'Yard art' is not for the faint of heart

'Cornstalks for sale." Every time I drive by the hand-lettered sign south of town, I think, "Yessirree, as soon as I get the yard organized - actually the husband organized to get the yard organized - I'll buy a cornstalk or two to park in the front yard."

It's not the two bucks I lack. It's the confidence. A homeowner needs a heap of confidence to stick a crinkly cornstalk in his yard. Same goes for hay bales, primitive farm implements, rusty wagon wheels, dried pod, weed, and seed arrangements, and other autumn yard accessories.

Seasonal yard decorating isn't for slipshod yard keepers. If last season's withered tomato vines are still slumped and sagging, you have no business dragging in cornstalks. It sends mixed messages to the neighbors and passing motorists. Is it cutting-edge yard art or on-the-edge city code violation?

I tried to do some seasonal yard decor once with a valuable primitive. I paid $15 for the push plow with splintered and weathered handles. I leaned it against an oak and anchored it with a handsome rock.

One of the kids came flying into the house the next morning.

"Mom, someone vandalized our yard!" he exclaimed. I figured we'd been TP'd again by some of the teenagers' friends.

"Where?" I asked, scanning the tree limbs for Charmin ribbons.

My son pointed to the plow, artfully rusting against the tree.

"That's not vandalism. That's yard art. I decorated the front yard for fall," I explained. That reaction should have tipped me off that my homemade scarecrow didn't stand a chance.

"You won't believe what the neighbor's worthless dog dragged into the yard," the husband said when he spied my straw man in a two-piece burlap suit. He dangled my objet d'art by its scrawny neck over the dumpster.

Until we get the yard in Better Homes & Gardens shape, I'm going to ignore the "cornstalks for sale." When you already have bicycle parts, shovels, knotted garden hoses, and car spillout weathering in the yard, it makes a loud enough decorating statement. Any louder and we'd be forced to move.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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