Pumpkins In PA, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Back in Minnesota and it’s Halloween. I’m home from the 2400 roundtrip air miles, Minneapolis to Pennsylvania. The road trip with Mom from Pennsylvania to Georgia clocked around 1200 driving miles. Fall is beautiful on the East Coast and we had a lot of fun stopping in Fancy Gap, Virginia on the way down and the Pink Cadillac Diner in Natural Bridge, Virginia on the way back to Pennsylvania.
One thing that sticks out for me on this trip is the difference in temperature and light from East to Midwest. When I was snapping sunset photos in Virginia for Twitter, Liz noticed that it was already dark in Minnesota. And this morning when I awoke, the temperatures in Harrisburg and Augusta were surprisingly similar, topping out in the 50’s. Yet in Minneapolis, it was only 32 degrees.
Cold and dark. It’s going to be a crisp evening for the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. My sister told me last week that in Pennsylvania, they trick-or-treat on the Thursday before Halloween, something I had not heard of here. As far as I know, there is only one Halloween evening in our neck of the woods. And that is tonight.
The night before I left Pennsylvania, my sister brought home pumpkins for my niece and nephew to carve. She grabbed a few extra for my mother and I and we went to town. I had not worked that hard on a pumpkin in years. I’m not fond of cleaning out the guts. But my sister and niece were masters at expunging the stringy goo from the hollowed out orange shell. I learned a thing or two about pumpkin carving that night:
place a big plastic table cloth down on the carving surface to catch all the guts and gore that fly through the air
use ice cream scoops and scrapers to remove extra pumpkin goo
draw your design out on in pencil on a white sheet of paper before carving
tape the paper to the outside of the pumpkin
use an ice pick to punch holes along the lines of the design (when you remove the paper drawing, you have a dotted line pattern of holes to follow)
when carving in groups, you’ll need plenty of sharp knives and serrated pumpkin carving tools
X-Acto knives work well for the more intricate designs
toothpicks can help repair a misaligned cut from a knife that slipped
you’ll need stamina in the wrists, for punching the design with the ice pick and to complete the carving
for those whose wrists can’t take it or who don’t want to carve, painting pumpkins works great
When we finished carving, we placed votive candles and tea lights inside each pumpkin and arranged them on the front porch for photographs. Mom’s is the painted one over by the scarecrow Paul won a few weeks ago (he’s always been lucky like that). The scarecrow lights up in multicolored LED’s, adding another dimension to the overall decor.
It occurred to me that this was the same porch where we celebrated Halloween in the 60’s and 70’s growing up. Ghosts of all the ghouls and goblin costumes Mom created for my five siblings and I in the house where we were raised danced in and out of the breezeway.
3’s Not A Crowd In Pumpkin World (Dark), 3’s Not A Crowd In Pumpkin World (Light), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Happy Halloween 2009. We’re preparing to watch a scary movie and chuckling at the inventive costumes (check out ybonesy’s daughter’s costume this year) of the little Midwest trick-or-treaters that drop by our door. In two days, it will be the full November Frost Moon (will bats be hibernating?). It’s blustery and chilly in Minnesota. Part of my heart is still in Pennsylvania.
-posted on red Ravine, Halloween Night, Saturday, October 31st, 2009