It’s funny what a sharp carving knife and a seedy goal can do for your state of mind.
I could barely contain my enthusiasm as I thrust the blade into the head of my pumpkin, working hard to cut out its crown so I could gain access to the guts within — and their wealth of pumpkin seeds.
Yes, I was having fun.
My wife, although a bit more restrained in her exuberance, shared my pleasure in the pumpkin piercing, all of which happened on a cold, wet, and gloomy Sunday afternoon in Maine just a few days removed from Halloween.
In truth, though, the day had not started out so cheery.
Quite the contrary, in fact.
When my wife suggested we leave the warmth of our home to embark on a search for squashes, I reacted irascibly — as Halloween hating as humanly possible.
Go picking in pumpkin patches? Had she lost her mind? On a day like this? Never mind the raw cold temperature. What lurked outside was nothing less than a malevolent monsoon, pelting people and pumpkins alike with its icy fury. Nobody with a semblance of sanity would venture beyond the front porch on such a frightening day.
My wife, though, is a different bird, a mother hen who instinctively knows what’s best for her family — including the dour Dad of the clan — and relentlessly persists in carrying out what she deems necessary to achieve her objective.
Naturally, then, she managed to drag me, downbeat demeanor be damned, and our two faithful hounds into her RAV4 and on the road to pick some pumpkins.
It did not start well.
People, it seems, the vast majority of people, pick their pumpkins pretty promptly, resulting in an inventory that proved to be sorely lacking by the time — Monsoon Sunday — we began our quest. I was ready to call it quits after yet another fruitless stop at a farm stand, but my wife is made of sterner stuff than I.
She turned onto a country road we seldom drive in a last gasp effort to secure our squash and, magically, it appeared: the pumpkin patch on the road less traveled. My wife quickly pulled over the RAV4, and, remarkably, as if orchestrated by some benevolent being above, the rains of Monsoon Sunday temporarily eased as I pulled the dogs from the vehicle and fumbled to put on their raincoats.
Shortly after beginning our trek down the leave-bedecked path to the pumpkin patch, the benevolent being above apparently exhausted its quota of kindness, leaving us to squish through some of the sorriest-looking squashes on God’s muddy earth. But by this point, perhaps as a side-effect of our saturated sojourn, I began to get into the Halloween spirit. I began to see the figurative light in the jack-o’-lantern, as well as the humor of splashing through puddles in search of our holiday gourds.
And, so, as we took the pick of the pathetic pumpkin patch litter, lugging them up the path, our soggy doggies in tow, I went from dour to delighted, a transformation of Scrooge-like proportions, which takes me back to my carving knife.
Rest assured, I used the blade with surgical precision, aiming not to inflect pain, but simply to create beauty, a jack-o’-lantern to bring joy to the world.