Red leaves overhead, Halloween yellow and orange ones crunching under your feet. When we were kids we knew you could try any house with the light on but we preferred the pumpkins with their scary lit-up faces. It showed good intentions, we felt. No one approached the witch’s Victorian mansion complete with a widow’s walk high above the street. And no one went to the dismal bungalow hidden behind from the road by overgrown shrubbery. If you went in there, who would hear your screams? Anyway even the ordinary homes with lights on were maybe not safe. They might not take kindly to little spidermen in red and blue with gelled hair. Or to princesses in their pink dresses and home-made foil crowns.
But the potential dangers or prowling in the dark asking for candy gave our Halloween sorties a thrilling edge. In the night, in costume, you tried out the grownup role. You went out into the world trying to judge for yourself the pros and cons, the safety and the risks of your actions. For a few hours you were in charge. Loaded down with candy, you learned that the world could be a generous place.