What we did with a pound of pumpkin flesh

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When I was growing up, pumpkin carving required a couple of kitchen knives and a table covered with newspaper. Our jack-o-lantern designs were limited to the triangle eyes and toothy grin. Sometimes my dad would opt for a crooked eyebrow or sideways smirk on his gourd. But otherwise, our carved pumpkins, and most of those we’d see while trick-or-treating, were pretty iconic. That’s not how it is for my kids. For the past few years we’ve been buying these Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving Kit Pattern Books that sell for about $4 — usually right next to where the Halloween candy is sold. The kits come with these little ergonomic carving saws — one with larger teeth for removing large sections of pumpkin flesh and one with finer teeth for the detail work. The kit comes with a dozen rather complicated-looking patterns, which you tape to the pumpkin and score with a little plastic tool. Our pumpkins have turned out looking rather artsy the past few years. But I was always the one doing all the scoring and cutting. This year, while I was busy working on my 4-year-old’s pumpkin image of a raccoon emerging from a jack-o-lantern, my 8-year-old busied himself scoring and carving his own pumpkin. He only asked me for help one time before he produced the carving pictured here. I was pretty impressed with him. Then, once we were finished, the instructions recommend rubbing the cut surfaces with petroleum jelly and storing the pumpkins in the refrigerator to prevent drying and mold. It seemed like a long way from a quick carve, a candle and a perch on the front porch.