The biggest time sucker is, of course, the Haunted House. In order to make it deliciously creepy, we needed English Ivy and dried leaves aplenty. But fall happens very quickly. By fall, I mean the actual "fall"—that day, once a year, when all the leaves decide to relinquish their grasp on the trees. It seems as though one day there are only one or two leaves on the ground, and the next day there are only one or two leaves on the trees.
So, in this planet-aligning fall leaf timing scenario, here's what happened: I realized, all of a sudden, that today was Fall; all the leaves had hit the ground. They were also, miraculously, still dry. If you are familiar with the Pacific Northwest in fall (spring, summer, winter), you know that a dry day when you need a dry day is far from a guarantee (outdoor weddings with umbrellas can be charming). In fact, on this particular fall day, it was sunny. So there were all the leaves, just sitting there, still dry and crunchy and crinkly, and perfect for the haunted house still 3 weeks away.
I also realized there were some of our high school volunteers nearby, on "homework time." I knew that not all of them would be taking advantage of that time for its intended purpose, but these high school students are far from lazy. Inspiring Our Next Generation, these Irrationally Benevolent individuals are an Outstanding Volunteer Group. These folks are up for doing anything that benefits the program they love. We enjoy being brutally honest with them when requesting help for something unpleasant: "Who wants to help me carry something heavy and awkward uphill through some mud?" There are always more volunteers up for the task than the task requires.
Put all this together: Dry Fall Leaves. Sunny Day. Half Hour Free. Several Enthusiastic Helpers.
In 20 minutes, we had 10 huge garbage bags full of leaves for haunted house ambiance, stored under a building until they would be needed in three weeks.
I tried editing this photograph, because it has such interesting colors, but I wasn't able to do anything to it that I liked better than the original, straight out of the camera. Love that Acer.