Almost Halloween

comments: 45

































Late-October glow. We go to pumpkin patches and ride hay wagons. I forget what the birds sound like over the fields in the early mornings until this, this one early morning per year that I'm here. Our house sits so squarely, so solidly within the grid of our neighborhood that I can't ever see the sunrise or the sunset for all the houses and trees. Especially in the fall, I long for the farm-fields and furrows. We drive north, to Sauvie Island: It's our annual pumpkin-patch morning with dear friends and their darling children. The fields are slick with mud. The pumpkins are past their prime, and threaten to collapse at any moment. The fog lingers, then lifts, and leaves: It's perfect. The kids squat and pull tiny worms from the ground, having a long, private toddler conversation we can't hear. We get kettle corn and carving kits and caramel apples and, afterward, we all go down to the brewpub for lunch, and I wish that every day could be this one.

Mimi requests a purple fairy princess costume. I flail my way around long pieces of polyester chiffon, wrap pipe-cleaner-crown braids with ribbon and roses, iron sheets of cellophane over soft wire wings with every type of joy I know. How long I've waited to love Halloween! She wears her costume to school on a Tuesday. I am delightedly shocked to pick her up at 1:00 to find that she is still wearing it. Wings crooked, flower crown low on her forehead, it's all held up well but for one small rip in the front of the gown, and her eyes are bright with excitement. With the school, on Wednesday, we go to another pumpkin patch. It's so muddy that I, with my reconstructed foot, can't walk on anything but the most-dry, mostly flat surfaces, trying with all my might not to face-plant in front of the entire preschool while carrying an enormous camera. I photograph them all bumping along on the hayride, Mimi waving and Andy smiling wildly. The teachers' and parents' faces are as joyous as the children's. How sweet it all is. The rain holds off and the preschoolers run around the play area. Mimi darts and races, shrieking with glee, her usual language of happiness. Riding the mini-carousel, she waves and rocks and wants to go around again. Later, four of them sit in the dried-corn sandbox, running their hands through bright-yellow kernels and I know they'd happily sit there for ages, if only it weren't almost time to go. How grateful I am to be here, listening to their voices in the corn maze and watching geese fly low overhead.

This weekend, we're hosting the neighborhood pumpkin-carving party. I've spent this afternoon making my dad's chili and chicken-with-wild-rice soup, listening to Pavement radio on Pandora with the back door flung open. It's sunny again. I remember a conversation I had with my dad the October before he passed away. He was telling me about a Halloween party he and my mom had gone to years before, before I was born. "What did you go as?" I asked him. "A secret agent," he said and we giggled, and I was filled with a sadness I could hardly bear to feel. Our neighbors are our friends, and they'll walk over with beers, bread, and salads on Sunday. Ten adults, nine kids, one baby. Along with the chili and soup, I'm making hot-dog mummies, spider-topped English-muffin pizzas, apple monsters, and pumpkin cupcakes for the kids. I need to figure out what I'm going to carve on my pumpkin. I hope I have enough bowls. I can't wait to have everyone here.


Hot dog mummies? Must know more! I think you should also have cider. Mulled with fragrant spices. That's a nice accompaniment to the wet leaf and moist earth smell outside.

oh my goodness, alicia. brilliant ab-sol-ute-ly brilliant. first i need to thank andy for wearing his cubs hat. the one on my head right now is over 40 years old. (top of the 5th. no score.) my birthday is sunday. it's called beggar's night. my father always told me that someone put me in their bag. fathers can be so...well, you know. i miss mine, too. what a beautiful costume. autumn is the best season. thank you for a beautiful post, as always.

I saw a cute idea for little people to 'carve' their own jack o lantern. Use cookie cutters( a bat for a mouth and crescent moons for eyes) and let the kids hammer them into the hollowed out pumpkin with a rubber mallet. Very cute!

Jane Corbett says: October 28, 2016 at 07:13 PM

I love Halloween, too. Just went on a Haunted Spooky walk tonight, and loved every bit of it. When I was a child, it was a magical night, and I still feel that way.

she will be the cutest princess in the neighborhood surely! and man, i wish i could attend the pumpkin carving party for the food alone! enjoy all of this time. it's fleeting, but it's soooooooooo fun.

Happy Almost Halloween.
And thank you... Once again you raise my spirits.

Thanks for the gorgeous photos and story, Alicia. Happy Weekend! xx

Oh, the sweet memories of our parents hit us out of the blue. My parents are both gone. When I was 7 years old (I am now 64), my father went as Fidel Castro to a Halloween party. He wore his former army officer's uniform, had a fake beard and of course, a cigar. Oh my, that tells you how long Castro has ruled Cuba! Your photos are all gorgeous. I hope we can see photos of your Halloween party food!

What wonderful evocative photos.. so fun to see all the pumpkins and open fields and geese flying overhead.. truly perfect. You and Andy are crafting a wonderful life for your family. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

M. Michael Payne says: October 28, 2016 at 11:37 PM

Grandpa Larry told this one: You know why one side of a V formation of geese is longer than the other?
Because there are more geese in that line.
That is what's called a Dad Joke. You can role your eyes now. Soon as you stop laughing. Dad jokes are the worst...and the funniest because they're so dumb.
You know what the Indian said to the white man as his horse came over the hill?
Here comes my horse. (I mean seriously?)
Beth remembers all those jokes so you'll have to ask her sometime some of the best ones she remembers.

As always.... your pictures....beautiful

Ah, sweet memories. The ones that we create, the ones that unexpectedly come flooding back, knocking us for six. Your pictures, as always, are so lovely, I swear there's a whiff of autumn coming through the screen.

It's a beautiful time of year isn't it. And a lovely memory you shared. That last photo is gorgeous, and the crown so pretty. I hope you have a wonderful party. Excitement levels are building! CJ xx

Go Cubs!!

Alicia, that first picture is stunning. I would like to do a post about it on my blog if it's okay with you. Let me know.

Gee - all the little things you capture in your pics... the spider web, the rainbow, and of course all the wonderful kids and pumpkins! Love the Fall Season! So many things we want to share with our loved ones who are no longer with us, but remain in our hearts! Many of us certainly can relate. Lovely costume - wow! I bet she'll wear it for a long time and go shopping in it too! Wonderful that you are so creative! Enjoy your Halloween weekend and party!

Your fairy princess..that shot of her โ™ฅand her hairโ™ฅ

Gaรซlle says: October 29, 2016 at 06:56 AM

Dear Alicia,

A lot of weeks I noticed the marvellous little fox Amelia brings with her everywhere. Waiting for my third little boy, I would be exceptionnaly happy if you could tell me where he's come from, I'm really in love with him and I'd like to see my last born with him.

I would be very very very very thankful if you took time to answer me. Mille mercis !!!!

I have loved reading your blog for so long. What beautiful pictures you paint with your writing...and the part about your Dad brought tears to my eyes instantly, such a sweet memory. Have a lovely weekend.

Oh, what a beautiful gathering of words and photos! Isn't it just amazing how one tiny sweet heart can turn the world into a place full of joy- for those who experience it right up close, in your arms, holding her hand- as well as loved ones far away whose hearts are just as full of joy! How I wish I was at Hacienda Hawthorne so I could come to your party, or even peek in the front for a while! ๐ŸŽƒ๐Ÿ•ธ๐ŸŽƒ๐Ÿ•ธ๐ŸŽƒ

Oh dear this October has flown by much too fast.
Sweet Miss Em is so cute in her purple fairy princess costume and the braided crown is genius.
As always your photography tells a beautiful story of the season & family. ๐Ÿ‚๐ŸŽƒ

Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. Every time I comment, it's to say thank you, but it means so much to me to get these glimpses into the soft and beautiful world where you and your family live.

I love the pumpkin field photos, especially the one in the distance with the threatening dark sky. You make such darling clothes for your little girl. I always feel your photos exude love and care for your family

Stefanie P. says: October 29, 2016 at 12:25 PM

So beautifully very observant...deep emotions put into words. Thank you from one mother's heart to another!

Good evening! I am from far Brest, Belarus. Your blog every time gives me joy and cozy. Thank you for sharing it!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.