Celebrating the Night

It’s Halloween!  Officially one of my favorite nights of the year. Tonight, millions of children will walk out their doors dressed in all sorts of creative costumes including Star Wars characters, Drew’s minions, and adorable cuddly animals. Some will walk alone, some with their parents, and some will walk in gangs of teenagers. In my neighborhood parents have almost as much fun as the kids—we socialize in the streets as our kids run up to the front doors of each lit-up porch, we celebrate the few adults who put on costumes to join in the fun, and we occasionally steal candy from our children’s stashes as we offer to hold their heavy loads. I love seeing the final decorative outfit unveilings of our neighbors adorned with proud smiles that represent the hard work of the kids (and moms or dads who helped.)  My husband, who hasn’t touched a sewing machine since high school, has spent about forty hours creating three 2013 costumes on a borrowed machine. He wears the Halloween hat in our family—thank goodness, and this year he’s truly hit it out of the park. I’m a miserable failure when it comes to costumes. Tonight, many of the passing turtles, Spider-Men, and cowgirls, many of whom I’ve known since the day they were born, will take a pause to say hello and show of their outfits. Even the big kids will flaunt their wear. I get a kick out of these gaggles of teenagers. I’ve caught them celebrating when I give out miniature containers of Play-Doh instead of candy, “Yes! Play-Doh!” and I’ve seen them watch out for little kids on steep staircases or even on cracked sidewalks.  It’s a joy I tell you—the whole darn thing.

Throughout the last two years of doing my 365 Every Day Outside Challenge many of my 30ish minute outings happened just the way many of us will head out tonight—after dark under street lights.  Sometimes my kids join me, waving flashlights around, and occasionally turning them off to test the darkness.  More often than not I’d go alone, after the kids were tucked into bed.  These solo nighttime walks are often magical.  My senses are heightened and the quiet is precious.  These outings often follow days filled with indoor responsibilities and too much sitting in front of my computer. The first deep breath of fresh air doesn’t always happen right away, sometimes I’m halfway through my walk before the tension fades enough to allow my diaphragm to expand thoroughly. Finally relaxing, breathing deeply, and rapidly moving my body contribute to the heightened sense of joy I carry back inside with me.

Maybe, my decades of enjoying Halloween—chilly nighttime walks with friends have been trying to tell me something.  Connecting to the natural world is not just a daytime thing. Taking time to enjoy the stars, the moon, and the way cumulous clouds are backlit by the light reflecting off the moon throughout all seasons is something to treasure. I hope you all enjoy your Halloween evening and if you don’t get outside tonight, I hope you’ll consider adding regular nighttime walks to heighten your connection to each season.

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