Jack ‘o’ lantern, ’14


Oct 28, ‘14

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In a Fall filled with warm and sunny bonus days today is the biggest bonus of all.  The temp is 66 degrees, the sun is shining and there’s very little wind.  Not at all bad for Oct 28….  So far, no frost, but that will change soon, probably within the next 4 or 5 days.

I’d planned on carving my traditional jack ‘o’ lantern tonight but since the sunshine was so inviting I sat out on the back porch and carved it while sitting in the sun.

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First cut: Lid and smoke hole

When I was a kid my mother had a big garden and along with all the veggies she planted there were pumpkins.  Most times, we had more pumpkins than any one family needs and we kids sold them from a little pumpkin stand we made alongside the road.  We always had plenty of pumpkins to make jack ‘o’ lanterns for Halloween.

I bought this pumpkin for $6.99 at a local supermarket.  Since I was so late buying last year’s jack ‘o’ lantern pumpkin I bought this one 3 weeks ago and have had it under a tarp on my front porch to keep it as fresh as possible.  It wasn’t quite ripe when I bought it.  It is still fresh and was somewhat hard to cut, so I think it’ll last quite a few days.

Whenever I’m carving a jack ‘o’ lantern my mind goes deep into my memory bank of the many jack ‘o’ lanterns I’ve carved and this year it was no different.  I think that my mother and my grandmother were my 2 earliest jack ‘o’ lantern carving mentors; they come up sharp and clear in my memory.

With the Sharpie pen I drew a line for the lid.  After I decided where the face was to go, I carved out the smoke hole directly opposite.

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Lid and smoke hole

At the supermarket recently I saw a set of specially made tools for carving pumpkins.  I debated with myself whether or not I really needed to bring these tools home, use them once and then find a place to store them until next year.  I constantly hear a lament in my mind “You’ve got too much stuff!” and decided to carve my pumpkin with the usual tools in the usual time-honored way – with a kitchen knife cutting triangular eyes, nose and straight cut snaggle-tooth smile.

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Pumpkin with drawn on face

The part of the process of pumpkin carving is scooping out the innards is my least favorite part.  This pumpkin was very fresh, just barely ripe, so the innards were well attached.  I usually scrape them out with a metal spoon but had the idea to use scissors to cut the strings and found that worked great.

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Another step in the pumpkin carving process is to make sure to have newspaper handy to hold the scooped out innards and carry them to the compost pit.

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It’s rarely been warm enough to carve outside so I skipped the newspaper and threw the innards directly into a compost bucket.

Onto the face carving!  When I drew the eyes, nose and mouth I drew them a bit smaller than I wanted them and cut outside the lines so that I ended up throwing out  parts of pumpkins where the lines had been.

After the innards were scooped and the face carved, I scooped out a small depression in the inside bottom of the pumpkin —  for the candle.  After I inserted the candle I wrapped tin foil around it to prop it up.

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And even though it’s still daylight, I lit the candle.  The smell is wonderful and the memories are sweet.

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2 Responses to Jack ‘o’ lantern, ’14

  1. beetleypete says:

    A great story of an American pumpkin carving Gretchen. Though some of our neighbours still do this, I am afraid to tell you that we do not. It is very much an American tradition, and I think it should remain so.
    Best wishes for a very happy Halloween. Pete.

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