Stephanie Burgis
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Well, Halloween's over, but rural Leeds is powering up for Bonfire Night. Our house is on top of a hill, and last night the fireworks on all sides were so loud and close that it sounded like the middle of a war zone. Nika hated it--she kept barking fiercely at the windows and the front door. But when we stood outside, we could see beautiful fireworks exploding in pink and purple and yellow on all sides of the city.

And that was four days before the real thing....!

This Halloween was actually the first one in years that's felt "real" to me. During my last couple years in the US, I was living in a wonderful neighborhood in Pittsburgh that was completely filled with Russian immigrants who hadn't adapted that far to American cultural traditions. Every year I bought loads of candy to give out...and every year I ended up eating it myself over the next few weeks! (So it wasn't all bad....)

On Friday, we had about seven very shy and polite trick-or-treaters show up at our door. They were very sweet, and I had a good time, but poor Nika just flipped out. Normally, when the doorbell rings, she runs over, barking with excitement, and greets the visitors with wags and (if we let her) licks. So, the first time a group of trick-or-treaters knocked, she came running eagerly over, I opened the door--and she was confronted by monsters. They had no faces! (They all wore rubber skeleton masks, except for one small and semi-disturbing Osama Bin Laden.) They were monsters! She went wild. I locked her in the kitchen, and kept her there for all the rest of the trick-or-treaters, but she spent the rest of the evening acting worried and suspicious. Ever since then, she's treated the door-bell with some wariness. After all, you never know when a skeleton might just be waiting to steal your candy.

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