Editor's Letter: On Saints, Souls and Spooks

About this time every year, I start to suspect there's much more to this world than meets my eye.

No wonder. In the surrounding forest, familiar greens yield to unsuspected undertones of crimson and copper, honey and harvest wheat. Those flaming colors have been present all along. We just couldn't see them until the chlorophyll died.

Clearly, I am not alone - at least in my suspicions. Neighbors have carved innocent pumpkins into knowing jack-o-lanterns, hung miscreants from once-tame gallows trees, spread their doorways with spider webs, cultivated covens of bats and black cats, danced skeletons from their eaves and flown witches over their rooftops.

Nor can I dismiss all this deviltry either as some quaint local custom or superstitious dread of the millennium.

Older than any of our memories - indeed, millennia long - is the conviction that this season marks the conjunction of our everyday world with another.

Who inhabits that universe?

The dead and other spirits.

Custom tells us that on the nights of October 31 and November 1, the eves of All Saints and All Souls, denizens of the other world reach out and touch us. What's more, this time of year just may open a two-way street, allowing us to touch back.

So, in celebration of the improbable, we dress ourselves as spirits and monsters and all kinds of oddities, seeming to seek what we might be in what we aren't. We stroll in the darkness, laughing to make light of its awesome uncertainties. We're not so surprised as we might be at strange conjunctions.

To all such transformations, we dedicate this issue.

In this week's Reflection, you'll read about the other self discovered in usually domesticated writer Audrey Scharmen.

In this week's Feature, you'll read companion stories about the transformative powers of art: the show Angels and Other Aliens at the National Visionary Arts Museum and local visionary artist Bob Kelbaugh, of Shady Side.

In Between the Covers, you'll read about Bay tale-teller Helen Chappell's Book of the Dead.

In Diversions and Excursions, you'll visit cemeteries with M.L. Faunce.

In Dock of the Bay, you'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of News of the Weird and read about another alien, a 20-foot whale that once - millions of years ago - swam Chesapeake seas.

Enjoy it all - for who knows what we're becoming? ­ SOM

| Issue 43 |

Volume VII Number 43
October 28-November 3, 1999
New Bay Times

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