Surely we’re not the only house with a homemade coffin as a Halloween decoration, right? Hello? Anyone? Photo: Barbara Roden.

The Editor’s Desk: Leave those leaves

And of course it’s not too early to put up Halloween decorations.

Hey, it’s been a long time, but I’m back with some questions. Ah, my friend, I’ve missed you!

Well, it’s been kind of a weird summer, and I thought you probably had better things to do. I certainly had things to do that I didn’t anticipate at the beginning of summer, that’s a fact.

The leaves are starting to come off the trees. What’s the easiest way to deal with them? How good are you at turning a blind eye? Tell yourself that the leaves will, as they decompose, provide much-needed nutrition for the ground beneath. Keep telling yourself this until the first snowfall, when you won’t see the leaves anymore and can comfortably forget about them for several months.

It’s supposed to be a dry October, so should I wait a bit before getting my in-ground irrigation system flushed? That all depends on how keen you are about dealing with burst pipes come the spring. It’s your roll of the dice here.

Okay. So: what’s the deal with Halloween decorations? In my day you were doing well if you carved one pumpkin and had it beside the door on October 31; now people seem to be trying to re-create Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion in their front yards. Yes, Halloween displays are (in many cases) far more elaborate than they used to be, thanks to pop-up stores such as Halloween Alley and Spirit of Halloween that sell a huge variety of Halloween decorations. For many people, the time of carving a single jack-o-lantern and calling it a day is long past.

So what’s your take on it? I’m afraid you’ve (kind of) come to the wrong person. The Roden front yard boasts a wide variety of Halloween decorations from early in October until the night itself; but most of them (including a full-size coffin; I know it’s full-size from having tested it out) are homemade.

Homemade? That’s pretty hard-core. Never underestimate a mother who loves Halloween and horror, and a determined teenage son who shares these loves. He also has power tools and the ability to use them.

So I’m guessing you feel it’s okay to have Halloween decorations out already. In the immortal words of Sarah Palin: you betcha! Heck, I’d keep them up all year round, if I didn’t think the neighbours (particularly the one trying to sell her house) would be a bit worried if we had a gibbet—complete with dangling bodies—in our front yard in July.

This year seems to have gone by pretty fast, so I feel safe in asking about Christmas: specifically, Christmas lights, and when to put them up. Putting up Christmas lights is best done when the risk of frostbite is at a minimum, so anytime now is appropriate. Remember, you don’t have to flick the switch until December 1; but having them ready to go before that date is probably advisable, unless you really enjoy not being able to feel your extremities.

Is there a “hot new trend” in Christmas lights this year, similar to icicle lights a few years back, or the projection machines of the last year or so? Not that I’ve noted; but I think it’s safe to say that any “hot new trend” in 2017 will be yesterday’s news by Christmas 2018. Best to stick with tried-and-trusted strings of lights, and call it a day. Some old traditions are worth hanging on to.

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