Halloween is fast approaching, and oh my goodness, it’s a big big deal here. Now it’s been creeping over to Europe for the last 5 years or so, but whatever I’ve seen there is nothing compared to here. You can’t walk down the road (not that anybody really walks down the road anyway) without being visually bombarded with witches on broomsticks, gigantic spiders in spiderwebs covering whole houses (and the houses here are big), inflatable black cats and skeletons on rooftops etc. F LOVES it all. She’s planned four costume changes for Halloween day alone, including make-up, and is constantly manically cackling to herself. This is her thing, Christmas has nothing on Halloween. But of course, being in the States, and in particular in law suit-crazy California, there are guidelines to Halloween, which are posted everywhere, and which the kids get in their backpacks from school. These include nuggets of wisdom such as:
1) If your child is frightened by any aspect of the holiday, it is important that you remove him from the scary situation (Really? Will that help?).
2) If the costume is too long or doesn’t fit snugly, children might trip and fall (Hm, hadn’t thought of that before).
3) For chilly weather, especially if the costume material is somewhat thin, add an extra layer or two underneath, such as a long-sleeved t-shirt, and long johns (ok).
4) Head, face, hands, ears and feet can be especially susceptible to the cold (no kidding). Add a hat, scarf, ear muffs, warm gloves, and/or an extra pair of socks. These “just in case” extra items can be stashed at the bottom of the Trick or Treat bag and pulled out when needed.
I’ll stop here. You get the picture.

And then there’s the pumpkin thing. Everybody obsesses about pumpkins right now (including me). Whole farms dedicate themselves to pumpkins in fall, and it’s quite a pretty sight, all those orange globes dotted around the countryside. We stopped on our way back home to get some, from an organic pumpkin patch, for decorating purposes and happily started piling them up in a wheelbarrow. Until S went to find out how much it’d cost, and we hastily dumped our bounty back in the patch. I’m not paying $40 for a single, not even that massive, pumpkin. And off we went to the supermarket, where they throw them at you for a tenth of that prize. A lot of people go to those patches though, and do the whole organic, fair trade, support local businesses thing, because that’s what you do in California. Food is everything in this state, and I don’t mean fast food, surfboard sized steaks and buckets of soda. Californians are OBSESSED with the quality, political correctness, sourceability (is there such a word? can’t think of a better one) and overall “goodness” of food. Which is really nice, as I’ve never seen such a huge variety of fresh, local produce, or so many farmers markets selling it. It’s become a favourite weekend pastime to visit local farmers markets and stock up on weird and wonderful things, which (unlike pretty much anything else) are not even that crazily priced. It’s foodie heaven, and no wonder I’m slowly beginning to bust the seams of my skinny jeans…

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