A GROWING CONCERN: Dark nights offer lighting displays time to shine

WE NOW MOVE inevitably toward the holidays, punctuated and known by family gatherings, mirth and merriment.

What a great holiday we just all had — being thankful for our many blessings, which of of course included living here in paradise on the Olympic Peninsula.

Last week, we talked about pruning our evergreens and using these trimmings in a handful of useful and decorative ways ideal for this time of year in holiday season.

Today, I want to talk about trimming your house, yard and landscape with creative, artistic expressions of light and landscape.

Daylight savings time has ended, which living here on the very Northern latitudinal Olympic Peninsula means we are now back on standard time.

It is dark when you awake and dark by the time you arrive home after work, school or an early evening event.

We on the Peninsula do darkness well — extremely well.

That blackness is like an unused canvas, waiting blank for your artistic strokes.

The scientific community contends that the long, dark, dreary nights of winter affect many people’s outlook and mood. But festive lighting improves one’s attitude — so why not bring on the lights?

Lights are associated with many festive venues and bring everyone joy whether they are 2 or 92!

And that is the point: Create, envision, make blue rivers or waterfalls, wrap tree trunks and branches one color then the canopy another color, hang icicles and encase your porch or stairway in dimensional color.

I tell you this today because lights, cords, displays and garland are all available now, but that abundant availability will change very, very soon.

Here is how you do it: First, only use good, heavy duty cords, not frayed, taped old extension cords.

Smaller is definitely better. Use the shortest cords possible because electricity will be drained by resistance over length. The smaller the number, the better.

Extension cords come in a wire gauge, and the smaller the number, the better the cord and the less fire potential and energy use. Gauges of 8, 10, 12 are great. Use at least a 16 gauge for multi-light strand displays.

Buy or use cords with pigtails or at least 3-way outlets at the ends so you can plug in enough light strands to deck the halls and the walls properly. You can buy three-outlet plug-ins and convert your existing cords, too.

Tape down the cords and three-way plug-ins or any junction of extension cords. This is a major source of popped breakers.

Remember, that today’s LED lights are numerous times more energy efficient, but with whatever type lights you use, be cognizant of how many lights you plug into a circuit or end-to-end on each other.

Separate the power for best results. Plug-in as many different circuits as possible and remember you can buy inexpensive adapters that replace outside lights with a plug-in outlet.

I view almost all outside lights as sources of light pollution, dampening down the bright brilliance of displays, so why not pull out the bulb and put in a plug socket for even more lights?

Finally, get all the lights ready first indoors in the warm, dry comfort of your home. Get them out of the boxes, detangle them, cut off those horrendous labels and check to see if they work. Finally, load them into convenient containers for transport.

Then, when the weather is good — no rain, cold wind or frost — hang them with prepared, unpacked and loaded ease and enjoy the art of the display.

Boy, what a difference! So please, join me and countless others decking the blackness with light displayed in artistic purpose with joy, thrilling all of us here in paradise — the Olympic Peninsula.

And stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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