It’s been over two weeks since I have returned. I am finally re-acclimated to being at home and am enjoying my daily walks around the neighborhood. They help me keep the glow of my travels alive as long as possible. On one of my 3-mile hikes through the Upper Haight-Ashbury in the City, there were plenty of gobble-de-gooks and other surprises to amuse me and remind me why walking is a better way to travel and see the world.
I began to ponder the color orange. In a recent ice-breaker exercise, participants were asked to state their favorite color. Obvious “safe” answers such as “green”, “blue” or “pink” were mentioned, but few people would say their favorite color is orange! It seems to be an odd color, not quite fitting in with anything or eliciting a pleasant response.
From this Matisse painting posted this morning from the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (see my post from Day 69-70), Matisse once said “The chief function of color should be to serve expression”. The BF suggested that autumn colors should inspire how we express ourselves.
Other than being associated locally with the San Francisco Giants’ Baseball team and the shocking “Clockwork Orange” movie by Stanley Kubrick, the color orange either reminds people of Fall Foliage, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. Beyond that…well, not much.
For those who are not as familiar with Halloween in the US, it is a fun and scary night with goblins, ghosts, and creepy-crawlies for kids. Children (and some adults who never grew up) dress in costumes and ply through their local neighborhood to demand from each neighbor a “Trick or Treat”…meaning you should give each child in a costume a “treat” or they will “trick” you. Most kids don’t really have a plan to take revenge on their neighbors, though. And I’m not sure whether hosts can opt to “trick” those at their doorsteps.
If you don’t answer or are not at home, you can get eggs thrown at your house, toilet paper strewn throughout the bushes, or a pumpkin smashed on the street. Older kids who did those things were intent on doing it anyway. Kids are now closely supervised by their parents on these outings. As a kid, I only remember going alone and getting sweaty from running in my home-made costume. I raced through my Crocker Highlands neighborhood in Oakland door-to-door to grab as much candy from neighbors as possible in two hours. I could easily gather one or two grocery bags full of goodies and stash enough to rot my teeth for the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, it is no longer a simple matter. Much later, our kids’ orthodontist was a real wet blanket. He collected the candy from kids who brought them in after every Halloween and bribed them with some pathetically unmemorable incentive. Crime has risen and deterred children from being able to go into their neighborhoods safely alone. It seems that kids nowadays are joining families or school groups to have private parties as an alternative to the neighborhood haunt.
But from my walk and looking for things orange, I discovered a small piece de resistance and renewal of faith for Halloween. The Upper Haight has been known to be a classic neighborhood where kids from both inside and outside the ‘hood are also welcome to visit. Even in our middle class neighborhood there are manifestations of defiance and celebrations of the spooky holiday. Maybe it takes a small community with money, iron determination to counteract current fears, or both. I could be a Scrooge and complain about how much money is being wasted and spent for no good cause. In any event, I was happy to see these expressions of home-made fun, whimsy, and creativity. I hope you enjoy them too.
Note: I will be posting an index of my 80 days around the world for those who missed specific cities. Stay tuned.
I noticed that the photos I normally take of favorite pieces from the Barnes Foundation were absent. The museum did not allow photos to be taken of artwork.
For those who continue to be interested in my wanderings, I will be making occasional posts over the next few weeks. You can always opt out if you aren’t.