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#Blogtober14 Day 9: A Downeast Halloween

Credit: Google "someecards halloween"  Thank me.
I guess I don't really have many purely Halloween memories.  I mean, we always dressed up as ...something... and always went to houses and got candy.  Mostly family, some friends.  One of my friends would always have a costume party for the class, and I would attend that.

In college, Halloween festivities were a whole different breed.  We still dressed up, but it was a game to see who could have the skimpiest costume.  And then you would get to the bar and you would see 3 other people wearing the same thing, because there were only two costume stores in town, and they sold the same costumes.  Seriously, there's only so many different variances of "slutty nurse" and "unholy nun."

That being said, my best memories come from the Fall season.  I touched on it a little in yesterday's post- I grew up in Maine.  As such, I got to experience few things that were quite out of the ordinary.  We were your typical Maine family, but probably not the typical American family.

By October 31, Fall was already in full swing.  It was sweatshirt and coat weather, and for hunters and other outdoorsmen, out came the long johns.  Learning how to sit still and be quiet while my dad and brother hunted partridge.  "Helping Dad clean the partridge and refusing to eat it for supper, because no matter what my mother said, it does not taste like chicken.

As the middle of November and Thanksgiving creeps closer, usually someone within the extended family has shot a deer.  Or, there was that one year that my Mom ran over one with her old Dodge Caravan and we got to keep it.  Deer meat means mincemeat, and mincemeat is delicious.  I would spend all day long with my grandmother, peeling apples and grinding meat.  The recipe we used called for "bowls" instead of cups or teaspoons.  It also happens to be in my great-grandmother's writing.  We'd cook it all up and divide it out, some to family, most to be frozen.  Enough left to make my grandfather a pie or two.  And me, too.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one out of my brothers and I that still like mincemeat.  In fact, my aunt is sure to make me a pie every time we visit.  I've not made mincemeat since before my grandmother died, but I hold out hope that some day, when left to my own devices, I can recreate the tasty goodness.
Mincemeat pie personalized with a "D" so everyone knows it's mine!
After Thanksgiving, it's time for tipping and wreathing season.  Up early in the morning, with layers and layers of clothes on, boots and ski pants if it's snowed, to go break branches of fir trees.   I don't remember exactly when I learned the difference between a fir tree and spruce tree, but rest assured- it's stuck.  Usually, tipping was done on my grandparents' property, but occasionally we would also go up the Diamond Match Road to tip.  More than once my grandmother caught me climbing half way up a tree to get the perfect bough.  We'd pile the boughs high on a stake that my dad or grandfather had cut and whittled.  Then, after a good truck load, we'd head back to my grandparents' house.

The making of the wreaths took place in two places: in my grandfather's garage and in my dad's garage.  Dad, my brother, my grandparents, and at least one aunt would stand around this able made of plywood and sawhorses and make wreaths.  I was too young so my oldest brother and I would make forts from the finished wreaths, or race around on our Dukes of Hazzard big wheel.  I remember the first wreath I made- I was still quite young- took everyone by surprise.  Not that it was good, but they had managed to miss the little arms nonchalantly reaching over and snatching at my grandmother's pile of tips.  At least, until I was "finished" and needed help breaking the wire and tying it off.
From the Bangor Daily News, December 5, 1988. A story about my family and wreathing.
Click the picture to make it bigger!!

My family made wreaths for more years than I can remember, though they stopped sometime around 2000 or 2001.  October and fall in general brings to mind these happy memories.
The Daily Tay


  1. Fall really is the best! that pie looks delicious!

  2. It IS delicious! The fact that it is ground up deer meat and apples tends to gross people out though :)


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