Ray Bradbury Is So Cool

I was settling into my annual reading of The Halloween Tree, which is a ritual I have invoked and maintained for the last few post-Halloweens–a great way to come down from the witches’ high of the Big Night and prepare for Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead.  I was savoring my copy of the book–pilfered from my Grandma’s basement when I was but a teen–and I noticed something for the first time in several years. The words on the dedication page read thus:

With love for

MADAM MAN’HA GAREEAU-DOMBASLE

met twenty-seven years ago in the graveyard at midnight on the Island of Janitzio at Lake Patzcuaro, Mexico, and rememebered on each anniversary of The Day of the Dead

Oh now, I have read these words before. But I hadn’t noticed them of late and this is significant because I actually visited that island! I guess Ray Bradbury was in my subconcious because two years ago on The Day of the Dead I was crouching behind mourners and candlelight vigils, taking orb-ladened photos and sips from a flask as the icy chill of midnight and the mountain lake’s waters settled all around us.  I was in the same cemetery as Bradbury, doing the same thing. Only he is way cooler because he did it back before it was really something tourist did. The influence of the Mexican culture, specifically their Day of the Dead tratiitons are all over Bradbury’s books.

In honor of his friend, and in honor of a few of mine who have gone to the great beyond, tonight I burn the candle I bought on Isla Janitzio those moons ago. And I think of those who have passed, the loved ones, the family and friends, and even the forgotten souls who wander. Tonight is the celebration of life in honor of the dead. And if you are lucky enough to live somewhere with a celebration, its time to paint your face like a skeleton and join the parade!!

Mummies R Us

I was reading in the paper today about the climber from Maine who went missing in Canada twenty-one years ago.William Holland had been hiking on Snow Dome Mountain in the Canadian Rockies when he slipped and fell. His body was found this month by a pair of hikers. The body had been preserved in glacial ice and had a mummy like appearance when found.

This got me to thinking about Mummies and this amazing town in Mexico called Guanajuato. This city is famous for many things, among them a cemetery where every one in one hundred bodies become naturally mummified! This was proven thanks to a  late 1800’s law that required grave taxes be paid. Poor families that could not make the payments had to suffer their loved ones to be unearthed. It was discovered that many of them were mummified, and they are on display today in a museum there. Mummy souvenirs including little candied mummies are available for purchase. (MMMM! Sugar mummies!!!) Ray Bradbury wrote a book called Mummies of Guanajuato, and included the town and other villages in Mexico in several of his fictional short stories.