Skeletons In The Fields

Elder Taoist
Reciprocal
Published in
6 min readOct 25, 2022

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Honouring the dead, country style!

Halloween farmer harvesting pumpkins. (Author’s photo)

In North and South America from October 31 through November 2 there are various celebrations related to the dead.

Halloween on October 31 is primarily a USA and Canada event, though the Irish and Scots also participate. Originally known as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve, it is held on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints Day. It is a time dedicated to remembering the dead.

With pagan roots from the Celtic tradition of Samhain, some believe that the early Christian church tried to adapt an existing pagan holiday to the purposes of the Church.

The Day of the Dead, held on November 1 with celebrations continuing into November 2, originally began in Mexico. It has since spread throughout Latin America. While associated with All Saints Day, it is a more joyful celebration of remembrance of those who have passed.

Originally the North American celebrations on October 31 took the form of an opportunity for children to dress up in costume and visit neighbours who generally gave them treats. Over the years it became more and more commercialized and became more of an adult party occasion. While children still have their events, adult costumes and adult themed parties have become big business. At least in the bigger cities.

In the little town where I live, the child-centered focus of Halloween continues alive and well. Actually, calling it a town is a bit grandiose. I live on a small island in the Gulf Islands on the west coast of Canada. It is connected to another slightly bigger island by a bridge. Access to the islands is by ferry, so it is mostly pretty isolated. Particularly during stormy winter weather.

We don’t really have a town centre as such. On the bigger island, there is a small shopping area with a dozen or so small businesses. And there are a few other businesses spread out around the island. The businesses are basic services: grocery store, hardware store, book store, liquor store, gas station, bakery, restaurant, and pub. Not much else. Even the one hotel is only open six months of the year.

There is little entertainment as such except for what islanders put on for themselves at the community centre. During the winter months, it is pretty quiet. Given that the average age of the population is about 65 years old, that sort of slow-moving, quiet culture seems to work well.

There are a few holidays that the islanders do enjoy. Halloween is one of them. It is an opportunity for families with children to gather and participate in group activities. Houses are so far apart on the island that door-to-door visits are not that practical, unlike in cities where there can be a hundred houses in a few blocks.

There is one family here on the island that really enjoys the Halloween season. They spend a lot of time with their children making and setting up Halloween dioramas along a walking path for the entertainment of all.

I spoke with one of the family members and she explained that this year the plan was for there to be treats for the children at one end of the trail and perhaps along the path as well. However, the main entertainment will be the various physical vignettes that they have set up. I took pictures and have shared some here.

There are a variety of movie themes within the dioramas. For example, there is the Jurassic Park theme:

Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing a jeep that is stealing her egg. (Author’s photo)
Egg stealing jeep trying to outrun a T. Rex. (Author’s photo)
Interloper treed by sabre tooth tigers. (Author’s photo)

And there’s the Star Wars theme:

Crashed X wing Starfighter complete with skeleton in the cockpit. (Author’s photo)
Jawas hiding in the bushes. (Author’s photo)
Darth Vader running for election on a law and order platform. (Author’s photo)
Obi-Wan Kenobi running for election against Darth Vader. (Author’s photo)

There’s a knight and dragon theme:

Knight facing off against a winged dragon. (Author’s photo)
Baby dragons playing with skulls of unsuccessful knights. (Author’s photo)

There’s the Pirates of the Caribbean theme:

Sinking pirate ship. (Author’s photo)
Pirate climbing onto a barrel to get away from a shark. (Author’s photo)
What’s a pirate scene without a bar wench? (Author’s photo)

Then there are the more traditional motifs:

Female ghost. (Author’s photo)
Dogs howling at the moon. (Author’s photo)
Cat chasing a rat. (Author’s photo)
Skeleton circus. Note the warning sign! (Author’s photo)
Banjo music hay ride. (Author’s photo)
Lost aliens with a crashed space ship. (Author’s photo)
And finally, what is Halloween without a skeleton sun bathing with pink flamingos? (Author’s photo)

I’ve never seen anything this imaginative or this much fun in a city. In most places, if these items had been left out where anyone could get at them, they would have been stolen in no time. Not here.

This is one of those places where people don’t worry much about locking their doors. It doesn’t mean there is no crime, but it is so rare and so minor that it is hardly noticed.

I love living in this slice of paradise!

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

I am frequently inspired by other writers on Medium. Here are some I’ve particularly enjoyed reading recently:

Last month

posted an article that does a wonderful job of explaining the power and importance of kindness in one’s life. It was likely the best article I read this past week, which is saying a lot because there are some truly fine writers on Medium!

shared an excellent article on the importance of learning critical thinking skills for oneself and passing those skills on to your children.

If you are a mathematics aficionado like me,

has created a list of ten recent mathematics books that are worth reading. I found several that appeal to me. This will make Christmas shopping easier for my wife!

I wish to thank new people who recently chose to follow me and my writing. Your interest encourages me to continue writing.

, , , ,

Thank you for following me.

Additionally I would like to thank people who recently commented on my writing. Given the changes going on at Medium it is unclear when and how individual articles are distributed, hence this list of tags. If any of you would like to be excluded from my tags in future, please, please let me know!

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

And finally, I want to thank

, , and who, as the editors of Reciprocal, for the incredible support they provide to writers.

I wish you well!

The Elder Taoist ☯

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Elder Taoist
Reciprocal

Septuagenarian Autistic/Asperger with HSP and OCD tendencies. Does math for fun. Endlessly curious about connectedness of nature, from stars to trees to bugs.