Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins…you may have noticed pumpkins and Halloween merchandise slowly filling up the aisles of our favorite stores. Soon, my friends, soon!
While Fall doesn’t officially start until September 23, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the plentiful, wondrous bounty of autumn today. The folks over at Acorns & Custard feel us, and I found a delicious Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin Hand Pie recipe, to go along with our pumpkin spice lattes. Bring on the gourds!
blazing orange fire autumn spoils on the ground more to the story
I dedicate today’s blog in honor of World Photography Day.
I was immediately spellbound by the imagery of this photo that I stumbled upon over a year ago. A few more clicks led me to a fascinating story about photographer Joel Sternfeld, who one day, came upon this fiery scene in McLean, W. Virginia, and snapped the now-iconic photo.
In the photo, we see a fireman shopping for a pumpkin, while a farmhouse burns in the background, a few hundred yards away. In his arms, the fireman clutches his prize, presumably the best of the bunch. In the foreground, dozens of rotting pumpkins spoil and wither away, in what we could consider, Autumn’s last kiss. Amongst the barren trees, the burning farmhouse roof rages like a fiery inferno, yet, the fireman seems undeterred. On this day, the hero’s quest is not put out a fire, but to pick out a pumpkin.
The photo simply titled “McLean, Virginia; December 1978” was first published for Life Magazine in Fall of 1988. It would later serve as the cover for his 1994 book American Prospects, a visual color chronicle of the life and landscapes of America during in 1980s. For many years, the photo floated around the American consciousness, via magazines and journals, without context. When taken at face value, the photo of an American fireman ignoring his duty to peruse a pumpkin patch is quite flabbergasting, some people thought it so incredulous, they believed the photo was staged.
It was neither.
The truth is, the farmhouse fire was a controlled training exercise and the fireman was on a break. That is the scene that Joel Sternfeld photographed while driving cross-country in his VW campervan, under a Guggenheim Fellowship, looking for America’s truth. He kept mum on the details for decades, until opening up for 2004 interview on photography for the Guardian. In the interview, Sternfeld argues photographers are their own authors, capable of manipulations. They can turn the camera at different angles or leave out parts entirely, and tell whatever story they want to tell. Photography has always been about interpretation. That’s what makes it art. In the article, Sternfeld says,
“No individual photo explains anything. That’s what makes photography such a wonderful and problematic medium. It is the photographer’s job to get this medium to say what you need it to say. Because photography has a certain verisimilitude, it has gained a currency as truthful – but photographs have always been convincing lies.”
For years, the worldwide public has relied on pictures to be evidence and visual aids in understanding. A picture says a thousand words. But what or whose truth are we seeing?
As we celebrate World Environment Day, here’s ten things that will help save the environment this Halloween.
Not just a Jack-o’-lantern
Don’t let your pumpkin guts go to waste. Save the seeds and bake them for an awesome snack. Use the flesh to make puree or pumpkin juice, or even eat it raw. Check for recipes online. You can also freeze pumpkin and use it later to make sides, pies and other holiday desserts.
Happy Walpurgisnacht! We are halfway to Halloween and another long, hot, miserable summer is just around the corner. Last year, around this time, I shared with you 10 Things to Do When It’s Not Halloween. Sometimes, we tend to focus on the bad so much that we forget to concentrate on the good, like the fact there are plenty of Halloweenesque activities to do to keep us happy until October.
Plant a pumpkin
The Pumpkin is the ultimate symbol of Halloween. It’s the heralded icon. The shepherd of the holiday. One could argue it’s the whole reason that Halloween even exists. Planting your own pumpkin can be rewarding in a number of ways. For starters, you’re doing something nice for the environment. Your pumpkin can be insecticide and chemical-free. Second, it might be more economical than buying a pumpkin at the store, particularly if you live in rural areas. Next, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that gardening relieves stress. Watching your little pumpkin grow makes you happy. That alone is totally worth it. Next, you can brag about it on your Instagram and social media. Create a photo album tracking your pumpkins growth. Lastly, you’ll have an amazing pumpkin to carve into a jack-o’-lantern by Halloween!
Lemax and Department 56 are awesome, no doubt about it, but they’re also a little pricy. Why not try and create your own Halloween village? Everything you need, ceramics, materials, and the tutorials that teach DIYers how to create certain looks with paint, can all be found online. Likewise, you can find paint, brushes and other materials at your local arts and crafts stores. You can paint your own ceramic haunted house and knick-knacks, or add new items to storebought villages piecemeal.
Bonus: Painting ceramics can be a soothing way to relax and hone in your concentration skills
ABC’s dark gothic soap opera Dark Shadows featuring vampires, witches, ghosts, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, aired 30-minute episodes on weekdays from 1966-1971.
The first season sluggishly produced efficient melodrama, romance, and the usual family squabbles, as found in a typical daytime soap, until introducing the charismatic, creepy, and somewhat sexy character of Barnabas Collins, a centuries-old vampire played by Jonathan Frid. From that point, the show became his show and Frid’s portrayal of the powerful Barnabas helped boost audience viewership and eventually, made him a horror icon.
Create your own Halloween florals
You can certainly wait for fall to buy some artificial autumn florals or black roses, but it’s always been my belief that some fake flowers are “fuller” than others, during different times of the year. This is certainly just an opinion, based on no facts whatsoever, but if we always paid attention to facts, we’d have no fun at all!
For those of you looking to dye real flowers black, the good people over at Florist Chronicles have put together one of the most comprehensive tutorials on how to create black flowers that I’ve ever seen. Check it out: www.floristchronicles/2011/create-black-flowers
Create a spooky centerpiece
After you create some black florals, you may need a haunted vase to put them in. You can turn any dollar store vessel into a gothic or Halloween centerpiece with some black paint, a glue gun, some fake spiders and other Halloween objects.
Cemeteries are lovely quiet little places, open all year around. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting under a tree and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature of a cemetery in the springtime, a time when the flowers and trees are in full bloom. There’s something meaningful, even bit ironic, about so much life flourishing among the dead. Just when you thought your little goth heart didn’t like pastels.
Go early and you’ll have a chance to photograph the gravestones before the morning mist burns off, or try in the late afternoon to catch those eerie shadows falling over the tombstones.
Happy Spring! Wiccans and pagans celebrate the vernal equinox in the Northern hemisphere, the time when light and dark are balanced again. Now, I know that sunshine and flowers don’t exactly scream Halloween, nor appease goth lovers, but if nothing else, we are moving one step closer to Halloween, and that’s cause for celebration.
The Germanic goddess of spring and dawn returns. This girl knows how to party. She loves festivals, feasting, drinking, and sex! Sex leads to babies and she is all about that. Ostara first showed up around the 8th century during festivals celebrating the vernal equinox. Details of actual worship are sketchy, but by the time the 19th century rolled around, she had become a permanent fixture in Germanic mythology. She represents fertility, healing, and rebirth, and is depicted as a radiant woman of childbearing years, wreathed or covered with blooming flowers, surrounded by rabbits, hares and other wildlife, and she brings absolute joy to those around her. One cannot go wrong planting some seeds or painting some eggs in her honor.