Halloween put me in mind of my favorite pumpkin, Jack Pumpkinhead from The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by John R. Neill. My father taught a University class of Children’s Literature, and the volumes from the reading list had a magic allure. Flipping through my father’s annotated copy, the illustration of General Jinjur caught my eye. The shades of blue-green, the yellow boots and General Jinjur’s splendid skirt.
Tip was so anxious to rejoin his man Jack and the Saw-Horse that he walked a full half the distance to the Emerald City without stopping to rest. Then he discovered that he was hungry and the crackers and cheese he had provided for the Journey had all been eaten.
While wondering what he should do in this emergency he came upon a girl sitting by the roadside. She wore a costume that struck the boy as being remarkably brilliant: her silken waist being of emerald green and her skirt of four distinct colors — blue in front, yellow at the left side, red at the back and purple at the right side. Fastening the waist in front were four buttons — the top one blue, the next yellow, a third red and the last purple.
The convergence of colors in the skirt reminds me of gradating color in my mosaics, and the scene of an entire army of girls converging on the Emerald City, with difference variations of the colors in their skirts. They are an Army of Revolt, marching to overthrow the city, and Tip is baffled that they have no weapons, but then he realizes each girl has two long glittering knitting needles stuck in her hair. The Guardian of the Gate tells the girls to go home to their mothers to milk the cows and bake the bread, and queried, “Don’t you know it’s a dangerous thing to conquer a city?” They took the knitting needles out of their buns, and just enough jabbing to get the key away from the Guardian, and overthrow the city.
Dressing as General Jinjur would make a most excellent Halloween costume, and as a knitter, I would be ready to be in her army. My memories of Halloween in Edmonton involve constructing costumes that could incorporate a winter coat.