I am currently in a new season of my studies – the calendar indicates that I am getting closer to my dissertation deadline…which means I really need to kick my writing into high gear!

I am also getting to know the different seasons here in Australia. Lately I have been enjoying my first Spring season here – in October (?)

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Growing up in Canada, October was always a favourite time of year with Fall sights of pumpkin patches and the sounds of crunchy leaves. October also holds some of my favourite smells. The air was crisp or filled with the scent of chimneys or burning leaf piles. Often it was a month of rain, but I didn’t seem to mind, just one of the joys of living on the beautiful wetcoast westcoast. The rain would just bring out the colours of the leaves even more.

And, in BC, there was also the ‘rich’ smell of salmon at the end of their life cycle. I loved stopping at Goldstream Park in October or November – nothing quite like a salmon run. I still remember the shriek of a friend from Ontario…”They’re dead? I came here to watch dying salmon?!”

She, too, grew to love the salmon run 🙂

Although the rotting salmon smell almost makes your eyes water…the salmon’s ‘tail’ really is fascinating. I fondly remember studying the salmon life cycle with my primary students and, because the school year in Canada begins in the Fall, we started our study at the end of the life cycle with a smelly visit to Goldstream. In January, our school had a salmon incubation unit set up so students could watch tiny alevins emerge from salmon eggs! I particularly loved our Spring field trip to Goldstream when students released the baby salmon in April (and, of course, I enjoyed helping too)!

October also brings up memories of fun homemade Halloween costumes (…that were usually covered up with a raincoat). I still recall one of my favourites: my dad found a use for some of his old plastic corrugated real estate signs.

No…I wasn’t a walking advertisement for his property listings…but the plastic did hang on me like a sandwich board…

We had painted the blank white sides to look like I was a big package of spearmint gum – I think I went with green hair and green shoes too.

Given my experiences with ‘zombies’ lately (thanks to the great science program for kids at the Museum of Human Disease)…you may think that I liked the spooky nature of Halloween.

In honour of their “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse” program,
I dedicate the following clip to the Museum of Human Disease
Thanks for letting me collect ‘zombie’ data!


Sure I grew up watching Micheal Jackson’s Thriller on TV…
and read too many of my dad’s Stephen King books…
and watched lots of scary movies…but it’s not the scare-factor or unnecessary/unhealthy focus on evil that sticks out in my mind.

Thankfully, cute Halloween traditions also hold a spot in my memory!

Click on the picture to see a clip of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Click on the picture to see a clip of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

When I think of Halloween, I mostly recall the fun of dressing-up and collecting candy.

I also loved fireworks and always looked forward to fun fairs at school – I can still remember going through the ‘haunted’ dark corridor where we had to touch eyeballs (aka peeled grapes) and brains (…spaghetti has never been the same since!)

Even though the costumes changed each year, I also remember two constants:

  • dragging an old pillowcase ready to fill with door-to-door treats
  • getting my little orange cardboard Unicef box filled with pennies


I did a quick Google search and found out that after 50 years
Unicef ended the Canadian Halloween program in 2006 😦

I also found a quote that resinated with me:

“[I] can still remember the feeling of the kitchen twine
digging into your neck from the heavy Unicef box.
Parents collected pennies all year round for the orange boxes,
and you were thrilled with each penny drop”

Although the boxes aren’t worn by kids on Halloween in Canada anymore
(…and pennies aren’t even made anymore in Canada!),
Unicef still does great things through their mission to reduce poverty
and provide assistance to vulnerable people in crisis.

Another organization, the United Way, was in the news recently for trying to help eliminate poverty locally in Edmonton, Alberta.

Click to read the full story on poverty simulation

Click to read the full story on poverty simulation

I have previously posted* about my research experience with a project on poverty so it was particularly heartwarming to see those I had worked with at the University of Alberta highlighting the latest United Way campaign.

Real-life situations
experienced by vulnerable people in poverty…
now that is really scary.

So instead of closing our eyes as though we are watching a scary Halloween movie, just waiting for a fake spooky scene to be over, October can be a great time to look around and partner with organizations (like Unicef and the United Way) who help people enter a new season and find a happy ending.

*see Vulnerability or Community

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