Trick or Treat

For several years when my two kids were young, we’d gather a whole group of their friends on Halloween and take them door to door together. The hubs and I took turn about chaperoning the ghouls and staying home to pass out treats. Afterward, the whole group of kids, along with some of their parents, would hang out at our house to play games, negotiate candy swaps, and enjoy the full rush of the sugar buzz. We and the families in our circle weren’t ones to give allow junk food on the regular, so this was real debauchery for our kids — a day when food rules went out the window.

The absence of children in my household doesn’t mean I’ve grown any less fond of Halloween. I love that we have a day where it’s acceptable to dress in costumes and eat candy. Pumpkin carving is often the one single craft project I do all year. I enjoy strolling around my neighborhood taking in the creativity with which my community decorates. It’s fun to be a little scared in a safe way. Trick-or-treating is my favorite part. In fact, I might have overreacted when I heard a radio spot for an organized downtown activity touted as “a safe alternative to trick-or-treating.” I might have yelled something about propaganda designed to draw families to retail outlets instead of homes.

I still indulge whole heartedly in passing out treats at the front door while oohing and aahing over superheroes and ghosts and knights. We generally had pretty high numbers of kids coming by keeping me entertained until about three or four years ago. The count started tapering off as the children on our block grew up and flew the nest. Then the neighbors around us stopped participating, leaving their houses dark and uninviting. Then the pandemic hit and we really bottomed out.

But I decided to level up this year to try to lure the trick-or-treaters back. Though our family jack-o-lantern game is strong, we haven’t usually done much else in the way of decorating. And this year, we won’t even have carved pumpkins because the squirrels ate them. However, I fashioned a ghost to hang from a tree in our yard, as well as a few big, fake spiders. And then there’s this treasure I found:

That’s visible from the street. Wish me luck!

Happy Halloween!


Pumpkin Spice Pest Season

We have pumpkin woes at my house.

Earlier in the year, we realized a volunteer pumpkin vine had sprouted in our back yard. It spread and spread and flowered and flowered. I envisioned a bumper crop of orange gourds, going so far as to fantasize about homemade pies and homegrown jack-o-lanterns. What we got was one lonely little pumpkin that topped out about 6 inches in diameter. Nevertheless, I’ve conducted near-daily wellness checks on it, still taking joy in this unexpected, if modest, prize. I was only waiting for it to ripen before picking it.

Our home sits on a half-acre lot, so our yard is sizable. And in that big expanse, somehow a group of cucumber beetles knew to show up for the one single thing they could eat — our single solitary wee pumpkin.

Yellow beetle with black spots, eating a gourd.
Spotted cucumber beetle

Oh no, you don’t! We’ve already lost enough to the neighborhood deer herd. I wasn’t about to let this new pest win. I brushed the insects from the poor beleaguered thing (I’ve bonded with it, okay?) and brought it safely inside.

Small green (with a little orange) pumpkin on a countertop.
Wee little pumpkin

I’m not sure what I plan to do with it, other than let it sit in the dining room and look autumnal, but at least I have it.

As for jack-o-lanterns, the spouse and I picked up some nice big carving pumpkins from the grocery store, planning to cut our spooky designs two or three days before Halloween.

If only it weren’t for the hungry squirrels…

Large orange pumpkin with a large gnawed area

So it goes.