Vol. 3, Issue 22, November 1, 2005
The Aeronautical Cure
DeadBrain UK

Journey to a Perfect Jack o'Lantern

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

All Hallow's Eve was once a quiet affair in which a cool Wind from our ancestor's pagan past blew gently across their nominally Christian thresholds. But whereas they simply carved small Squash into fearsome visages and said their prayers rather Louder than usual that night, the night has become rather a quintessentially American one. I cannot think of another Holiday in which we see Evil simultaneously mocked and revered, with uniquely American bravado of course. (Except of course for Election Day.)

Each year I eagerly stock up on Sweet-meats and Chortle at the children making their rounds. But there is another and equally Vital task to undertake: the carving of the Jack o'Lantern. In days of yore we used Turnips, of course, but even in my long-past youth the healthy orange expanses of Pumpkins offered far richer artistic Vistas upon which to render our grinning Creations.

Carving the Pumpkin is utterly Crucial to setting the tone for your Hallowe'en festivities. I knew a fellow once who gave his Pumpkins the shortest shrift Possible, poking rude eyes with an awl and sketching a most minimal and Lugubrious mouth. Needless to say his Apple-carts were nearly always upset the next day, and his holiday was spent not in joyful Tricks and Treats, but in coping with scowls and minor bodily Ills visited upon the unjust. Not I: proper and due Diligence is given to this round orange Sentinel at my office.

My pumpkin this year is a most Healthy specimen, his embonpoint a testament to the rich summer days of California sunshine and the good Soil of a worthy farm. The orange Heft of my round canvas gleams Before me, my carving knives at the Ready. The first step, of course, is Contemplation. Every squash is Unique: what expression does this curcurbita possess within its wrinkly Depths? A glass of Old Pulteney aids my musing, what I call my "Pumpkin Time." (My nephew has other Names for this contemplation, but he is Boorish and his comments do not bear Repetition in polite Company.) Speak to me, enigmatic Squash!

After a morning's contemplation, I set to the Task: first, a daring Eye, half-closed in mirthful Jest. The brow Above must surely be suitably Firm to provide foundation for the serious Character behind the twinkle. Whew! That is work indeed. Another glass of the Old Pulteney, and on to the Next eye: a rather sterner Glint I feel is called for. Carefully now: that glint is turning rather Flinty - too much so - oh heavens, far too Flinty! Two more glasses are called for before I manage a Solution, and with a practiced twist of the Knife turn the glint into a Gleam. What a close call. Almost too close.

From there, the rest is Easy. A Gallic slope for the nose, the merest hint of insouciance for the Mouth. Well, more than a hint: rather a blatant Splash. But to be fair the first bottle of Old Pulteney is now consigned to the History-books, and the second is not far Behind. An old man may perhaps be Forgiven a tad of Imprecision in his artistry.

And then, it is Finished. Strangely, the various features, each quite clear Alone, come together in a Confluence that is very different, and promise a most Effective decoration for the Threshold. What a marvel indeed!

The sentinel in place, I sit Exhausted, sipping some Balvenie to refresh my spirits before the youngsters arrive in their costumed Finery. This is a remarkable holiday, but it is fortunate that it comes but once a Year. I can kindle the light of but one such Visage a year. Compared to Pumpkin-carving, running a newspaper is a piece of Cake.

Bookmark and Share