Saturday, September 20, 2008
I have always thought Autumn to be the best time to decorate. There is such an abundance of choice: pumpkins, gourds, hay bales, corn stalks, scarecrows, chrysanthemums, Halloween creatures and such.
People in New England love to decorate with corn stalks, scarecrows and hay bales. You see a great many homes taking this last stab at color before the winter descends and turns everything grey and white. I have been planting chrysanthemums. I'm also buying the small colorful gourds and miniature hay bales to create a centerpiece for the table. We have a party every Fall and we're getting ready for it in advance.
Halloween is just around the corner and that is fun no matter where you live. Everybody gets into the act.
We once lived in an historic part of Richmond, Virginia, popularly known as The Fan. The Fan is a Georgetown-style neighborhood of brick town homes and row houses with tiny front yards and sidewalks. Every Halloween, one block up, was the most popular Halloween trick-or-treat street in the city. This particular block went all out to decorate. Ghosts, goblins and witches were strung across the street from one upper story to another, flying back and forth. Tombstones with every conceivable inscription were laid out in front yard squares, some with hands trying to dig their way out of the graves. Little white ghosts, made with Styrofoam balls wrapped in tiny white cloths that tightened and trailed beneath hung from the trees. My mother-in-law said these were "gumps" an old fashioned term for the decoration. Many neighbors filled lunch-sized brown paper bags with sand, inserting lit candles for a shadowy effect. Elaborately carved pumpkins decorated every porch, stoop and window. People dressed as witches, ghouls or dead people hid in bushes by their front doors to scare the be-Jesus out of visitors. One guy had an old fashioned cheap coffin in his yard, narrow at the foot and broad at the top. He was dressed as Dracula and would slowly raise the lid and sit up as people approached his front steps. I've never seen anything like it before or since.
Corn mazes seem to be the popular attraction now. Many farmers have their corn fields plowed into elaborate configurations and charge people money to find their way in and out. From the sky these mazes are quite beautiful. Great money maker for the farmer and alot of fun for the participant.
Here's to crisp apples, changing leaves, hot cider, cool nights, thick soups and crackling fires.