Monday, October 17, 2011


In honor of Monday, I will introduce another fall theme that's sure to be recurring: Josh and I love pumpkins.

It's not about eating them.  I don't get into the pumpkin spice latte craze that sweeps the nation every autumn, and I really don't even like pumpkin pie.  (I know, I know.)  I've only recently become a fanatic about my pumpkin and black bean soup.  But we love carving pumpkins - at least once per season, usually more.  This tradition emerged in 2004, when Josh and I stumbled across a clearance-priced carving toolkit, complete with a booklet of stencil designs, in a now-defunct Mall of America bookstore.  

The purists among my readers will frown at the mention of stencils, which generated controversy (and an eventual ban) at last year's pumpkin carving party with a larger group of friends.  I do go free-form sometimes, but the use of stencils hinges on one time-honored tradition: Boofus!

Boofus is my favorite design from that booklet, and one year Josh made enough photocopies of that stencil to last the rest of my life. Every year, Josh carves Draculantern, a legitimately scary design.  Both of them - Boofus especially - have become part of our cast of characters at home. They often take the fall for mischief and pranks.  (Boofus' facial expression often just looks sheepish.) I wanted to include a photo of the first Boofus, circa 2004, but I found it in my photo album and remembered that there's no point because, well, he looks the same every year.

In journalism, there is a phrase called "burying the lede," where a writer hides the pertinent part of a news story several paragraphs down.  Does this transition seem abrupt?

Perhaps this weekend found Josh and I driving 50 minutes on the interstate to a pumpkin farm hailed on the internet as an absolute barrel of fun: a fantastic corn maze, a petting zoo, pick-your-own pumpkin patches and fall treats.  One of us may have not vetted this internet recommendation as closely as she should have and became nervous en route to the pumpkin patch that it was much too far to drive for such a question mark.  Upon arrival, the two of us may have found a small pumpkin market with a frayed, thin corn maze, about five other shoppers and a lone kitten trailing us.  It's possible that we bought three pre-picked pumpkins and were back in the car for the long trip home within five minutes.

This pumpkin farm will go unidentified because, save for a smidge of false advertising, it is definitely not the farm's fault that we chose to drive to it, particularly with high expectations.  Josh is free and clear of blame, too.  It's totally my fault!  It seemed like a good idea at the time!  The saving grace of the mini-fiasco is that at least we actually did come home with three beautiful, enormous pumpkins.

That little one is from my CSA box.  I just wanted to include it.
With chicken chili on the stove and the slugfest known as NLCS Game 6 on TV in the background, let the carving begin!

First, cleaning the pumpkin - always equal parts yucky and fun:

Next is stencil preparation - and your first glimpse at Boofus.  How could anyone not love a face like that?

His face starts to emerge:

And voila!  Our first pumpkins of 2011 are complete.  In case you needed clarification, Boofus is on the left and Draculantern is on the right.  Draculantern is creepy, but I only have eyes for Boofus and his weird, wobbly smile.

Scary stuff, no?  Stay tuned for more pumpkin-carving this month - we'll just be getting our pumpkins a little closer to home next time!

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