Practice Makes Perfect

Pumpkin fest is the best time of year. I look forward to fall and Halloween, even if it means the glory days of summer are drawing to a close. The pumpkin patches are appearing on every empty lot, loaded with ball-like gourds that remind me of basketballs. Kids are thinking about their costumes and if they will make or buy them. It’s always a big decision each year. I love the spontaneous creativity associated with the spirited holiday, not to mention all the yummy treats. I am a sucker for candy, cupcakes, and caramel apples. With the cool weather comes apple cider, spooky decorations, and a plethora of classic and new horror movies.

Of great interest to me is all the pumpkin carving that goes on. We all try to outdo ourselves with new ideas. None of the usual designs will do. You must hone your skills and learn how to make something so eye-catching that it stops people in their tracks. This means a lot of practice. It is not enough to draw a scary face. I like to try it out by painting an old basketball. I get them from the gym. They are about to toss them when I show up to get my dibs. These balls are just about the right size and the orange color helps to make the practice session more real. I use an outdoor basketball since they are sturdy and have the right texture. Sometimes, the results are so good that I keep them for decoration. They make people laugh. You can place them side by side or pile them up in pyramid fashion. Surround them with a bit of loose hay and you have a funny Halloween scene. For atmospheric effects, you can put candles in front. This will add to the eeriness of the grouping. The flickering light is magical. Of course, I prefer the candle inside a hollowed-out pumpkin, but this is simply something different that the kids can even do. Who doesn’t adore a well-conceived jack-o-lantern.

Contests abound at the end of October and adults and children alike join hands to enter their creations. The finalists’ work will be on view for the public until the day after Halloween. Kids like to see them after they finish trick or treating. The rules are simple. You must use a real pumpkin and carve it yourself after hollowing it out. Candles are not required, but most entrants like to include them. Winners get pumpkin pies and pumpkin seed butter in jars. It is all about the ubiquitous fruit (or is it a vegetable?). Whatever it is, it is surely the symbol of fall including Thanksgiving. We can’t have Halloween night antics without one glaring at visitors from the front porch. By the way, I have been known to win a contest or two in my time. I credit my hours of practice with the basketballs. I can’t imagine anyone else doing it.