Today was a buzz of excitement around the house. Today was the day of our pumpkin carving party! Little boy told me later that he’s been looking forward to this day “since last winter!” I wonder how the anticipation is weighted when the wait encompasses 1/3 of your existed life. He was certainly excited.
All morning we prepared! My aspirations to harvest the earth’s bounty and create warm memories in the kitchen seem frequently thwarted by my greater priority and immediate urgency to attend to small boys.
Today was also a day for earth’s bounty though! We were to have Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash and Greens over Shell Pasta for dinner made from sage, basil, kale and swiss chard from the garden, with butternut squash, garlic, onions and creamy noodles topped with asiago shavings.
As I prepared, fragrant basil and sage filled my basket with an aroma so pungent I was uncertain whether it would mellow sufficiently in the oven to become the mild backdrop for our dinner it needed to be (it was incredible and perfect). Both boys wandered over to investigate what was being ripped from the garden and paused to assist and remove a few leaves. The kale was next, suspiciously checked for any stowaway spiders in need of re-homing before bringing the greens to the kitchen. Then the bright golden stalks of the swiss chard beaming earthy goodness were added to the basket. My heart is so full when presented with the opportunity to cook a beautiful fall dinner out of my garden for my family. It could only be more perfect with Daddy and even more family.
The sizzling herbs and veggies filled the house with an ubiquitous aroma I could almost taste and garlic and herb fragrance oozed out the front door. Then family showed up! It’s time for the party!
The day’s warm temperature was a welcome excuse to stay outside and we dug in. I have to laugh at the pictures taken often in my yard as they frequently have the “green screen” as their backdrop. If only I could use it as one and set us in a mountain scene, or a fall forest ablaze, it would be perfect.
It is pleasant to be with family and watch pumpkin faces evolve. Part of the fun is seeing everyone taking moments to be engrossed in their artwork. Family gatherings have a social context but carving takes on a concentrated look usually reserved for more serious business. You also become co-creators together and I t’s exciting to watch creation in action!
There is pleasure too in the lazy way each person can focus on the pumpkin, then take a break and check in to see how others’ are transforming. There is no set agenda or 3-step process to follow, no time-frame to finish in, no ultimate grading system or presentation to fret about. It is refreshing to do something purely for the sake of smiling and being together, working alongside one another. Somehow the presence of children, regardless of whether they themselves are old enough to participate independently, creates a need and a freedom to rediscover the simple joy of making memories. They give value and importance to a small party in a way that is difficult to fabricate without them.
The scooped-out contents of our pumpkins collect into an impressive mountain of slippery orange destined for the compost pile. What a texture sensation!
Little boy was enthralled with the tiny pumpkin-carving saws and managed to thoroughly serrate the opening to his little sugar pumpkin, claiming it with juicy little hatch-marks and criss-crosses before the original owner (Lisa) ever had a chance.
He chose a “scary!” face to carve with Nana. It’s a fine line to walk, piquing a little’s interest in the idea of scary without *actually* scaring them so bad they start having nightmares. Nana made the face scary, but not too scary.
After dinner, which was totally fabulous and finished by a crisp and delicious apple cobbler, pumpkin custard and ice cream bars, the clouds puff in and cover what little light is left before dusk. Austin diligently unwraps the candles from their packaging and gently places one in each jack-o-lantern. Then, the magic begins.
One by one the candles are lit and we see how they glow.
Gabe climbs onto the table and lifts the cover off of a pumpkin to peer in. He is enamored and instantly signs “hot” which he uses synonymously for “fire.”
As the evening wanes and it’s time to shuffle kids upstairs to the bath and say goodbye to our guests, I can’t help but smile. I am grateful for the family willing to be part of something so simple, making it so special with their presence.