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     Volume 6 Issue 39 | October 5, 2007 |

   Cover Story
   Straight Talk
   Food for Thought
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Straight Talk

View from a Window

As I sit here gazing out of the window overlooking the garden, I can feel a sense of tranquillity washing over me. I seem to be surrounded by a sea of green, yellow and gold. If I were an artist, it would give me immense pleasure to be able to capture the warmth and vibrancy of the view in front of me. As I always say, God's palette is truly remarkable. There is almost a mesmeric effect as I watch the sun play hide and seek through the trees and see the leaves rustling and swaying rhythmically in the breeze. Summer has finally come to an end and we are now well and truly immersed in autumn.

It is strange that very often autumn, especially when referred to in poems or descriptions, is considered to be a time of melancholy and sadness. The reason may be due to the fact that people mourn the end of summer and the exuberance and happiness it brings with it and await the cold, grey winter that follows on the heels of autumn. But for some reason, I enjoy the autumn months and find beauty and serenity in them.

These days, when I take the children to school in the morning, I can definitely feel a chill in the air despite the fact that the sun is shining down on us in all its glory. The crisp cool air is invigorating and is an instant disperser of the bleariness that is an accompaniment of the morning. The shorter days and longer nights are also a reminder that fall is here.

This is the time of the year that many children look forward to as Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October. Once again I, like many other households, have the pleasure of being visited by witches, ghouls and goblins hoping to laden their bags with sweets and treats. Living on a communal garden such as ours, has its numerous benefits and thankfully one of them is the fact that the children can still enjoy Halloween without us (paranoid parents) worrying about them wandering on the streets, crossing roads or knocking on doors of houses with unsavoury inhabitants.

Children of all ages living around the communal garden just have to step out of their back door and can go “trick or treating” at the houses surrounding the garden. The fact that it is an enclosed area means that they are able to go out in groups with siblings or friends, on their own if they are a little older and even the toddlers can partake in the fun by being escorted by their parents. Most people know each other and many of us have seen the children growing up in front of us. I have to admit that even I enjoy the festive atmosphere and look forward to hearing the crunching of leaves underfoot as the hordes of children traipse in and out of our back yard. We also have the amusing task of buying a pumpkin and carving a face on it. The scarier the face we carve the better, seems to be the general idea! From my window, I can see other pumpkins with faces carved on them and little tea lights in them twinkling in people's houses. When the last of the little visitors have been and gone it is nice to be able to take down the Halloween decorations and put them away for yet another year.

Within a week of saying goodbye to Halloween we await the next event which is a bonfire and fireworks night and is held on the 5th of November. This tradition of lighting bonfires celebrates the failure of the gunpowder plot in 1605. The story behind this is that four hundred years ago thirteen young catholic young men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament and among them was Guy Fawkes who was caught, tortured and executed. He subsequently became known for being Britain's most notorious traitor. On the 5th of November, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the Protestant King James I of England and his sons.

Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is observed annually with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire. You will be happy to know that we do not burn effigies of anyone in our garden but there is definitely a massive bonfire every year.

Once again being a communal garden, we are the beneficiaries of certain festivities and events organised by the Garden Committee and one of them is the above mentioned Bonfire and Fireworks Night. Those living within the boundaries of the garden are invited to come out into the garden on the evening of the 5th of November with family and friends, and enjoy the warmth of the raging bonfire and then be a spectator to a truly magnificent fireworks display. If it takes one's fancy, jacket potatoes, chilli con carne and mulled wine is offered for a small charge to the people who have come into the garden. However, this is not something we make use of. Instead we like to have our family and friends over for a cosy dinner at home. There is a lovely feeling of camaraderie as we all stand outside, our necks craning to see the spectacular display of fireworks with its explosion of colours and the gasps of amazement and whoops of excitement are wonderful to witness. As there is more than one communal garden in the area where we live, there is also some competition and friendly rivalry between them. Whose summer fair is better and whose fireworks is bigger is always a point of debate. Being completely impartial, I would have to say that our bonfire and fireworks is definitely superior!

Once the bonfire has died down and the last of the fireworks have fizzled out, it is a wonderful feeling to walk back into the warmth of the house and soon there are piles of shoes and boots filling the hallway while everyone congregates in the living room. This scene is re-enacted every year at our house and I never seem to tire of it. For me autumn is full of happy memories, of children's laughter, falling leaves, fireworks and friends...

Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, "You make such a noise falling! You scatter all my winter dreams."
Said the leaf indignant, "Low-born and low-dwelling! Songless, peevish thing! You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell the sound of singing."
Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when spring came she waked again -- and she was a blade of grass.
And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, "O these autumn leaves! They make such a noise! They scatter all my winter dreams." - Khalil Gibran

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