I was settling into my annual reading of The Halloween Tree, which is a ritual I have invoked and maintained for the last few post-Halloweens–a great way to come down from the witches’ high of the Big Night and prepare for Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. I was savoring my copy of the book–pilfered from my Grandma’s basement when I was but a teen–and I noticed something for the first time in several years. The words on the dedication page read thus:
With love for
MADAM MAN’HA GAREEAU-DOMBASLE
met twenty-seven years ago in the graveyard at midnight on the Island of Janitzio at Lake Patzcuaro, Mexico, and rememebered on each anniversary of The Day of the Dead
Oh now, I have read these words before. But I hadn’t noticed them of late and this is significant because I actually visited that island! I guess Ray Bradbury was in my subconcious because two years ago on The Day of the Dead I was crouching behind mourners and candlelight vigils, taking orb-ladened photos and sips from a flask as the icy chill of midnight and the mountain lake’s waters settled all around us. I was in the same cemetery as Bradbury, doing the same thing. Only he is way cooler because he did it back before it was really something tourist did. The influence of the Mexican culture, specifically their Day of the Dead tratiitons are all over Bradbury’s books.
In honor of his friend, and in honor of a few of mine who have gone to the great beyond, tonight I burn the candle I bought on Isla Janitzio those moons ago. And I think of those who have passed, the loved ones, the family and friends, and even the forgotten souls who wander. Tonight is the celebration of life in honor of the dead. And if you are lucky enough to live somewhere with a celebration, its time to paint your face like a skeleton and join the parade!!