Believe it or not, in my 30 years on this planet, I have never EVER carved a pumpkin. This was a massive shock to my father, who is as big a Halloween nut as anyone I’ve ever met. As a kid, my mom wasn’t much into the holiday, and I don’t think she was ever keen to spend cold hard cash on something like a gourd that would just be left to rot on the front porch.
And, of course, in the UK, where I lived for nearly all of my adult life, Halloween is not celebrated like it is in the US. It is basically just an excuse for pubs to have costume parties and for girls to dress as scantily as they can manage without getting arrested for indecent exposure.
So I was beyond thrilled when my dad had a lovely large pumpkin ready and waiting for us when we got here. And yesterday afternoon, I got the chance to carve it all by myself!! (Mostly…)
On a bed of newspapers, sat on a table in the backyard, I gazed into the orange orb and tried to decide what kind of face would be best to carve. Thanks to Pinterest and other social networking sites, I have been spoiled by amazingly complicated carvings which made me want to shoot for the moon! I envisioned everything from intricate monster faces to a whole cityscape set into the side of my pumpkin. I thought about covering the whole thing in a spidery web or recreating a fabulously famous artwork to win kudos from the pumpkin carving community. ..
But in the end, I knew my limitations and went with a very simple and classic Jack o’Lantern face. Dad suggested I use a marker to draw it on there first and then carve it out. So that’s what I did.
I first cut off the top of the pumpkin and removed all the innards.
In the cold autumn air, those insides were COLD. My hands felt nearly frozen by the time I’d spent 20 minutes digging around and pulling out seeds and stringy bits. When I realised that these were a fire hazard once dry, I got a little paranoid and started using my nails to really go for it. In the end, though, my dad brought me a handy scraper tool to be able to get as much out as possible and create a solid flat base for the candle at the bottom.
Unfortunately I have no photos of the carving process, as it was at this point that my dad took my phone away to keep it clean, and Mark, Dex and my mom got bored and went off for a walk down by the river, leaving me with no real documentation of my accomplishment.
Of course, this means there is also no proof that my dad, after watching me carve out two eyes, a nose, and half a mouth found my lack of skill astoundingly frustrating and took the knife from my hands to finish the job himself.
Ah well. He did make it look rather a lot easier than I did!
In the end, we were left with a solidly Jack o’Lantern-looking pumpkin.
It wasn’t quite the masterpiece I’d hoped for, but then again it WAS my first try. And there is still plenty of time before Halloween to have another go.
After we’d gone out for the evening to see my brother and his family, we returned home to find my dad had set the pumpkin out on the front porch for us. I excitedly grabbed Dexter and took him to see it up close. I don’t think he knew QUITE what to make of it, but I think he was only MILDLY afraid of it!
All in all, it was a great sense of accomplishment, and the start of a brand new family tradition, I think! Can’t wait to try it again with a little more time and patience and maybe a how-to guide by my side!