Story last updated at 10/28/2009 - 12:17 pm
The earliest Halloween memory I have is of being three years old, going to preschool and seeing my teacher dressed up as a clown. I was so frightened my mother had to take me home.
But by the time I was five or six, Halloween had become more fun than scary. Once I realized there were familiar faces behind the masks, costumes became less frightening. Halloween can quickly become more about getting lots of candy and less about getting scared - unless we raise the bar appropriately. So as we get older, we watch scary movies and visit haunted houses. We turn off the lights and tell ghost stories.
I'm starting to think residents of Southeast Alaska have a pretty high tolerance for the spooky. For the second year in a row, we tried asking people to come up with scary spots around Southeast, and again found that it's no easy task. There are some very good, spooky ghost stories about this area and a few wonderful people who are willing to share them, but most people I've asked to tell me about scary places just shrug and say they don't know any.
Then again, I think I've also become immune to my spooky surroundings.
A couple of years ago, I walked out my door to see at least thirty ravens perched on neighbors' roofs and fences. I'd never seen such a large gathering of ravens. Neat! I went back inside and grabbed my camera.
It was only a day or two later that I realized what I'd seen was a real-life scene that would have fit well in Hitchcock's "The Birds." And I think most people who don't live among ravens would find them even scarier than the seagulls and crows that predominated in that film.
A while after the raven incident, I was home alone one fall evening. It was just getting dark and I suddenly heard the back door rattle. I jumped a bit - was there someone there? I cautiously made my way towards the door and saw through the window that it was just the neighborhood black bear. What a relief!
Then there are the woods. I used to get a little uneasy walking in the woods at night, and I'll still admit to getting scared when I feel lost in the woods. But most of the time when I'm on a well-marked trail, even if it's dark, I might as well be walking along a brightly lit street.
We don't have a lot of brightly lit streets around here, now that I think about it. But that's okay, because I think it's pretty safe to say that at this latitude, it's hard to be afraid of the dark - what would you do all winter?
Likewise, it would be hard to live in a home that scared us, and many of us live comfortably in old buildings or in remote areas. Floorboards creak and we hear fierce winds hit our windows. Scary? Nah, we find these places cozy.
After all, where could we go that's more comforting while staying in Southeast? Our waters can be rough, and we've heard countless stories of shipwrecks and maybe heard the eerie voices of whales. If we climb out of the forest, above the tree line, we usually find ourselves on steep mountainsides.
It's probably in our best interest to put up a tough demeanor and not find our everyday surroundings scary. After all, there are enough real dangers around here without getting the creeps whenever you see a raven.
But once a year, when Halloween rolls around, it might be worth letting down your guard and finding a place to get the shivers. Check out the CCW's Official Top Ten Spookiest Spots in Juneau on page 4 for starters. If you're willing to be spooked, you probably don't need to travel farther than your own basement.
Katie Spielberger is the managing editor of the Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.