Remember the days of watching Charlie Brown? It’s a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was always my favorite. I think it was Linus that always tugged on my heart-strings. Identified with. There he was, in the moonlit pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin. It seemed so peaceful and serene. Never scary.
Here I am in China with Halloween around the corner. Many expats are hunting and scavenging for costumes and decorations. Costumes for their children or maybe their own Halloween party. The one thing that seems to be the most difficult to be had and I primarily associate Halloween with is … A pumpkin. A big round orange pumpkin. One that has a long sage green stem. One that can easily be carved (and smashed) and set out on your steps for weeks. One that I could not find here in Qingdao.
My friend had asked me if I knew how to carve a pumpkin. She has two small boys. And her eldest had a pumpkin carving contest at school. Like every Mom she wanted her son to win. My friend is from a country where they don’t celebrate Halloween. She has never had her hands dirtied by pumpkin goo. So she thought I could give her a few pointers and let her borrow my carving tool. A few pointers and a carving knife is all I thought I was responsible for.
I arrive at her door in a dress intending to be the director not the producer or prop artist. We definitely were on different pages I had no idea the two pumpkins she had intended me to carve were going to be the size and thickness of a small bowling balls! When I walked through the door I had a small audience expecting Michelangelo. The Halloween patterns were very intricate for a bat and a skull. She had downloaded from the internet were intended for a detail master sculpture with quality tools. Disappointed we all were to find out I was just me.
After many cheers of Jia You! Jia You! Let’s Go! Let’s Go! The sporting event ended with disappointed faces. Needless to say my carvings did not even come close to looking like that of the downloaded internet pattern of a bat or scary skull. I felt like Charlie Brown with five holes cut in my sheet and “I Got A Rock”!
I tried to reassure everyone we could find another pumpkin. Even two if they wanted. We would have another contest. I promised that there were bigger and better pumpkins out there. Even if they were stemless, hard as a rock, and wobbled like Weebles. I convinced my friend to put a candle in the malformed mutant pumpkin and the children could see the potential of it being a “scary” winner. Not.. Mom.
In my defense I haven’t carved a pumpkin in 5 or 6 years. I can’t remember ever following a pattern or tracing anything (exaggeration)! In the past a freestyle form was the best part of carving and I never had an intimidating audience. I had to make it up to this desperate family. I searched for days for bigger and better pumpkins but every market and lead came up short (small in this case). Oh Great Pumpkin Where Are You!
Finally, Monday I asked the Korean grocer in my complex if he knew where I could find a larger version of the pumpkins we already found. Voila! He asked how many? And with next day delivery I had my “save the face” pumpkins. I was off the hook. I proudly gave my friend the best of the two I ordered. She was happy and confident to carve her own and I was happy to let her.
Charlie Brown always seemed to beat all odds. His stories always had a moral or lesson to learn. If there was one thing I learned from my pumpkin seeking/carving adventure is to bring back pumpkin seeds and grow my own.
Reminiscing of Tricks and Treats of Days Gone By