The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm. He came along the street of Green Town, Illinois, in the late cloudy October day, sneaking glances over his shoulder. Somewhere not so far back, vast lightnings stomped the earth. Somewhere, a storm like a great beast with terrible teeth could not be denied.I just realized that this will be the first Halloween without Ray Bradbury, who died earlier this year. I have been thinking about him, because this autumn has been very much like the autumns we used to have. The leave began to flame as soon as October came. I wasn't prepared. Global warming, or climate shift, or both has me almost used to ninety degree temperatures in September, and made snow in winter a rarity.
This fall is different. It's been cold enough, of and on so that I've considered turning the heat on. Yes, you heard me. Heat. We've days and days of leaden skies and cold rains. The wind has knocked the color off the trees and made the front hall of my house moan at night.
At least I hope it's the wind.
We've had a Something Wicked This Way Comes autumn. In the book, Bradbury describes what a mid-western autumn looks like, smells like and feels like perfectly. Fall in this part of the country has a particular kind of light, low and slanted somehow, that makes everything look out of kilter, slightly dangerous. The small town that I grew up in always decorates its block-long Main Street for holidays. This year they tied corn stalks to the street lamps. And to the corn stalks, they tied scarecrows. I parked in front of the coffee shop, and looked up into the eyes of a scarecrow with a potato sack mask painted with a leering jack-o-lantern face, his arms spread wide. I found myself stepping as far out of his reach as I could. It just seemed like good sense.
In that low light, under the overcast sky, I had, just for a second,the feeling that the town was holding its breath, waiting for the storm. Waiting for Mister Dark to come strolling around the corner, carnival in tow.
It was like meeting up with an old friend, anticipation tinged with unease. So, of course, I thought of Ray Bradbury. I always picture him from the beginning of the old Ray Bradbury Theater TV show, in an office full of oddities; Martians and mummies lurking, sitting behind his desk, typing on an actual typewriter. And that's when I remembered, wait, oh no....
So I can't help thinking that this perfect, surreal, creepy fall is entirely for him, just to remind us, to say goodbye.