Not to toot my own horn, but I am regarded as the master pumpkin carver among my friends and family. I’m also the only one who really loves to carve pumpkins, so that might be a factor, I don’t know. 😉 Anyway this is my favorite time of year, for no other reason than PUMPKINS. There is nothing I don’t love about pumpkins.
The vine itself is a phenomenal thing. Enormous leaves, twirling tendrils that wrap around anything, supporting the thick spiky hollow stem, gorgeous star shaped yellow flowers peeking through. It’s wild and beautiful, and just seeing a pumpkin vine makes me happy. Then the pumpkin! Fat and orange: do I even have to say anything else? I can’t imagine a thing more quietly joyful than a pumpkin.
And like a lot of people, in October I take them inside and carve them. I love getting messy, and being elbow-deep in pumpkin guts is heavenly to me. I roast the seeds and drink wine while I carve, and on Halloween night I light up my creations (usually among the “gravestones” on my front lawn).
To me, it is the perfect fall activity. This time of year, when cold weather moves in, and the night is long, that silly carved gourd is solidly reassuring. At a time when so many things in the garden are dying, the fecund pumpkin holds the promise of rebirth. Its fiery color, its multitude of seeds, its sweet flesh, and even its generous size and shape, all symbolize life. Put a candle in it, and add a human face, and it is even more a beacon in the dark.
So I suggest, if you are not already a pumpkin carver, try it! I will share my secret, in the hopes that it will make you the pumpkin carving expert of your social circle as well. Here it is: LOOP TOOLS. These are ceramic tools, used by potters. A large “loop tool” makes easy work of cleaning out the guts. A smaller loop is perfect for carving. I use the ones that came with my basic “intro to ceramics” kit from college, similar to these:
I’ve had the same ones for over 15 years (though I got them from an art supply, not amazon), and they’ve carved many pumpkins (and thinned more than a few clay pots as well). But apparently I’m not alone in recognizing the usefulness of pottery tools for pumpkin carving. Amazon offers a kit here designed specifically with your jack-o-lantern in mind.
Wherever you get them, they will change your pumpkin carving life. I will leave you with the first pumpkin of this year (though it won’t be the last!) which I did for last week’s “doodle tuesday”:
Happy fall, and happy carving!