Friday, November 5, 2010

A Harvest Homecoming

On All Hallow's Eve, I partook in the festivities at the Bergen County Historical Society's Harvest Homecoming. Aside from the cost of refreshments, the events are free for members (an extremely reasonable $20 yearly dues).

The world just seems so much more magical when lit by candles.

Doesn't the Black Horse Tavern look even more cozy by night?

The October's night was cold, the wind: punishing. A mug of hot mulled cider, $1, warmed the body, and the cider donut, $1.50, warmed the soul. Pumpkin or apple pie were also available for $2.50, as were cold cider, coffee or tea. Apples on the table: 25 cents a piece. An autumn day feels a little less complete without a crisp apple.

The back kitchen by night.

The candles were aglow, and the fire (one of my favorite scents in fall and winter) was crackling.

Perusing their fine collection of artifacts, this caught my eye: the pan Rachael Burdette is said to have served George Washington Indian cakes in November 1776. Consider all the possessions we have in our modern world. Will they survive for years to come? Centuries?

I admired the craftsmanship of the Betsey Haring quilt, and reflected on how little craftsmanship goes into many of our possessions today.

Note the roping on the bed. Walking through the historic homes, I longed for a home less cluttered filled with only functional and/or cherished items. I vow to make that happen by donating items, little at a time, to family, friends, colleagues and through charitable thrift.

What would a Hallow's Eve night be without some ghost stories? The "Van Duyne's Midnight Dinners" skit had visitors from beyond: a child who had passed away in the war; a bride who was accidentally buried alive after falling into a coma, has her grave robbed for her ring and after escaping only to die of exposure from the cold; a witch, crying out how age was once revered but now an old, ugly woman with no family to care for her is blamed on spoiled crops and cows who provide no milk; and the famous Jersey devil all made an appearance.

Regina Haring discussed the Haring Burial Ground in Norwood, and of her family history. What will become of our own legacies? Will our descendants be intrigued by the lives we led, or will we be forgotten?

Take time to reflect on and learn about the past - of your state, your nation, our world and also your family. As was observed during a discussion, so often it is the women who pass down the stories. But if we don't inquire, those stories are lost.

I am grateful for the Bergen County Historical Society, for leading us down an introspective road to remembrance, with a good dose of merriment along the way.

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