I have six pumpkins sitting on my front porch waiting to be disemboweled and have funny, scary, and downright bizarre faces carved into their currently blank faces. That’s not really at the top of my priority list, to be honest. I look out at my yard with 10. 6 cubic tons of pine needles covering it and the last thing I can think of is going all Michael Myers on a gourd. What is that? Is that the curmudgeonly 40 year old I will soon be? If so, this is for him, “Hey grandpa, go back to where you came from. We don’t need Cecil B. Buzzkill around these parts!”…
Do you think he heard me?
Yeah, me either. I can still feel him in the throbbing of my right arm. That’s the arm I used to wield my leaf blower for two and a half hours yesterday to clean up that massive haul of pine needles in my yard(I’m aware it’s a “leaf blower” and not a “pine needle blower”…they were all out of the “pine needle blowers” at the store with things that blow things.) I can remember just a few years ago I’d go out into the yard in mid-October and attack those pine needles with nothing more than a rake and the powers of Zeus. I’d hit that yard and within a couple hours we were good to go. I think I’m just as strong as I was back then -maybe even stronger- but I just don’t have the drive to go all Atlas on the yard anymore. A cleaned up yard just isn’t that important to me. I do it, though. Because then that anal-retentive son of a b***h pops up in the pumpkin patch making me feel all guilty for not keeping up on those fatherly responsibilities. So I trudge out and do what I’m supposed to do.
And the pumpkins would stare blankly out into the yard,”We want our faces! Give us our faces!”
“Yes, yes, soon my friends. Just another pile or two. Then we shall get to you.”
“Put down the leaf blower! Give us our faces! Rid us of our innards!”
“What?! I can’t hear you! This leaf/pine needle blower is really LOUD!!”
“Carve us our faces! Put a candle in our belly!”
“Just one more cubic ton and I’ll be done!”
And the next thing you know I’m eating turkey and stuffing and complaining my pants shrunk. Those gourds sit on the porch, waiting to be made into pies, bread, and late-night salty snacks. Where did October go? Did kids come to the house looking for candy and tricks? And what did they think of our pumpkins on the……oh. We never carved them. Poor, poor gourds. They never had a chance. All because of those damn pine needles…
What ever happened to priorities? Whatever happened to just saying the hell with it and just snapping that rake over my knee and turning the pine needle blower into a jet pack? What about making forts from those pesky pine needles and some branches? Yeah! Those were the days, weren’t they guys and gals? Pine needle forts, caramel apples stuck to your cheeks as you waited for It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to play on CBS. Nothing better than that. No way. Nothing. No pumpkin was left uncarved. And they’d stick around long enough to begin that curling and mushing process where the pumpkins resembled a 90 year old man with his dentures out of his wrinkling and pursed mouth. You always had to have your mom take a picture of them like that(well, at least I did.) The cold November mornings were never kind to that shriveling gourd sitting, rotting on the front stoop. And although Halloween memories faded, there were still reminders. A brown grocery bag in my bedroom with the remnants of strangers candy and a future date with a dentist’s squealing drill. A Darth Vader mask lying on the bottom of my closet waiting to be crushed by the great Christmas haul. The weird, tingling feeling I got when I thought of Snoopy battling the Red Baron. And even as mom bought the Thanksgiving turkey and family gathered at the end of November to give thanks for another year without a relative passing and that dad still had a good job, grandma’s pumpkin pie took my mind back to the blackened smile of that jack-o-lantern that sat on my stoop and withered in the November air. And I’d wonder where that pumpkin went when one morning it was gone. It had just left it’s perch. Did it crawl back into the ground to come back next year? Did teenagers take it for some prank? Did The Great Pumpkin come for it to take it home? I’d never figure it out.
For sure, those pumpkins get carved this week. Definitely…as soon as I rake the back yard.