Berlin Diary: Jack-o‘-lantern Trick or Treat! How About a Loony Balloony!

     |    Thursday, der 31. October 2013

Cold frosty mornings and dramatic evening skies. Crispy leaves crackling underfoot and the warm, musky smell of dried grass.  It’s time to celebrate – it’s Halloween!  Are you dressing up in a costume tonight and going out to trick or treat? When we were kids we called it ‚halloweening‘ and it was the absolute highpoint of autumn. Something that we prepared for over weeks and weeks.

But first on to the loony part… Our backend operator made a very special nod to the Halloween tradition this year. She carved a pumpkin with an eerily beautiful, slightly melancholic face. Ms. A based her pumpkin design on a cartoon character I had never heard of – Balloony, a side character in the cartoon series „Phineas and Ferb“. Balloony, with his silent and dignified countenance, is a nice counterpart to the frantic action and brash colors all around him.

Here, check out Baloony in action:

The mysterious Balloony pumpkin, glowing orange in the dark,  reminds me of my own childhood Halloweens. Even more than the joy of getting and eating candy treats, it’s a pleasure to recall the preparations we made as kids the trick part of the trick or treat.

Our backyard wasn’t far from local farms. We’d get up some nerve (the farmers were quick to spot you – so hurry up!) and raid the corn fields for some ‚cow corn‘. This is not the succulent ear you find on your dinner plate. Rather, it’s a hard kernel used as animal feed, perfect for throwing against windows and roofs to make a shattering rat-a-tat-tat  and shake up the TV watching neighbors so they come yelling at the front door: „Bad kids – you bad kids!“ Of course, we weren’t bad, we were having a great time and so were they.

In the fields we’d snap off a few ears and run home to shuck corn into burlap bags. I remember my brother filling up a big heavy bag one year. „Look at this!“ he bragged, gripping the bag’s neck and opening it up to the yellow treasure inside. Oh yeah, I was jelous, my bag was usually a little smaller. But my enthusiasm didn’t suffer for it. On the contrary.

Out later at night, bags at the ready under our arms, prowling in the neighbor’s yard. We’d crouch in the grass and sneak up our way up close to the neighbor’s house. Standing up we called in unison – 1,2,3! Then tossed a full hand of dry, ripe corn at the neighbor’s front door, on their roof and against their big picture window. Okay, RUN!!!!! Hide in the bushes, watch as the kids run out on the porch, stop to look at them bathed in porch light, trying to spy you out in the dark. Maybe they’re too young yet to go ‚throwin‘ corn‘, so they have to content themselves with dressing up in Casper the Friendly Ghost costumes, or as witches or even pumpkins. Maybe these days there are even Balloony costumes at the local store.

Sooner or later, dressing up for Halloween becomes less important, trick or treating becomes impossible for us as adults… but the pumpkins! Yes, the pumpkins. We can still carve the pumpkins. Thank you Ms. A for your splendid Loony Baloony Jack-o‘-Latern!