Many years ago my sister-in-law told me I had to learn how to be creative so that I could help my daughter with her school projects. I thought, “Oh-oh, we’re in trouble now.” I’m a real estate agent, not a pumpkin carver!
Fortunately my husband is very creative, and my daughter inherited that gene. Thank goodness, because it was with great trepidation (cue: horror music) that I ventured into the age-old tradition of pumpkin carving. I knew I was in trouble – I like the lighting of the pumpkin, but the creativity part is not in my DNA.
Birth & Death of a Van Winkle Pumpkin Carver
As my daughter became old enough to understand Halloween (it started early, she was a child genius), she demanded pumpkin-carving time every October. This started at age three. By her third Halloween and every one thereafter, we were a family of pumpkin carvers.
In the early years, my husband and daughter did the carving. Charlie and Shelbe would talk about what they wanted the pumpkin to look like and then they made it happen. Meanwhile, I carefully applied the store-bought stencils to the one pumpkin that was mine. We would carve about six pumpkins every year. I say “we,” but it was really “they” as my total contribution over the years was one pumpkin a season.
Then Charlie started traveling for work, and I had to step it up. Instead of one stencil I bought six. My fingers were sooooo sore (sharper knives would have helped), but our front porch never looked better, and I’m not kidding.
Eventually, as Shelbe became older, it was rather obvious that she had inherited her father’s artistic flare and her mother’s sense of humor. Who would have guessed my daughter would turn out to be an award-winning international pumpkin carving champion?! She won the humor category at the annual Pumpkin Carver event at Northeastern University’s American College of Thessaloniki in Greece. I couldn’t have been more proud! As an international affairs student I think she has a leg up. Here is a picture of her award-winning sculpture titled “The Vomiting Pumpkin.”
These days, with Shelbe at college, I don’t do much carving, except for something like the photos below. It just requires one hole, and voila, it’s a vase!
This past week Shelbe was home from college and she and her friends carved the traditional six pumpkins. They won high honors from my perspective, and I didn’t have to do a thing. Sadly, later that week those pumpkins were murdered by a band of local raccoons.
Anyway, pumpkin carving is not such a big event in my house these days, but the town of Jericho has it goin’ on. Every year they hold the incredibly beautiful Cilley Hill Pumpkin Festival. 400-600 pumpkins are lit at dusk and stay lit till 10pm, weather permitting. Take some time to stop and enjoy the show, October 30 or 31. And happy carving!
Lea Van Winkle, Owner/Broker