Tzompantli Pumpkin

Tzompantli is the nahuatl word for a wooden rack used by the Zapotecs and Toltecs for the decorative architectural display of sacrificed human heads—images of which appear all over Central America in pre-Colombian stone carvings, murals, and scrolls, and no doubt have had at least some small influence on the modern celebration of the day of the dead.

Maize God Bows to Death God


Maize God trying forlornly to get used to his new winter abode on the window-bench above the Sandman comics.

This week I declared garden season officially over, so dug up and brought in some herbs: chives, parsley, rosemary, basil, and oregano. Maize God, Owl and Jasper came in too. Though the lemon thyme is still out there waiting. Ran out of potting medium. Amazingly, though there has been frost practically every night for the last couple of weeks, the sun gold tomato plant in the pot outside my front door still produces a new tomato every few days. Not the most delicious tomato ever, but I am impressed with its resilience.

We had a monster of a windstorm last night—one of those weird, last-gasp summer thunderstorms where the power goes out, the branches batter the window screens, and it’s 30 degrees warmer than it ought to be. Which is how I found myself sitting about drinking barleywine in the dark, flipping through precolombian art books by candlelight for pumpkin-carving inspiration, and taking low-light photos of my apartment to pass the time.

Look what popped up in my email this morning, thanks to my “mossy skull” Google alert:

Dancing Crow Pumpkin

This may or may not be my official pumpkin carving for the season. I have wild ambitions for something really complicated, a cylindrical frieze featuring the Mayan death god. But that will require several hours of dedicated free time, and considering how neglected this here blog has been of late, such time may never materialize.

So just in case I never get around to it: Happy Hallowe’en! Grab that fiddle and a jug of barley-wine and head down to the fields for a moon dance!

Cold Mountain water
the jade merchant’s daughter
Mountains of the Moon,
Elektra, bow and bend to me
Hi ho the Carrion Crow
Folderol-de-riddle
Hi Ho the Carrion Crow
Bow and bend to me

—Robert Hunter, “Mountains of the Moon”

Berkshires in Late Fall


This is some kind of serious glacial anomaly I came across after getting my socks soaked in Chesterfield Gorge. The picture doesn’t really convey the size—the rock is maybe 9 feet across and at least 3 feet tall (not including the part of it that’s submerged in mud). It doesn’t match any of the rock of the surrounding gorge, as you will note from the next picture. It’s sculpted so smooth by the water it almost looks like carved marble. I wonder how it got here.


The usual local rock, sedimentary shale.


Horse Mountain, Haydenville, MA. The white fuzzy stick-animals are alpacas.