Forgo the patterns, but keep the pumpkin

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 10/18/19


That’s the sound of pumpkin guts flung onto an outspread newspaper.

I love that sound, but by association only.

As a singular activity, cleaning the gooey guts and sticky seeds out …

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Forgo the patterns, but keep the pumpkin

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That’s the sound of pumpkin guts flung onto an outspread newspaper.

I love that sound, but by association only.

As a singular activity, cleaning the gooey guts and sticky seeds out of a pumpkin’s innards doesn’t top my list of favorite things.

But I don’t mind getting my hands wet and dirty and I really love the next step: carving the pumpkin.

Of life’s pleasures, it’s true, I think, that the simple ones are often the best; and the simplicity of a plump orange gourd, a kitchen knife, a candle and a few strategic cuts in said gourd to create, with said candle, a spooky, glowing jack-o-lantern is enormously appealing.

When retailers haul out their Christmas wares in September, I cringe like everybody else. But come August, when the first round of Halloween hardware hits the shelves, I feel the excitement beginning to build.

How can you not love a holiday that’s celebrated by marathon horror movies on TV and the sale of massive amounts of fake blood?

I haven’t trick-or-treated since the Ford administration — or escorted a trick-or-treater (my daughter) since the early George W. Bush years — but I still get a kick out of donning a mask to hand out Halloween candy.

Still, you could take away a lot of Halloween stuff — the Jason and Freddy and Michael movies, the roving bands of pint-sized vampires and princesses, certainly the late summer sales of Halloween stuff — and I’d be OK as long as you don’t take away the pumpkins.

They’re the best thing about Halloween, the wildest of our holidays.

Leave it someone, though, to make something as simple and fun as carving a face onto a pumpkin a commercial endeavor.

A few years ago, a company called Pumpkin Masters arrived on the Halloween scene, marketing pumpkin carving kits complete with little saws and scoops and (this is the most offensive part) patterns to follow to for carving a pumpkin.

This is offensive to a pumpkin-carving purist like myself.

Who needs a “saw” for carving a pumpkin when the tried-and-true tool — a kitchen knife, kind of like Michael Myers might wield — is perfect for the job?

And the little Pumpkin Masters scoop? Isn’t that what hands are for?

But those patterns beat all.

I’m sure if you purchase a Pumpkin Masters kit (they, and their many knock-off varieties, returned to store shelves in early August), you can create a very nice-looking pumpkin with a perfectly perfect, homogenized, image that, if done according to stencil and utilizing the provided mini-saw just so, may look exactly like everyone else’s jack-o-lantern.

But where’s the fun — not to mention the artistry — in that?

I prefer the one-of-a-kind jack-o-lanterns that spring from the imagination.

Going back a few years, folks in the Harland’s Creek community near Pittsboro carved jack-o-lanterns every October and placed their creations along the guardrail of the bridge at Manco Dairy Road. It was always an impressive sight.

At night, you could pass by on U.S. Hwy. 64 and see off to the side the many gourds aglow. I usually made a point of driving past the bridge to view the 40-odd creations — some scary, some goofy, no two jack-o-lanterns alike and none, that I could ever tell, created with the help of a saw-by-numbers pattern.

That’s as it should be, I think.



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