Sunday, November 28, 2010

october 30 and 31, 2010 – Halloween weekend

The Saturday before Halloween was dry, and warm enough that you could get away with wearing a sweatshirt and no hat, if you still wanted to deny the end of summer. The fronds of the fern bed had died away to reveal the logs that we had seeded with shiitake spores in the spring and then forgotten.

We were able to eke a few more pounds of produce out of the garden. The last crop of radishes popped up from the raised bed, ready to be picked; our stalwart collards and kale continued to yield; and we managed almost 10 pounds of tomatoes—though some were on the edge of being too mealy to eat. We could just see the tops of our sweet potatoes pushing up through the ground: we decided to wait another week or so before harvesting them.

While I delivered the harvest to the pantry, the other volunteers prepared the garden for Halloween. For the last few years, we have participated in the Halloween festivities of the Buena Park neighborhood where the garden is located. We usually decorate the front garden with a scarecrow or two and hand out treats to passing children.

This year, we fashioned our scarecrow out of a suit of old clothing stuffed with leaves and draped over one of our garden signs. We used the seed head of one of our giant sunflowers for the scarecrow’s head and its stalk for arms. The seedy face of our scarecrow reminded me of a Green Man or John Barleycorn.

To accompany our scarecrow, we hung from the trees ghosts made from ragged sheets of row cover bound with gardening twine around piles of autumn leaves. The garden started to look disconcerting, if not actually spooky.

The following day, we set up our table in the front garden, stocking it with candy and hot cider. Many of the volunteers arrived in costume. Dave (disguised as The World’s Largest Garden Gnome) roasted chestnuts on the garden Weber. The DePaul Oxfam team handed out candy to a parade of costumed trick-or-treaters and dispensed hot cider to parents who took a breather from chasing after garbed children and asking, “Now what do you say?”

It was one of those evenings that reminded us of the value of being a community garden.