There's something spine-chilling happening in Paris! It's drawing the undead.
As a child, I looked forward to my mother’s homemade pecan pralines every Christmas. The sugary, nut-studded treats practically defined the holiday.
When Austin traffic slows to a crawl on Interstate 35, as it often does, travelers can safely catch glimpses of the Capitol and other historic landmarks. But if you really want to slow down and commune with the state’s dramatic past, take a detour off the highway onto East Seventh Street and drive six blocks east to the Texas State Cemetery. There, resting peacefully on 18 acres of landscaped hills, lie the earthly remains of thousands of the movers and shakers of the Lone Star State.
Imagine you’re a young soldier in the late 1800s, assigned to Fort Davis, a military post located in far West Texas. With a life expectancy of only 48 years (33 if you’re African American), you’ve got little spare time to ponder the inevitable. Besides, you’re too busy tending to the basics of military life—practicing drills, hauling water, taking care of the cavalry horses and other livestock, cutting wood for heat, escorting citizens across the Big Bend country, or fending off attacks by unfriendly Comanches. With little time left for anything else (except maybe an occasional binge at the local tavern), you’re definitely not sweating the small stuff. But however arduous and uncertain your life may be, it’s the small stuff that constitutes your greatest danger in the form of invisible germs, present everywhere in your unsanitary surroundings.
The first day of autumn officially falls in September each year, but to me, the final days of October really herald the changing season. With the sun’s rays striking the earth at a shallower angle, the light softens and dapples the landscape with a honeyed glow. And for some reason, I think of new beginnings, friends and family members who have passed on, and the mysterious quickening of time.
It will be dusk or already dark as you enter through the gates at Screams Halloween Theme Park in Waxahachie, flames shooting skyward from the parapet of the haunted castle, fog rolling down the hill. You’ll walk past a cemetery, where mysterious dark figures lumber in the shadows. Immersed in Halloween for the evening—not just the 15 minutes or so that a standard haunted house might offer—you’re in for a frightful night. Lurking within are dozens of costumed actors, trained in the art of surprising their targets. After all, gory prosthetic wounds and menacing chainsaw props can only go so far: Getting scared is all about being startled.
The woman behind the registration desk at the Hotel Galvez glanced at the number as she handed me my keycard. “Oh, you’re staying in our special room,” she said, eyebrows raised. “Did you know that?”
While most associate Texas with the Wild West rather than the Deep South, there are towns in the Lone Star State that exude Southern charm and hospitality. To capture the genteel spirit of the South, I headed to Jefferson in the far reaches of Northeast Texas.
In the October 2013 issue, writer Laura Samuel Meyn takes readers to Churchill’s Pub in McKinney, which hosts monthly Psychic Night readings and is said to be haunted. Churchill’s is a stop on the annual Legends of McKinney Ghost Walks (October 19 and 26 this year), as are several buildings at Chestnut Square, a historical village a few blocks south of the downtown square.
My boyfriend seems unusually skittish as he peers into the utter blackness beyond our cabin door at Caddo Lake State Park. I’ve prepared two hot cups of ginger tea for us to sip on the porch in the crisp night air. But Marshall, willing only to open the door a crack, suggests that we enjoy our tea in the cozy confines of the cabin’s interior.
From her vantage point hundreds of feet above a grassy plain bisected by a meandering stream, Beth Yoes of Beaumont aimed her digital camera at the sweeping vista, clicked the shutter, and captured the breathtaking scene.