wind picked up, we listened to the rat-tat-tat of pings from showers of acorns dislodged by the breeze.
Somehow, that experience was magical, and forevermore I think of that night with Noah when I hear the acorns begin to fall in autumn.
After dinner, Halloween night, we used the pumpkin carving set Grandma Sandy had bought that day, and we carved a jack o’ lantern. I carved out the top, cleaned out the fibers and pumpkin seeds, then Noah and John carved the round eyes that Noah requested—with a triangle nose, and a toothy grin. With a little difficulty, I placed a candle inside the pumpkin, lit it, turned out the kitchen lights, and we all walked outside so we could look through the window to see our pumpkin glowing on the kitchen table.
A light drizzle began when Noah, in his Spiderman costume, Hilary, John and I made the rounds in our neighborhood. Noah, a little shy initially, spoke up more loudly with Daddy’s urging, “Trick or Treat!”
That candle in the jack o’ lantern lasted until late at night. While all the others were asleep, I sat at the table and glanced at the pumpkin while I wrote about these two days in my journal.
For more from Harvey Blumenthal: A GRAND Day at Yankee Stadium and The Delightful Duties of Grandfathers