October is my favorite time of year. The weather gets cooler, the leaves change colors, and the spiders! They spin the most amazing webs here at the sanctuary, espeically the ones that hang from tree to tree. So amazing those creatures. I especially love the barn spiders. Can you say Charlotte's Web?!?
And speaking of spiders, let's not forget about Halloween. Such a fun holiday! I love all the costumes and decorations. It seems like people were extra generous with their decorating this year, which makes me very happy. I'm like a little kid again!
Guess who else loves Halloween here at the sanctuary? You guessed it! The pigs! They just love it. For the last two or three weeks, they've been spending their days planning out their costumes and their nights telling ghost stories all snuggled up in the straw. If you stand outside, you can hear them snorting and oinking to the twists and turns of the stories. Bobby just loves a good scare, so he's been sneaking up on everyone and letting out a loud OINK, sending the pigs scrambliong out of the barn in a terrible fright, straw flying everywhere.
But not everyone is planning to celebrate Halloween this year. Pedro's been strutting around oinking a fuss about the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and how the pigs should celebrate it instead of Halloween. He says the pigs shouldn't focus on all that morbid and scary stuff but should instead plan a feast and celebration for the pigs we've lost over the years, just like they do in Mexico.
I started to wonder how Pedro even knew about Día de los Muertos. But I guess it makes sense, because he and his wife Petunia had moved around a lot in their early years together, and I'm sure they met lots of pigs along the way. And it makes sense that they probably met some Mexican pigs who oinked in Spanish and taught them about traditional Mexican holidays like Día de los Muertos.
I was in the barn the other day, and I happened to hear Pedro whispering to Phoenix the rooster about Día de los Muertos and how he wished the other pigs would show more interest. Phoenix admitted to Pedro that he had no idea what Día de los Muertos was, so Pedro gave the rooster a little lesson. I snuck a little closer to the stall, crouched out of site, and eavedropped on their conversation. If I remember correctly, this is how the conversation went...
"You can’t blame me for loving Día de los Muertos, Phoenix. When I lost my lovely Petunia a couple of years ago, I didn't think I would survive the hurt. But this holiday keeps me going, because it’s the one night of the year when I know my lovely Petunia will come back to visit me for an entire night. All I have to do is create my ofrenda with all her favorite things and beckon her back to Earth from Rainbow Bridge."
Well, Phoenix didn't know what an ofrenda was either, so Pedro had to explain that as well. "My ofrenda will be a magnificent altar of all of Petunia's favorite things. It'll have her pictures displayed in colorful frames, bowls of fresh water to quench her thirst after the long journey, yummy food for her sweet belly, and all the treats she used to love when she was here. I'll light tall candles and spread out all kinds of fragrant flower petals. I'll even burn incense to fill the air and keep it sacred just for her. Even the birds have agreed to sing the music for us. It will be absolutely perfect, Phoenix!"
I slowly stood up and peeked over the stall to get a better view. From my vantage point, I could see that Phoenix was completely hooked. His orange eyes were wide open, staring straight at the pig. Then he scooted his featherly body over a little closer to Pedro, who was starting to tear up as he talked about his beautiful Petunia.
Phoenix cocked his head to the side and said, "So it seems to me that Día de los Muertos is a time to celebrate and honor the ones we've lost, not a time to mourn over them. Is that right, Pedro?"
Pedro said, "That's exactly right, Phoenix. And the ofrendas are there for us to show how much we love them and give them a reason to come back and visit. You can think of an ofrenda as a way for those of us left behind to put our fond memories on display and make sure our loved ones aren't forgotten."
Pedro stood up and huffed an oink in excitement. "It'll be a whole night of music, fun, feasting, and celebration with my darling Petunia. She'll be all mine again for the entire night!"
Phoenix was very moved by all this talk about Día de los Muertos, and he could see just how determined Pedro was to make it a special night. He promised Pedro he would help him find items for his ofrenda, and with that, Pedro gave Phoenix a big smile and patted his scaly foot with his hoof.
It was such a beautiful moment that I decided I needed to sneak out of the barn before I also started tearing up and lost my cover. But I'm glad I stayed and listened, because now I know what the sneaking around and whispering is all about. And I also know why I'm starting to see the makings of a beautiful ofrenda in the corner of the woods with a clearing just big enough for two pigs to cuddle and dance the night away.