Civil War sesquicentennial fever is gripping Connecticut and is palpable across the nation. Tourists
stream south to battlefields and home grown re-enactors make us proud at Antietam and other sites. Such pilgrimages should encouraged, but having been to the Wilderness, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Manassas, Petersburg and elsewhere multiple times, I know Connecticut travelers would best begin at home.
For the past couple weeks, tiny downtown Collinsville, Connecticut has glowed orange at night. The color comes not from neighborhood sugar maples in fall regalia or the pumpkins perched on stoops awaiting rebirth as jack-o-lanterns. This eerie shine emanates from colored light bulbs inside and outside, in homes and commercial buildings, burning with Halloween spirit in anticipation of the big parade that will briefly transform an ordinary place into a phenomenon.
To my wonder and joy, eleven accidental pumpkins grew from a waste place in my garden this summer,
not far from my compost pile. They seemed a gift of Providence or some universal life force. I watched with fascination from the first appearance of vine and tendril, to the burst of bright trumpet-like flowers, and then the emergence of tiny dark green squash that grew with abandon as the plant ran roughshod over flowers and vegetables, a walkway and fence. All this happened because last year there was no Halloween.