by Arleen Kaptur
It's a beautiful Fall day - you head out to your local pumpkin patch in the hope of finding that one and only orange globe that will captivate the youngsters, and bring some chuckles and giggles from young and old alike. Of course, your pumpkin is totally free of any bruises or blemishes and is definitely in the shape of that idea that keeps popping up in your head of the kind of face you want to carve this year.
A smooth and evenly colored one is absolutely perfect. It should have a flat bottom and should be able to sit upright. If you have very small children who want to lend a hand this year in carving, pick a lighter-colored and softer pumpkin to make their first attempts a bit easier.
With handy marker in hand, you lightly trace your design or run one off on the computer as a pattern. You could also play "connect the dots" and then cut. Then the fun begins - you cut, saw, and push and pull and there you have it - the perfect "this year's" sensational pumpkin. (You should really scrape away the pulp until the area you plan to carve is 1" thick. Hold your saw like a pencil and saw steadily up and down, just like a sewing machine. Don't use saws to cut the lid, or twist, bend or jab.)
Two things happen to pumpkins once you cut them. They dry out and shrivel or they mold. Not good! To protect, cover the carved areas with plastic wrap, if not using a candle, or with vaseline. Should the worse happen
and that pumpkin shrivels, don't despair. Soak it in water for 6-8 hours. Use a bucket or bathtub. Let it drain and then dry it very carefully.
Come Halloween night your pumpkin will be the highlight of your outdoor decor and your artistic talent will shine! For easier lighting, cut the "lid" from the bottom and fit the pumpkin over the light, instead of reaching in. A whole lot easier and safer - The Great Pumpkin will be watching so do yourself proud!