The day after the day after


The day after Halloween always presents a challenge for me. Unlike Christmas, the decorations don’t feel right sitting up after that one night is over. I mean, sure, reindeer and snowmen look good for a whole winter, but how long do people want to see skeletons and ghosts?

So I tend to commit myself to wrapping up the whole holiday on the next day. Of course, the problem is, as my displays become progressively more expansive, so too does my clean-up.

But, after my morning semi-annual dental cleaning (and long-overdue x-rays) I parked the car in the driveway (sort of) and began the big tear down.

The skeletons

I was concerned I did not have enough bins for the exponential leap in animal skeletons this year, so on the way home from the dentist, I stopped in at Super Wal-Mart. They had plenty of bins. Pink. Purple. Red and Green (what a surprise). But only one black one. At Super Wal-Mart. Sheesh. I figured I needed about four more, but I wanted to get started and I could always make a run at the regular Wal-Mart a couple of miles from my home.

The first part was pulling all the Dead Things from the styrofoam and then laying them out on the open driveway to dry out. I was aided in this by Mom Nature in two ways: one, she didn’t rain the last three days and two, she provided a partly sunny day (which helped me survive what was to come).

I then took my auto-spray bug spray and shpritzed the Dead Things, as each time I pulled up a Dead Thing, styrofoam block or moved an edging stones, mass quantities of ants scrambled around. More on that later.

Turned out, with much finagling, I managed to get all the Dead Things into my remaining bins (using up a lot of goody bags helped free up extra bins) and make a reasonable stacking in the Storage Closet of Death.

The styrofoam blocks

While the whole process of blocks and stones beat shoveling mulch, it didn’t beat it by as much as you might imagine.

First, while it’s true the blocks didn’t retain all the water they were splashed with over the past month, they certainly did a tremendous job of trapping the water, leaving the bottoms of the blocks quite wet. This required more time on the driveway than anticipated, plus created a space problem (thanks to a dense tree on the south side, only the north side of the driveway received constant sun).

Wisely, I retained all the shipping boxes the blocks came in and when they got dry enough, I slapped them back in there and piled them on top of the bins.

The edging stones

The very last thing I did. I figured I wanted the stones as close to the front of the storage room as possible. They’re heavy individually. They’re really heavy en masse.

With gloves on both hands, I carried them two at a time from the driveway to the Storage Closet of Death. Bend, lift, carry, bend, place. Repeat 19 times. This after all the other bending and lifting on everything else.

My not-as-strong-as-they-used-to-be wrists were feeling the strain about halfway in, but I managed to complete the task without much more than a few staggers and some heavy breathing.

Once done, I shpritzed the Storage Closet of Death a final time, just to be on the safe side.

The conditioning

Perhaps those of you who do lavish Christmas decorating can attest to this, but I really should have prepared myself physically for Halloween.

I can give myself some partial allowance for the hurricane and the damage around the area making walking unsafe, but I have to take responsibility for being lazy in the months prior to October.

Given that, I was achy and woefully out of shape for the setup and, more noticeably, the take down.

The ants

I may have written three books that required much research about ants, but clearly there is far more that I do not know than I know about these industrious little critters.

To wit, the ants in question (the little black guys) seemed most invested in my display. Each styrofoam block and edging stone moved revealed a trove of ants scurrying around. I’m not sure what the allure was, since the grass and soil of my yard was readily available on both sides of the display, but it gives me something to look into on a future rainy day.

I’m sad to say that I broke my own rule and slew a bunch of them with liquid death from above. Normally, anything outside my home I respect its right to live, but these Halloween items were heading into my Storage Closet of Death and, after the army any invasion I found in there just a few weeks ago, I felt it prudent to do some preemptive curtailing.

Inevitably, every year while I’m taking apart and packing up my display, I wonder why I do this. My groans seem to be multiplying with my Dead Things.

Of course, by next Halloween, I’ll be raring to go as always and it doesn’t hurt to receive the warm and fuzzies from neighbors as they pass me by.

But that day after Halloween…

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