On Pumpkins…

A few days ago the kids and I set out for a walk, dragging our trusty green wagon behind us. That wagon has seen better days… in fact, it saw better days long before it ever joined our family! But it has served us well and gone almost everywhere. To the library when the kids were too little to walk all the way but too big to ride in the stroller. To school, to carry either kids or backpacks or both. To the park, loaded to the gills with water bottles and tennis rackets and picnic lunches and books and balls and sand toys and even a cousin or two perched on top. And to the pumpkin place.

Ahh, yes, the pumpkin place. It isn’t anything fancy, just a parking lot filled with long tables covered in rows and rows of pumpkins arranged by size and price, but every year the pumpkins appear without fail and the kids can hardly wait until we make the annual pilgrimage and buy our own.

This year, like every year, they set up a trailer with hay bales and scarecrows and all sorts of spooky decorations, and of course had tables and tables full of pumpkins, even as late in the month as we were. The kids each got to pick out a pumpkin from the hundreds on display.

It’s serious business, picking a pumpkin. You have to get one that is just absolutely right. Not too big, for big pumpkins are hard to carry and difficult to carve. Not too small either — though given how cute the littlest pumpkins are, is there really such a thing as too small? I don’t think so.

For some reason, I’m not even sure how it happened, the kids always hand over the money for their pumpkins themselves. We usually give them each about five dollars in change, and as they pick out pumpkins, they hand over their money bit by bit until they have used up all their money and have more pumpkins than you can shake a stick at.

This year, however, they only picked two. As in, one for each of them. K picked the biggest pumpkin he could afford, and B went one size down, as she felt the bigger ones were too big for proper carving. Money was carefully counted out and into the wagon went the pumpkins, ready for the journey home.

The pumpkins sat side by side on our porch for a few days, enjoying the crisp fall weather that oddly enough went all the way up to 20 degrees C several days this week, until that magic day: the day before Halloween. The morning was sucked up by lessons and library, but the afternoon… the afternoon was set aside for carving pumpkins.

The kids had a blast, first drawing out what they wanted their pumpkin to look like, then scooping out the pumpkin guts and transfering their design to the pumpkin with a marker before finally carving into it with mineature saws.

It was very serious business. Can you tell by K’s face how serious it was?

Or rather, it would have been very serious business if the neighbour’s daughter hadn’t come along part way through and joined in the fun. She brought with her a little pumpkin of her own, a large number of jokes, and a huge helping of all around silliness that had us all in stitches the whole time.

We laughed and carved, carved and laughed, and in the end we had three adorable little pumpkins, each unique and such an expression of their personalities. I’m so glad we didn’t print off templates from the web for these pumpkins for I would have missed out on seeing a slice of them embodied in a pumpkin.

Of course, if you are going to go through all the trouble of scooping out pumpkin guts, you might as well wash off those seeds and throw them in the oven for a little roasty-goodness.

And once the pumkins are finished, you have to — have to — test them out. Just to make sure they work. Because you never know when a pumpkin just might not work.

Phew! They worked!

Afterwards, B started squealing with excitement… and I do mean loud squeals of excitement. The kind that make you laugh and wince all at the same time. Why was she squealing? Well… not because of the pumpkins. Not because there is less than 24 hours left before she gets to wear her costume for real. And not because in that same less than 24 hours she gets to collect an enormous hoard of candy (and in this neighbourhood, we’re talking a dragon-sized hoard of candy).

What had B squealing was this:

Snow.

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