Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

This is our first Halloween in the new neighbourhood, and turns out it’s a big deal in these parts. Soon after the 1st of October, everyone on our little cul-de-sac breaks out running kilometers of fake spiderwebbing, along with gigantic spiders (also either fake or extremely tame), witches in flowing black robes dangling from trees and so on. One neighbour has draped swaths of tattered, shredded fabric all over the exterior of her home. She’s out there every day on the ladder, artfully placing more off her eaves or downspouts or window frames. The slightest breeze and it looks spectacular!

Our previous efforts in the way of Halloween decoration had never exceeded two jack-o-lanterns (one per child under our ownership), plus a pressure pad that slipped under our Welcome mat and shrieked hideously when stepped upon. It used to make me so nervous; I’d hover near the front window and when any child who appeared to be under the age of five approached, I’d fling open the door and start babbling a warning. They could try the screaming mat if they wished, but I wanted the wee ones to be prepared first! My own children thought I was not only a killjoy, but probably more frightening than the mat itself as I burst out the door making warning handsigns and appearing bizarrely possessive of my doormat.

In any case, we now feel obliged, as the New People, to do our part in creepifying our little street. So I’ve hung a large and ghastly witchy-skeletony object directly under our porch light. I’ve draped glow-in-the-dark Frankenstein heads along the railing. I have affixed a large cover to our front door that makes it appear you are approaching a haunted house. And I have placed a number of big pumpkins around in my garden and on the front porch. (They are not jack-o-lanterns because I am no longer in possession of any children who wish to carve them, and it’s certainly not something I’ll do without the impetus and assistance of a child.)

Now, as I placed these pumpkins around the property about a week ago, some in the front garden right next to the street, I cynically wondered how many days, or possibly even hours, they would remain there. Much though I loved my old neighbourhood and even though it was a very nice neighbourhood, I am in no doubt that pumpkins left lying around would be very quickly liberated by roving groups of teens, most likely to be victims of science experiments involving firecrackers, or possibly just thrown from great heights for another type of satisfying explosion. As teenage vandalism goes, this is way down on the seriousness list. Far better my pumpkin meet up with firecrackers than some poor cat!

So I was quite resigned and fully expecting that having put the pumpkins out so far before Halloween night, I would be replacing them once or twice. But in fact, they have not been touched. Every morning when I get up and see they’re all still there, I’m amazed. I feel as if I’ve entered some sort of Mister Rogers Neighbourhood of Make Believe. I have been lulled into starting to leave my door unlocked when I go out grocery shopping, because it’s so nice to not have to fumble with keys when toting in my bags of provisions.

Never mind that the people next door are in the process of divorcing but can’t find a buyer for their house and are therefore very tense and have some riproaring verbal battles full of extremely colourful language. We can’t hear them as well since the weather has cooled off and windows are closed. Mind you, they’d often end the battles by firing up some giggle weed and everything would get very calm, and with the windows closed, we can’t get any secondhand enjoyment of that, either.

Fun and games here in Brigadoon.

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