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My Corner of The Canyon BOO!
October 18, 2012 - By Kathy Gibboney
And suddenly its October.
Its not as if I didnt know it was coming. I tried to prepare but it seemed to sneak up. Yes, it is my favorite month but I was not ready. Although the month had changed, our calendar still read September, displaying those 30 days presided over by the childlike illustration of the girl with flowers in her hair. If I just left it unchanged would time cease to move? Would it stay September? If only.
My hand reached and turned the page to the new month of 31 days and a girl sitting under a tree of autumn leaves and though, for a moment, I felt like a God commanding the seasons, the mortal part of me cried out, No not yet, too soon, too soon! Or was it too late?
Right there at the beginning of October, in fact the second day, my Miranda would turn 14 and my little girl will be gone. Oh, maybe there remains a trace of that child girl in her round cheek or her voice over the phone but most of it has vanished, replaced by some willful teen creature intent upon its own earthly desires. And the very next day, the third day, when I would turn an unholy age, would put to rest any remaining rumors of my youth. Then the gas prices skyrocketed and the septic tank began to overflow. It was off to a scary start.
I decided to fight fire with fire. Although it felt as if it were 100 degrees outside why not put on a big pot of chili and get the Halloween boxes down early? After all, the stores have had their decorations up for well over a month. Why shouldnt I jump in too, feel ahead of the game, maybe begin wearing a costume around town each day between now and Halloween? I practically do anyway. I could be a princess (okay, granted an aging one) one day and a black cat the next, maybe wrap up the week as a unicorn or, more appropriately, an old witch. So down come the boxes.
The garage is a scary place in itself. Filled with remnants of our lives, things useless and precious from which we cannot part; old vinyl albums (how could I have married a man who liked Three Dog Night?), my mothers china, various surfboards, furniture from my childhood bedroom, painted backdrops, bikes, scooters, yard equipment, things meant for a garage sale we never have, and collections of decorations for every holiday, all draped with cobwebs.
Organization has been thrown to the wind or whatever atmosphere exists there in Garageland, ruled over jointly, I suspect, by mice and ghosts, leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, Cupid, Santa and spiders, both fake and real. Maybe, from time to time, they all dance to that awful Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog, and sip tea from the China cups while dressed in pilgrim hats. In order to spare the Beleaguered Husband any more trials then absolutely necessary, I mumble a protective prayer and venture into the garage by myself to retrieve the Halloween treasures, keeping a vigilant eye out for black widows. I duck the mouse debris and step over a lizard that scurries for shelter under a beach chair. Fortunately the boxes are labeled and I manage to pull them from the dusty shelves working my way out through the narrow path of escape, trying to avoid being scraped by the menacing and ever hungry teeth of the bicycle hub.
I open the boxes and behold the calamitous contents of orange, yellow, black, gold and green. Then I notice something truly frightening, something scarier than spiders and teenage girls, something more terrifying than owning a struggling hamburger joint in Santa Monica. I just saw all these decorations. Here they are: the fiber optic scarecrow, Mirandas talking candy dish, the mask Riley made in first grade, the flying witch, the pumpkin man, wise old owl, the tinsel spider, the fuzzy bat, all as fresh and familiar as if I had just packed them away last week. It could not have been a year, surely not a whole year has passed since they were returned to Garageland, while the tape on the living room wall for the happy ghost is still there.
If the years can now pass so swiftly, indeed gallop along at a pace to rival the lightning speed of the terrible black steed of the Headless Horseman pursuing Ichabod Crane and poor pokey Gunpowder, my time is as good as up. I, like Ichabod, will soon be overtaken and nothing will be found of me but a smashed pumpkin head and a bit of glitter.
I may as well get ready to haunt Topanga and finally, as a ghost, achieve the degree of fame I deserve. Ill headquarter in the garage. But what shape shall I effect? Which image should my phantom project? I hope to take a suitcase with me and be able to change wardrobe at will, so sightings of me might be reported as strange, beautiful lady seen wandering in white lace. Or another, ghostly figure spotted in pink sequins, or, spirit of old hippie chick in tie dye hitchhiking along Old Canyon. Ill be the Ever Changing Ghost of Fashion.
I research reports of local hauntings to know whose company I might be keeping. There is someone called The Egg Man of Topanga. He appears to be a monk of about 80 years and has manifested several times beginning in the 60s. Now why he is called The Egg Man, I do not know. Does he carry eggs, throw eggs, or Saints preserve us, smell like rotten eggs? If so, I will give him wide berth, letting him haunt his side of the road while I take the other. Then there are many Chumash sightings including a young girl in native dress. It might be pleasant to gather acorns with her. Of course, I would be honored to hang out with the ghost of John Barrymore, Jr., purported to haunt the Rodeo Grounds. I bet hed have some good tales to tell and we could always scare a couple of wayward kids smoking down there.
I have had my own ghostly encounter. I was asleep, here in Topanga, a few days after my father died. I felt someone shake me, shaking me physically as if trying to wake me. I didnt want to wake so I turned over and continued to sleep. Then I felt the shaking again, even more insistent. I opened my eyes wondering what was going on and saw a figure I thought was my husband standing near a chest of drawers. But at that moment, I realized my husband was asleep beside me in the bed. The figure standing respectfully in our room was my dear father. He stood for a moment and then softly faded. What powers allowed him to appear and what efforts he must have made to do so are beyond my knowledge, but he found a way to come into this physical world one last time to tell me goodbye and leave me with the message, Wake up!
So with what time remains I will grab at life, hold dear these fast-running autumn days. I will taste a ripe apple, notice the way the golden light filters through the oak tree, marvel at the moon over my mountain, smile at a child, hug my husband, sip deep a glass of red wine, pray with all my heart, carve yet again a pumpkin, laugh with my son, stare into cats wise eyes, kiss Miranda goodnight, count my blessings, rejoice at still being alive in this world where I may yet do some good and even sing a silly song,