After 29 years in Fairfield, I had my first experience with snow in October this past weekend. I watched the huge flakes through our den window on Saturday afternoon, calling and texting friends and relatives throughout the country with the bizarre news about Mother Nature's latest trick. But I knew the mayhem would be short lived, because our weather patterns haven't completely settled into a winter mode.

For my wife and me, this storm that dumped so much snow and wreaked havoc on the northern and western parts of the state, was just a few inches of heavy, wet, nuisance snow. For hundreds of thousands of others, however, including our daughter in Beacon Falls and our good friends in Trumbull and Westport, the snow meant downed trees and power lines and a reprise ofTropical Storm Irene -- no power.

Our daughter texted us late Saturday to say that she was powerless and planned to spend the night at a friend's home with her dog. Of course, we offered our home for shelter, but she assured us she was faring as well as could be expected. As of Tuesday, our daughter was still out of power.

We heard several horror stories from Westport friends, especially those north of the Merritt. Many of their trees, still laden with leaves, were buckling or collapsing and the weakened power lines added to their grief. A colleague of mine from the Fairfield Museum returned late Saturday night from an Asian trip to find her home pitch black, power out. She and her husband were fortunate enough to stay with the friends who had been watching their kids.

Another was managing somewhat with their generator, but it was hardly paradise.

On Tuesday, I finally managed to contact another friend from the Litchfield Hills where I work with a second-home community. I had been trying the main office number for days and getting a constant busy signal. My friend was beside herself and shared that after three days she and her husband had approached one of the shelters only to learn that they wouldn't accept her dog.

I felt terrible and offered our home, but it would have been too long a drive. "You just can't imagine what's it's like up here," she said. "People are using their barbecue grills to keep warm and our great maintenance staff have been working 24/7 to clear trees and power lines.

By Sunday, things had warmed up enough to melt most our snow, but some ice patches remained along with school outages. So school was canceled Monday in Fairfield, mostly because one or two schools were still without power. When I subbed this week, I found a lot of teachers wondering about possible loss of vacations due to snow days and asking, "What's next? It's barely November.

Even Halloween trick or treating came with warnings about ice and cold temperatures, but we were still bombarded with nearly 100 kids, ringing the bell for a solid three-and-a-half hours and sending our three neurotic dogs into howling and barking fits. At one point, I glanced across my lawn and there were easily six cars parked at the curb. This was not your neighborhood trick or treaters. My wife and I tried to guess how far they'd come for a one-night candy fix.

Despite the weather, I gave out handfuls of mini-tootsie rolls from a bag of nearly 800. Believe it or not, I almost ran out.

I learned on Monday that our well supported Halloween Legends and Hauntings at the museum was snowed out for Saturday, but nearly 60 hearty souls braved another cold night for the second two-hour walk on Sunday. Thank goodness for two-day events.

Mother Nature turned Fairfield upside down again this past weekend and it's hard to say when everything will be straightened out. I wasn't sure whether to wish my colleagues happy holidays or Happy Halloween on Monday, but no one was at a loss for words.

We clearly experienced a fluke event whose aftermath would take months to undo. But the good news is that, despite the power outages and other difficulties, most folks with whom I chatted at one of my favorite diners on Monday, still managed to have a good laugh over what happened. If anything, most lamented not having raked leaves when they had the opportunity.

Others just chuckled and said, "Spring is probably just around the corner."

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer whose "In the Suburb"s appears each Friday. He can be reached at steven.gaynes@yahoo.com.