Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Very Scary Pumpkin

A few days before Hallowe'en, I was on my own in a hotel across the street from a pumpkin patch. Hallowe'en is a big deal in the United States. Every business I go into has fake spiderwebs all over the place, or skeletons, or witches. It spoils the professional look of some of the FBOs, but it seems to be expected. I'm not sure if Americans just celebrate every holiday to the max, or whether Hallowe'en is far enough removed from religion that everyone can celebrate it without having to worry about political correctness, or maybe just because it involves masses of candy. I'll have to be here for Easter and see if those celebrations are as exuberant.

orange and white pumpkins arranged in rows

Thanksgiving is still to come in the US (Canadian Thanksgiving was a couple of weeks ago, as Thanksgiving is essentially a harvest festival, and anything not harvested before mid-November is going to be lost to frost). The pumpkin farm sells all different sizes of gourds and squashes for eating and table decorations. There is also a pumpkin maze and hayrides and so on.

Bix box of decorative gourds

Five dollars cash got me the largest pumpkin I cared to carry across the street. I lugged it back to the hotel room, washed it off, and put it on the patio while I thought about what to carve. I Googled for pumpkin decorating ideas, but most involve stencils or demand elaborate tools. I've got a small utility knife, a plastic knife, a coffee cup and an ice bucket. And none of the ideas online was very scary. I wanted a really scary jack o' lantern.

pumpkin waiting to be carved

Everyone in the rest of the world knows North Americans do this, right? To celebrate Hallowe'en, we take gourds, scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh and carve designs into the skin, through the flesh. Then we put candles inside so that the designs glow. If you scoop out enough flesh so that the walls of the gourd are translucent, the whole pumpkin glows too, but a lot of people are lazy and only remove the seeds and goop, leaving too much thickness of flesh for the light to shine through. You can also use the scooped out flesh to make pumpkin pies with, but pumpkins are cheap, so again, many people don't bother. I'm pretty sure that Hallowe'en jack o'lanterns were responsible for both the first time I was allowed to use a sharp knife, and the first time I was allowed to use fire. There's a strong thread of memory going back to childhood through jack o' lanterns, for me.

And then I got an idea for the scariest jack o' lantern I've ever made. Don't look at it too long, or you might get nightmares.

Carved pumpkin depicting an airplane lifting off from the end of a runway by moonlight. The right propeller is turning. The left propeller is stopped. Scary!

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

cool! it must've been difficult to carve.

slightly scarier would be with both engines out, i guess.

Pyry said...

Now that is properly scary. The nose gear and tail make it look like the cursed engine is the left one...

Blake said...

LOL thats awesome! That prop doesn't look feathered!

nec Timide said...

Well done!

Rainmaker said...

Wow, that's impressive!

I wish I had thought about carving pumpkins that elaborate when I had to spend 6 months in a hotel in JAX.

Btw, what did the house keepers think of your pumpkin extracts?

Oshawapilot said...

Now, if the gear was stuck up on one side it would be a downright terrifying pumpkin, instead of just a scary one.

;-)

Good job, I love it.

Sadly, I think the intent would be lost on 99.9% of trick or treaters.

Aviatrix said...

Hotel staff saw me arriving with the pumpkin. I carved it on the patio and extracted the guts into a plastic bag. I just brought the plastic bag out to the front desk and they took care of it.

Anonymous said...

Love it!!!

Anonymous said...

How scary can it be? You're landing on a lighted runway :).

Lame joke. Sorry.

Norman

Mac said...

Be careful with Easter in the US, you could blink and miss it. Americans don't even get a day off, much less the long weekend extravaganza that happens up North.

fy said...

That's hilarious!

Kevin said...

Oooo - too scary! Unfeathered, gear down, untrimmed! :-) That's hilarious - I think I might try that this year, too!

Paul said...

An Apache probably -- very scary.

Let us know if you get any Trick or Treaters.

Cheers,

--paul

Head in the Clouds said...

Awesome! I showed it to my colleagues who are also pilots. We decided that scariest would be with a high nose attitude-- i.e. on takeoff.

cockney steve said...

If I squint a bit, I see a winking pirate with twinkly cheeks. :-)

Among your other talents, you are obviously artistic, good with your hands and excellent at photography.
(we already knew you were a first-rate Pilot and Author!.

Aviatrix said...

It is supposed to be on take-off. I couldn't put it in a very high nose attitude and still show the propellers the way I wanted to, because the horizontal stab would have been in the way, and then I would have needed unsupported pumpkin bits.

If I did it again I would cheat and just draw the nose gear strut shorter, so you could tell it was nose up. That's the problem with silhouette: I guess some people see it as a rear view over the landing threshold instead of head on over the departure end of the runway.

Anonymous said...

That is an amazing piece of art!

Anonymous said...

Very nice! Got to have something crafty to do in FL, especially if you're not able to fly because of the approaching tropical storm.
That would be more my situation than yours right now since you are up north-- I got cancelled today because of Noel.

Jesse said...

I find that extremely creative and well carved to boot. Thanks for sharing it with us!

elay said...

very cool pics!

good job on the pumpkin..=) sure looks difficult to carve an airplane in there..=)

Dave Starr said...

Very cute ... best pumpkin art I've ever seen, that's for sure.

Funny how holidays get ignored or adopted in different countries. Here in the Philippines November 1st, All Saint's day is a _big_ holiday and is coupled with the more general Asian tradition of visits to relative's graves. But Halloween goes totally un-noticed.

In Japan, where no other Western holiday draws any attention ... except Christmas shopping in department stores ... Halloween is a _big_ thing. When I lived on a US AFB there, Halloween eve was the only night in the year that the gates were open to off-base Japanese folks and literally battalions of exquisitely costumed children would come to the doors of the American homes there for several hours ... all carefully monitored by organized parent 'watchers" and every single one with a carefully rehearsed, perfectly pronounced English "Thank You" for each candy gift. I found out from one of my Japanese employees that her children's school had a mandatory full week of instruction/rehearsal for any child who intended going trick or treating ... those three years were the only time I looked forward to Halloween ... it's a big deal to some, for sure.

Greybeard said...

Dave S-
Thanks for the insight into Japan and Halloween. We are visiting our son in Arizona and were surprised no trick-or-treaters came to his apartment door last night, even though the area is covered with Hispanic kids. I think "All Saint's Day" is a bigger deal here than Halloweeen too.
Shame.
Now we have to eat all this damn candy ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Weedwhacker with one caged up. Awesome.

As for holidays, traditions are funny about how and when they're adopted. I've read that Christmas wasn't much of a holiday until Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol".

DA...

Anonymous said...

wow not scary...srry man i dont get it!!!