A question on another board got me thinking about going gray. People in my family who have lighter hair (light brown to dark blonde) typically don't go gray for a very long time. The darker-haired (as dark as black) ones tend to gray very early.
My hair is honey-colored (just determined that today by looking at my bottle of honey and saying, "Oh my goddess, that's what color my hair is." So, perhaps I won't go gray for a while yet.
Some woman on another board was 40 and had some grays and was wondering about why people made so many comments about why she should cut it. And I posted a short response but it disappeared.
But here's how I visualize it:
It's Hallowe'en in Glendora, California. The leaves haven't really changed; most trees there don't have leaves that change at all, and of the ones that do, it won't happen until closer to Christmastime.
But it is Hallowe'en all the same, and the children, like children everywhere, are wandering the streets like ragamuffins, seeking candy, money or anything else they can get their hands on, but best of all, being loud and stomping around and being ALLOWED to do it...to their eyes, possibly the best part about Hallowe'en. Even better than the candy. Maybe.
A witch and a boy with a President Farley mask stop short before the pretty little house on the corner, right next to where the highway begins. Trees surround the perimeter and are hemmed in with a tall wrought-iron gate. The children glance at one another.
Should they go in?
I mean, that's where she
lives: Mrs. H. That kinda-weird old lady.
Mrs. H. used to be a mommy, a long time ago. At least that's what they say. Being still very young themselves, the children are not thinking through to the fact that she probably still is a mommy--just not to very small children anymore.
Mrs. H. is...different. Oh, she's always very nice to the children when they happen to drop a ball into her yard. Not that they stay long enough to find out. Mrs. H. just isn't like other grandmas on their block. She's always talking about history--not regular history, like who was president back in 2014 or how President Bush resigned following a scandal in, um...when was it? 2004? 2005? The children can't quite remember.
But no...that's not the sort of history Mrs. H. likes. Mrs. H. likes to look at one child's face and call it Machiavellian. What the heck does that mean? Instead of asking them how school is going or if they've been eating vegetables lately, like normal grownups do, Mrs. H. asks, "What would you like to be when you grow up? I mean what would you really like to be? A doctor? A daredevil? A dragon?" and she says it like she means
Maybe she's crazy.
Plus, there's that hair.
What old lady wears a braid down to her heiney, for goodness sake? And it's all gray. Or, as Mrs. H. would write it, grey. Like she's a thousand years old or something. Maybe she is! She does wear those funny old-fasioned glasses...like something out of the early 2000's...you know, that kind you only find for costumes now, very small with black rims.
The children debate for a while; then, the witch--the much braver of the two--approaches the door, and goes to knock.
But the door opens before her little knuckles can hit it, and there she stands. Mrs. H.
The children stare up, rooted to the spot. Mrs. H. reaches behind her back. What does she have back there? A magic potion? A knife? Maybe she's going to snatch them right where they stand. The children tense to bolt.
And Mrs. H. delivers, from behind her hand...
They stare down at the proferred and very dubious treasures. The witch's book is called "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." The pretend-president's is "Le Morte de Arthur."
"Open them," old Mrs. H. says with a twinkle in her hazel eyes.
Afraid to disobey, the children open their books simultaneously.
And there, inside each cover, is....THIRTY dollars.
The children steal looks at one another, grins splitting their faces under their masks.
"That's a bit of money," Mrs. H. says. "Probably as much as two weeks' allowance...though in my day, we got two dollars." The kids nod, not really listening. Everybody knows things cost a lot more in the old days; such talk is boring.
"You can spend it on...oh, a number of different things," Mrs. H. goes on. "Whatever you like, really. But...I wanted to make a deal with each of you."
The children glance at eachother again. "A deal?" the witch pipes up. Her fingers are itching to grab that money and pull it close just for the sheer joy of it, but after all, they've just been given a present; they have to be polite.
"The deal is this," Mrs. H. smiles, and her smile is gentle and full of love; not at all creepy as they would have expected from the tales they've gleaned off their friends. "You can spend that money on candy or two days of a video game rental, or two days' lunch money; OR, you can read the book, buy another and come back."
The fake-president hides a snicker. Yeah, right. "Okay, Mrs. H.," he says. He's more chicken than his sister, the witch, but he's also a parent-pleaser, and he knows how to make them happy, just long enough to get what he wants.
"If you do," she says, "I will let you keep the change; but I will also give you more money, on the condition that you buy another book with it."
The children nod eagerly. They can buy a book and stick it on the shelf; big deal. In the meantime they'll be making more money! They'll just get a cheap-o leaflet or something and say they got a book, and.......
"Now here's the condition," Mrs. H. says. "In order to get the money for a new book, you have to come back and discuss these with me. If I feel you've read them...then, more money, and more books. If you want." She eyeballs them both, sternly but not unkindly. "On your honor, that time. I would trust you."
The children leave, their footsteps slow. "I'll look it up on the Worldwave and give her a few answers," says the quiet but quick-thinking fake-president. "Then...money money money! Who reads a real book anymore, anyway? I mean, it's made out of paper! What a waste."
But the witch is thinking. She's thinking about the old lady who really wasn't so scary after all. And about her long, long, long gray...no, grey...braid. And about how she's so different from other grownups. And about that look of trust in her eyes.
"Me too," she says quickly to her brother, "that's exactly what I'll do too. Heh heh. Good trick on that old bat."
But deep in her heart, that's not what she'll do at all. She'll say she did...she doesn't want to seem uncool, even to a little jackass like her dopey brother. But...what she does on her own time is her own business, right?
She's curious. Amazingly, she wants to see strange old Mrs. H. Just to find out more about her. See what makes her tick.
And see that unbelieveable library that she peeked at over Mrs. H.'s shoulder when the door was open. Who owns that many books? They must have lined an entire wall. Looked like part of the other wall, too.
That night, the little witch is transformed back into Patty, and can be found spread out on her bed, turning the pages of "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" with sticky fingers.