I Would Sell My Soul for This Dutch Oven
Some years back when a neighbor I'd only met twice at most, was attempting to insult me, he added a p.s. to a Facebook message saying, "By the way, Halloween is only once a year." We've both learned and grown and buried the scythe but there's one thing I still want to get off my chest and that is: No. Y'all can go ahead and enjoy your Spooky Season but for elder-goths and baby bats and every dark soul in between, in the immortal words of Ministry's Al Jourgensen, every day is Halloween. Or at least it can be if you do all your housewares shopping in the month of October like my husband and I do.
Our anniversary is in early October and I swooped in the second that the John Derian line of products for Target's Threshold line was available and bought the majority of it as his gift. (He got me lights for my indoor citrus trees.) Lest you think I'm exaggerating, an entire swath of wall in my orange and black chalkboard-painted kitchen is occupied by a nearly five-foot tall cardboard Beistle witch, there is a massive tin Cthulu backsplash behind the stove, and you can't look in any direction for very long before spotting a skull, spiderweb, or Robert Smith's head.
But there's still one thing missing: a cast iron Dutch oven, shaped like a pumpkin. This isn't just something I hallucinated after too much absinthe one night. The legendary cast iron brand Staub makes this beauty in a matte black finish, dense as a dying star, and topped with a shiny gold handle that's gnarled and knobbled like its real-life counterpart. It comes in harvest orange or white finishes that are quite fetching as well (and cost a little less), but it's not like you could show up at Gollum's cave with a Tiffany box and he'd be all coolcoolcool, no more quest for me. I wants what I wants, but I can't quite let myself have it. Not gonna lie, this thing is pricey and I do in fact own its black matte, tomato-shaped counterpart so it feels too indulgent. Even if I tell myself that tomatoes are SummerGoth and pumpkins are AutumnGoth, and it's an object that will last a lifetime.
And beyond. As per Goth law, and lately, in mourning my newly-lost parent from many states away, I have been spending hours and hours wandering the grounds of Green-Wood Cemetery. It's a centuries-old, 478-acre space of respite in the middle of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with a robust and respectful arts program and a deep commitment to the natural world. On a recent walk (headphones on and listening to artist Gelsey Bell's gorgeous audio tour) I came upon a confluence of curious things. First, a very old grave marker that looked for all the world like a giant soup tureen, rendered in stone (I stopped just short of knocking on it to see if it was secretly metal). Second, a weather-faded, painted stone Dopey standing eternal watch over the grave of a family with an apparently shared sense of whimsy. Third, many, many gravesites, both fresh and aged, newly decorated for Halloween with scarecrows, pumpkins, cornstalks, garlands, skulls, dolls, and flowers in autumn hues. Granted, my heart is especially mushy as of late, but it was so very tender to me—both the joyful inclusion of the dearly departed in holiday festivities, and the unapologetic celebration of who these people were in life.
A black, cast-iron pumpkin Dutch oven is the nexus of so many parts of me: metalsmith, cook, lover of the macabre. I can't not think that would be a great place for my mortal, ashed-down cremains to find their lasting, Halloween-loving place. Maybe I'll stew on that.