I put up twinkle lights this past weekend. I’ve never been big on the outdoor decorating thing. I’ll be honest and say I’ve always thought that it was a little on the foolish side having seen plenty of neighbors over the years standing out on a ladder in the snow trying to get their eaves strung with lights. A few years back a friend of a friend fell off the roof attempting it and broke his ankle and that seemed a pretty clear message. But this year I decided that a change of pace is a good thing. Plus, it’s mid- November and it’s still an amazing 50 degrees out so the danger seemed minimal.
I have a latticework trellis on my back deck which seemed to be calling out for a frame of lights. I also have an architectural piece in my front garden that is the perfect shape to be an outdoor ‘tree’ this Christmas season. So, out I went, lights in hand, stepladder at the ready.
I started with the trellis since it didn’t require the ladder. This should be easy right? Not so much. Even though it was a simple ‘frame’ job it wasn’t a straight shot. So there I stood, weaving a strand of lights in and out of latticework. I started in the middle and worked toward the ends and it actually went relatively quickly, though not as quickly as I had anticipated. Then I ran the big extension cord, hooked it up to an outdoor timer, and there it was – ready for the addition of a little outdoor lighted tree once we pass Thanksgiving. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all.
I’ll admit, I got a little cocky. I went around to the ‘tree’ in front, thinking I would whip this thing out in half an hour or so. It seemed straightforward in my head – 2 strands of lights, start at the top with the middle of the strands, then go down opposite sides winding the strands around the ‘legs’ of the tree. The reality wasn’t quite that simple. First, there was the ladder. Ladders and I have a love/hate relationship that goes back to my years in theatre and a rather intense experience painting at the top of a 22 foot A-frame (I was 20 and indestructible if you’re looking for the logic in it.) This time I was much closer to the ground (never more than 4 feet above it if you must know) but my sense of balance is not quite what it was when I was 20 so there were a few ‘moments’.
Then there was the winding. My ‘tree’ is actually somewhat ornate and has lots of swirls and multiple pieces of iron which made for lots of winding of a Big strand of lights through a very Small opening. It took forever and I have to admit to several broken bulbs that needed replacement when I was finished although I am happy to report that only a minimum of blood was shed from grabbing a broken bulb or two during the winding process. I'm certainly no 'artiste' but I have twinkle lights and I'm pretty happy with the outcome.
This experience has given me a new respect for people that do this every year (although I still think that being up on the ladder in the snow and ice is less than smart.) But doing something new and different, even something as simple as lights on your deck, gives you a new perspective. Your brain has to operate differently, look at the physical world differently, and your hands have to respond in a new way. It reminds you that your default ways of thinking and doing aren’t always necessarily the best or most effective. It causes you to look at a challenge or a problem or a situation in a new way, or to consider the idea that the way someone else might approach something might be better than the way you always have.
And in the end, you get to see things in a whole new light.
20 hours ago