At 6 pm sharp, I sent the girls out for the first phase of trick-or-treating, where I stay home with the candy while they go up our dead-end street to beg candy off our closest neighbors by daylight. Despite the face Emily is making here, she and Hazel hardly made a terrifying pair, merrily dashing from house to house, a pair of sisters performing their mischievous begging rites with a setting sun and a slender crescent moon.
It was about 6:30 and dusk when Brian got home and we set off for the larger adventure, a loop street a quarter mile walk away which we knew is a mecca for trick-or-treat. We had never done this larger loop before, for a variety of reasons, but mostly related to the amount of walking. I think of Halloween as a walking holiday, but given that the girls can fill their bags just by going on our own street, the motivation here was beyond candy and into Halloween culture.
We found the loop crawling with children, parents, and polite, happy teenagers of all ages bedecked and sociable. I recognized some, but many looked at me quizzically, expecting to know everyone but failing to recognize us newbies, with our 3 year history in the neighborhood. It was dark by then, and mercifully without streetlights. The girls were spooked in one quiet, wooded section, but within seconds an adult Fred Flintstone and his family passed us and we were back in the scrum of candy and costumes. Despite Emily's makeup and practiced zombie-look, she was actually at her best, leading Hazel along and saying "Thank you" and "Happy Halloween" to at least 30 adults she'd never met.
But my favorite moment may have been just before we saw Fred Flintstone, when we were between houses and the stars were clear above us and the woods beside us on either side. In Chicago, Halloween was the only night we took the girls out after dark for a walk in the neighborhood. Here, we can go safely out any night, but I still revel in the rare delight of being mom, the steady, fearless adult who can take them out under the stars and trees, in the dark.