Writer’s Block: Hocus Pocus

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

“Double, double, toil and trouble;/ Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”

Thus chanted the three witches when Macbeth chanced upon them in a wood in the darkness of night. The witches were up to no good as they stood in the forest brewing up an unsightly stew filled with such ingredients as an “eye of newt and toe of frog,” among other unsavory items.

You can picture it in your mind right now, can’t you? A large, cast iron caldron suspended low over a crackling bonfire in the middle of a soggy stand of trees that seem to press especially close in the suffocating darkness. The flames spitting embers and licking up the sides of the pot as each new unspeakable ingredient is added to the concoction.

You can just envision the witches — three haggard women with wiry hair and blemished skin. They are wearing loose garments dyed almost as black as the night surrounding them.

And you can practically hear their voices as they recite their refrain in chorus. Voices full of gravel and salt, yet somehow impossible to define. Dark, menacing, growling, almost. Grating in your ears and setting your teeth on edge.

It’s a right spooky image that perfectly encapsulates the otherworldly horror and fright of Halloween. Though William Shakespeare may not have intended it as such, the image of a trio of gnarly women toiling away at their witches’ brew has become a stereotype for our scariest of holidays.

Luckily, such intimidating creatures don’t really exist. And the frights of Halloween are all in good fun. Instead of bubbling brews of uncertain content, our cauldrons are filled with chocolates and lollipops and other spooky sweets.

Rather than the shrill chanting of Shakespeare’s prophetic trio, Halloween night is filled with the sounds of The Monster Mash, the Purple People Eater, or perhaps Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Halloween is a chance for kids big and small to play dress up. And it provides a handy excuse to cheat a little on your diet by indulging in a chocolate bar or two (or three!). I also love the cutesy jack-o-lanterns, golden-eyed black cats, and whimsical ghost decorations that pop up every October. I laughed when visiting my brother’s home recently as I noticed the telltale striped stockinged legs of the Wicked Witch of the East poking out from a potted plant by his front door.

Perhaps it’s because some of my favorite genres are science fiction, fantasy and magic realism that Halloween tickles my fancy. I love the possibilities it allows our imaginations, from home décor to blockbuster films.

But getting back to the witches and their brew — perhaps there is a way to make your own version at home this Halloween. All you need is a little lime sherbet and some lemon-lime soda. Pour some soda over a scoop or two of sherbet and watch it fizz and bubble like a magic potion. Add a couple of gummy worms and you’ve got a truly terrifying beverage!

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