“Trick or Treat!”
For nearly 14 years, as we lived full time in our RV in remote locations on different National Wildlife Refuges around the country, we never heard those words. And now that we have acquired a residence in a 55 plus community near Phoenix, Arizona, for winter living, we probably still won’t hear them.
In the Park
Generally, we volunteer at White Tank Mountain Regional Park in Waddell, Arizona; but a week before Halloween, we were invited to take our snakes and skulls to an evening Halloween event at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, Arizona, another of the Maricopa County Regional Parks. At this spooky festivity, we heard “Trick or Treat!” many times, and each time brought smiles to our faces.
Be Scary and Educate
Our presence with snakes and skulls, of course, was to “scare” the kiddies, as well as educate, because Halloween is, of course, a frightening occasion. But kids these days are battle hardened and difficult to intimidate.
That night, we set up on two tables – one that Chuck manned with the snakes, and one that I staffed with my skulls. We were given a couple large bags of candy to hand out. We were also each given a lantern to shed a bit of light on our subjects and perhaps even make them spookier. On this calm, warm, dark evening, the lanterns attracted a plethora of assorted insects that flitted enthusiastically around the light.
Finally, the first group of children arrived with their bags and plastic pumpkins to collect their booty. “Trick or Treat!” they called out as they approached. I picked up the mountain lion skull, opened its jaws, and held it toward the smallest member of the group. “I can fit your whole head in here!” I warned him as I advanced toward him displaying the puma’s open mouth full of dagger-like canines and razor-sharp molars.
Rather than backing off in terror, the youngster pointed to the lantern covered with insects. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “Look at all the bugs!”
I was reminded of school tours we led at the Denver Zoo as docents. We could be talking about endangered okapis or enormous Komodo dragons or lumbering Asian elephants, but many of the children were enthralled instead with the squirrels running free on the grounds.
I glanced at the light and wondered how many of these Trick-or Treaters spent much time outside at night to witness a congregation of bugs such as these surrounding the lantern, some of them even scarier than the skulls and snakes were meant to be.
So while I continued to demonstrate different skulls to approaching goblins, I encouraged them to take time to marvel over the swarm of creepier subjects as well. After all, Halloween is about scary stuff, isn’t it?
Trick or Treat!