Cherokee Kid

Jim Alberty is a member of the Bird Clan of the Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma. Born in Claremore, OK he now lives in Maine, working as a composer, writer and Creative for Apple. He is active in the Casco Bay area arts and education communities as a composer, musician, social dancer and actor.

Hanging With the October People

I love this time of year.

Many of my friends know that I pretty much love every time of year, same as I love every time of day. But, as I lean toward sunset and early morning as the first amongst my favorite times of the day I hold late Autumn, particularly Hallowe'en as the first amongst my favorite seasons of the year.

I've spent the last week on a farm in South Paris, the site of my vacation last year. This time I spent a good deal of effort taking long hikes on the many trails in the area, culminating in a walk in the White Mountain National Park - or, Grafton's Notch State Park, up Route 302 in New Hampshire.

The magic of this seasons, its changing leaves, cooling evenings, dramatic sunsets and sweet melancholy - all of it, speaks to something deep in my soul.

I like pumpkins and apples and cider as well. The final, hardier fruits of the harvests are taking over the tables of the Farmer's Market - tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes - thing that go well into crock pots and wait for you to get home from a good day's work.

I go through so much beef stock I should just boil a cow and have done with it each Columbus Day.

 Wednesday saw me come back into town for young Master Theo's birthday party. The son of my late, best friend Eckart Horn, whose widow, Molly, kindly turned the South Paris farmhouse over to my vacation, was turning 7.

What I thought would be a cake-and-ice-cream sing along turned out to be a joyous mass of 14 children in the backyard, lit by candles, my iPhone and a construction-style stand light, all opening, cleaning, marking and carefully carving what seemed an ocean of pumpkins into jack 'o lanterns of the most amazing designs.

Inside sat about 10 parents and other adults, chatting away over spaghetti and meatballs, waiting for the mayhem to produce workable lanterns, waiting for the birthday boy to preview videos he'd gotten earlier in the day.

There is a great, whirling, giddy excitement to be had in helping a child turn a pumpkin into a personality.  Your hands have a special scent to them, part candle wax, part sweet, squishy pumpkin innards.

I had to make sure I gave them a good scrub before I went to my tango practica.

Eventually we did sing for Theo, a cake was presented - which I had to decline because the spaghetti was sugar load enough. Besides which I had to go to practica and then drive back at under the glowing moon, back up into the hills to South Paris, under clear skies pocked with crystalline stars.

So I was very fortunate to partake of a sacrament of Autumn, hard by the Western Cemetery. A flight of pumpkins guard the house, a family I've placed under the protection of the sprits of my family.

There are rituals that keep us aware of the joy and magic that surrounds us, binds us as friends, as elders and as children - and we are all those things together at once. Perhaps later we will sort them out and learn the lessons each teaches but for now, the winds blows, the leaves turn and fall and swish under our feet and we all hold hands - to keep ourselves safe and to share the certainty of the love we feel.

Portland, Maine