Keeping up the tradition of pumpkin-carving

As the daylight grows shorter, the leaves of the trees have turned colour and have begun to fall.
The first to disappear were the Manitoba maple leaves, followed by the ash.
A golden blanket of birch leaves now hides my green grass. They seemed to suddenly chose to fall from the trees on the weekend.
Next will come the apple and then the large silver maple trees.
The leaves from the lilac will be last to cascade to the ground. It often happens after the snows have permanently stayed.
Signs of the end of the year are approaching everywhere.
This Sunday, for instance, will mark the return to Central Standard Time. I really don’t look forward to the change. It will mark going to work in darkness, as I did today, but also coming home in darkness at the end of the day.
I truly do not look forward to this day. I join with many others who look with sadness on it.
On the bright side, Hallowe’en revelers will get an extra hour of sleep this year.
Carving pumpkins always has been a big tradition in our family, and I still get excited every Hallowe’en to create some new pumpkin faces. The pumpkins are put out in the yard and it is fun to watch the smaller children check out the carvings.
Growing up, very few people decorated their homes for Hallowe’en. Nowadays, no block is complete without blow-up pumpkins, witches, or ghosts. Miniature light pumpkins hang in the trees and ghostly sounds speak out from behind hedges and trees.
At the local farmers’ market this past Saturday, I picked up two large carving pumpkins. Our family always had a pumpkin that my father carved the evening before Hallowe’en.
Each year the shape of the pumpkin dictated a different face. He would begin by carving the hat out and then we kids would scoop out the seeds that, on more than one occasion, were toasted in the oven.
The crispy toasted pumpkin seeds were devoured as soon as they cooled.
The pumpkin faces could be merry, ferocious, sad, or any combination of feelings. The tricky part was always getting a candle to stand up to light the face.
When I began carving pumpkins for my two sons, I did most of the work with a sharp knife and large spoon. But as I became more creative, I began using some wood carving tools to create hair and eyebrows by just removing the thick skin.
When I wanted to put “BOO” into the mouth of a pumpkin, I used a jig saw blade held firmly with a pair of vice grips and sawed the letters.
A few years ago, I bought a Dremel tool for carving. It can get a little bit messy but by using the tool to carve to different levels of the pumpkin, you can create more intrigue in the face.
I will spend Friday night carving and probably part of Saturday. Instead of the candle, I now light the pumpkin with a low-watt bulb.
And by late Saturday afternoon, they will be in the yard—lit and waiting for kids to arrive at our doorstep.

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