imaginary outfit: nocturnal creatures


It started with a story about Fred, the orphaned baby raccoon we raised when I was a little girl (my dad was a naturalist, so injured and abandoned owls, squirrels, snakes and other creatures sometimes cycled through our lives until they were ready to return to the wild). Or maybe it was the little moon-obsessed raccoon in the Margaret Wise Brown book. Whatever the reason, Hugh is fascinated with raccoons. Besides Fred, an imaginary raccoon named Hehe has appeared, with a fondness for messes, hiding, eating fried chicken and making raccoon sounds (a sort of unsettling hiss, as it happens). So, with Halloween in mind, I found a pattern for a raccoon coat (Simplicity 1477), and my talented mother turned corduroy into magic, and Hugh now dresses like a raccoon whenever he likes.

He likes to tell us about how nocturnal creatures come out at night, so I imagined us as a family of night-loving animals out trick-or-treating — raccoon, owl, and fox — because we'll likely stay home after all. It's cold after a month of weirdly warm days and there's a chance of snow, and while I have happy childhood memories of bunchy long-johns under my Halloween costume and chilly toes even after running from house to house, Hugh's (slightly) less candy-obsessed.

For me, Halloween is a holiday of porch lights and friendly faces, preluded by the hum of my mother's sewing machine, fed with glue sticks and glitter, and finished with a handful of crumpled Tootsie Roll wrappers. I hold on to that, zombie baby decorations notwithstanding (ugh). I'm thinking I may channel my inner second-grader and make a haunted house diorama.

Happy Halloween.