Monday, October 27, 2008


Halloween is a big deal in Canada. Houses and yards get decorated with scary stuff, kids decide what they're going to "go as" and plan the routes that will get them the most and the best goodies on Halloween eve, October 31. Little ones are taken door-to-door by their parent(s) who stand at the sidewalk while the little ghost/Batman/devil/princess comes up to the door, yells "trick or treat" and opens up the loot bag to receive the coveted candy. Older, savvier kids get to ditch the parents and roam on their own.

When I was a little kid in Ashern, Manitoba (150 miles north of Winnipeg), the traditions were different from what they are now. We didn't yell "trick or treat" - we yelled "Halloween Apples!" And we used to get lots of apples - more than candies - and sometimes a homemade popcorn ball. Nowadays only wrapped candies are given out, for fear that there will be something dangerous in an apple or a homemade treat. Then, in Ashern, after someone came to their door, you had to do a "trick" before you got your "treat". We used to have to tell a joke or sing a song or recite a poem - one guy I knew was really good at crossing his eyes, together or one at a time, and that was his act for the evening. If someone didn't give out treats, the older kids would play another kind of "trick" on them - the most daring and admired of which was carefully moving the outhouse back 5 feet so when some poor old guy came out to go to the outhouse in the middle of the night, he'd fall in the hole. Much frowned upon by the grownups; devilishly encouraged by the kids. Ah, for the good ole days!

It occurs to me that Halloween may be a big deal here in Canada and the U.S., but where else? What, if anything, is Halloween where you live?

Friday, October 10, 2008


Computers and the internet can be overwhelming and obsessively time-consuming and often maddeningly frustrating. But the web has enabled things to happen that just a few years ago would have been impossible.

When I first heard Canadian writer/poet/musician Robert Priest perform his "Poem for the Ancient Trees", I was moved by it. So I was delighted when it took on a new and further life. Thanks to Marie Wilson of the 15x100 international group of photographers, a collection of photographs has been married with Mr. Priest's poem and music in a wonderful collaboration.

I offer here a poem of mine about a tree. And then a link to the Poem for the Ancient Trees collaboration.

Since I Moved In

In my front yard
There is a tree
A handsome healthy
Tree that's been around
A while though
I've only known it
A year or so
Since I moved in.

It was December
When we met
The tree and me
Its branches bared
To the icy wind
It's quietly endured
Since I moved in.

In Spring
It put out leaves
To take the sun
And patiently
Invited birds
And squirrels to take it too
Since I moved in.

All summer
It dropped seeds
Begging for a family
Or one other tree
To grow beside it
Not to be
Since I moved in.

The Fall has come
The birds have gone their way
The frantic squirrels
Are guessing what will come
And the tree might be
More used to me
Since I moved in.

I do not want to have
A relationship
With this tree.
I do not want it
To depend on me
Or change a thing for me
Since I moved in.

I do not expect it
To do anything
But what it can
Or be a thing
That is not that tree
Since I moved in.

But since I moved in
I have had one
A relationship
With the tree
And it with me
It's plain to see
Since I moved in.


Poem for the Ancient Trees

(make sure your sound is on)

Robert Priest is a poet, playwright, song-writer and novelist.

More about him here and here

Music by Lafferty/Priest. Track produced and arranged by Peter Lafferty.

Photographs by members of 15x100