October 21, 2023
It’s the time of year when the universe reminds us that life means constant change. Our young sugar maple, pictured above, got the message before most of the trees here in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. Though lots of leaves are still green, the sweaters and extra blankets are out of the closet for cool days and downright chilly nights. The later sunrise makes it easier to sleep in, or oversleep.
I don’t argue with nature, but am not happy about another change: Halloween is becoming like Christmas. Every October, the neighbors go wild decorating their yards, trying to outdo each other.
The trees are full of little cloth ghosts, the ground is covered with fake bones and tombstones, giant spider webs hang from porches, and inflatable figures are everywhere. The second one took me a minute to figure out — oh, okay, that’s a Barbie-pink unicorn for All Hallows Eve!
The commercialism doesn’t stop with the yard, either. If you’re afraid the hot costumes this year are Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, you’re right. And unsupervised trick-or-treating is surely a thing of the past.
I don’t mean to be Grandpa Grumpy. I know all this makes children happy, which is what the holiday is for. But instead of those blow-up pumpkins, I’d like to display a real jack o’ lantern, the kind I used to carve with my dad.
If you’ve never done it: Take a decent-sized “punkin,” cut out a plug around the stem with your Scout knife, and scoop out the insides. Mark off the eyes and mouth with a pencil. Carefully cut the holes.
Put a candle inside, set it on the porch, and light the candle after dark. It may not look spectacular on Instagram but it’ll be something you made with your own hands. (It’s also cheaper than a bunch of big balloons.)