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October 8, 2020
white pumpkins | reading my tea leaves

My kids are hunting for pumpkins on neighborhood walks these days. The rainbow signs made in April are still hanging in apartment windows but the construction paper has faded and the edges have curled in. Now there are polyester cobwebs to spot and knobby pumpkins and on some stoops, more elaborate mayhem: severed plastic limbs and upside-down mummies and styrofoam gravestones poking out of pots of under-watered mums.

In a city that endured the real-life horror of refrigerated morgue trucks humming through the night this spring, maybe there’s an element of relief found in the sight of a faux coffin. Maybe the bulging eyeballs and gauzy shrouds on make-believe goblins offer a reprieve from the very real ghoulishness of so many people we see in positions of power.

The president tries to deride this city by calling it a ghost town but I think this could be the one truthful claim he has made. Our neighborhoods are filled to brimming with ghosts—nearly 27,000 of them—who we’ll never forget.

Most nights, at 7:00 o’clock as we’re readying the kids for bed, we can hear neighbors banging pots and pans outside our window. It’s a hold-over, I think, from the 7pm essential workers salute that filled the city streets with sound during the worst weeks of the pandemic. I like to imagine that this particular noise-making is also a protest; one family’s sustained cacerolazo and a nightly reminder to would-be authoritarians that there will be a reckoning.

How about you?

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12 Comments

  • Reply Miradii October 8, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    So Damn well -written!

    4
  • Reply Laurence October 8, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Quelle prose! Merci Erin pour ces mots si justes. Vous me mettez du baume au coeur en ces temps si cruels et incertains.

  • Reply Naomi October 8, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    This is so beautifully written. Thank you.

  • Reply Goldie October 8, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    Love this. Erin, are your kids back at in-person school? I’m wondering how it’s going in NYC.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE October 9, 2020 at 9:15 am

      The littlest two are in private daycare but public school is still a mess. Faye has in-person schooling only once or twice a week on a rotating schedule.

  • Reply Carol October 9, 2020 at 5:20 am

    Wow, Erin, this is powerful stuff, and comforting at the same time. Yes, there will be a reckoning.
    Thank you!

  • Reply Stéphanie October 9, 2020 at 5:29 am

    We had ten weeks of pot banging and doorstep clapping in the UK during the height of the spring outbreak, but it has finished now. It’s interesting to read your thoughts about the ritual – much more positive and optimistic than my interpretation of it in the UK. In the UK it felt very hollow and performative – lots of love for our health system, but not enough to actually vote for a government that would protect it with adequate funding and pay healthcare workers a decent salary. I am glad that the ritual clap and bang is over as the hypocrisy made me fume! Beautiful observations about rainbows – stuck inside every window of family homes here too – and Halloween, I hope you and your children find ways to enjoy the holiday(s) this year despite everything that’s going on your side of the Atlantic (and mine). I look forward to seeing if the ladybug costume gets recycled for your youngest!

    3
  • Reply Sue October 9, 2020 at 6:39 am

    Written so eloquently, thank you for your posts they are little islands of calm and common-sense in this mad, mad world.

  • Reply Anne On October 9, 2020 at 7:37 am

    Do you live near this house? I’d love to see it in person:
    https://www.brooklynlimestone.com/2020/10/halloween-2020-grimms-fairy-tales.html

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE October 9, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Oh my! Don’t think that’s near us!

  • Reply Laura October 9, 2020 at 7:51 am

    Thank you! I love reading your posts. They have become a touch stone for me.

  • Reply Emily October 9, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Hear hear Erin, these are marvelous words as always. I’m so grateful for your vantage. And trivial perhaps, but I’ve turned to sewing lately with GUSTO as I realize how meditative it feels in all of this. One teensy font line of instructions at a time. Cheers to this and you and voting and… whew – what a time this is. Good tidings from rural Montana.

    1
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