Halloween 2017 is long gone but, as usual, many of this year’s crop of carved pumpkins remained for days and weeks afterwards to haunt yards, gate posts, verandas, and entrance-ways across Vancouver.
Given the sheer size of the city it is impossible to get one’s fill of creatively carved pumpkins in the mere handful of days between when the pumpkins first appear, to the night of Halloween itself.
So the persistence of Halloween pumpkins is a very
gourd good thing; it means that more of them can be seen by more of us.
A belated taste of Halloween pumpkin spice
It has been my pleasure these last two weeks (as I have binned for returnable beverage containers) to seek out surviving Halloween pumpkins still on display in the Fairview and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods.
Admittedly, the pumpkins that I found still loitering in front yards were not the same fresh-faced jack-o-lanterns that greeted trick-or-treaters on October 31st. More than a few looked beat up and none were still lit up.
But it has to be said that time brings with it a certain maturity.
To be blunt, it is only in the days and weeks after Halloween (as rot and decay visibly sets in) that Halloween pumpkins even begin to look scary.
Like Christmas trees—only more convenient
Carved pumpkins are, when you stop and think about it, the Christmas trees of Halloween. The similarities between the two are obvious.
Both evergreens and orange pumpkins tend to make their appearance days before the celebrations they herald. Likewise, both trees and squash traditionally features a degree of original hand decoration—from the desultory to the downright elaborate. And both are usually left to linger until long after the candy is eaten, the presents are unwrapped and the lights are extinguished.
In the end, both are left for compost.
Pumpkins, when they do go in the trash, go away the quickest because they have been slowly decomposing into mush practically since the day they were picked.
Christmas trees, on the other hand, will stubbornly litter the back alleys of Vancouver for exactly as long as it takes to persuade them otherwise with a wood chipper.
One other way in which the two differ is that you are not likely to see me posting photos of leftover Christmas trees, unless, that is, to complain about them piling up.
And the smashingest pumpkin of 2017 is…
In my post-Halloween travels this November I encountered dozens of fun-looking pumpkins—some of them very excellently executed—the pumpkin that leads this post for example; that’s not just a carving, that’s a full-blown sculpture!
I would like to thank everyone who got creative this Halloween and turned the Vancouver neighbourhoods into artful pumpkin patches.
But there can be only one winner and hard work will have to be its its own reward this year. My favourite Halloween pumpkin of 2017 is arguably not the product of any sustained effort but possibly of laziness and last-minute inspired thinking. And do I not detect a Japanese design esthetic?
In any case, the result is simplicity itself and a work of sheer genius! I hope that it serves as an inspiration to others.
Some random pumpkin facts to close:
- Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with squash, cucumbers and watermelons.
- Pumpkins are seed-bearing and therefore are closer to the definition of a fruit than a vegetable.
- The name for a pumpkin expert is a cucurbitologist.