Halloween’s haunting magic belongs to children.  Children who are young enough to feel as though they are breaking rules, wandering the streets in the darkness of night asking for candy from strangers.

The enchantment of October 31st becomes tangible with all of  autumn’s characteristic hallmarks, engrained in our memories in some measure, no doubt, by the Peanut’s half hour seasonal cartoon, The Great Pumpkin.  The dead crunchy leaves underfoot, the early darkness of daylight savings time, glowing lights in the distance, screams of children up and down streets, the wind blowing  stubborn foliage from wicked looking trees above, combine that with the rule breaking, and you’ve got fertile ground for lifelong memories.

I followed my kids  for years with a camera in hand and waited on the sidewalk as they scampered up to houses panhandling for sweets.  I snapped many frames capturing the feverish exhilaration of the hunt. One image has become my favorite.

The End of the Magic

I think the photo has a haunted, etherial, fleeting quality to it,  a visual valediction for an activity of childhood that the 2 friends will not share again.  They are alone on the street interacting at the end of the day and the beginning of the night  in a whirling dance of unaffected motion.  One is directly regarding the other with her glance.  The other is reaching out for something.

The probable reality of this moment is simply an instant in time that was unconscious, unplanned and void of any real deep meaning.  The beauty in viewing it later provides the open ended opportunity to interpret and ascribe meaning to it’s  various elements.  What I like about this photo is it’s authenticity, total lack of Photoshop artifice and it’s prolificacy for interpretation.

Changes multiply at this age in a child’s life quickly.  The progression out of these ventures of the imagination into more practical preoccupations are natural and encouraging developments.  This transition is no less sentimental for a parent, (remember the last Christmas where Santa was still a real person?)

Much was left behind after this photo was taken.  I’m glad I have the image to remember.  The marvel of photography is the reaction of impulse to freeze a seemingly unexceptional moment in time only to discover, in post production, a deeper meaning than could possibly be realized in the millisecond the shutter is released.


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