The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 26, 2012

LEVINE: Revisiting an old nemesis

By Scott Levine
Associate Editor

CLINTON — I met my worst nightmare Thursday.

No, I didn’t stumble across a munchkin costume, no matter how much my family and co-workers would have liked. I stood toe to toe with the insides of a pumpkin, a sight I hoped would have stayed in my childhood.

I avoided the annual pumpkin carving last year, despite grabbing a few pumpkins from the Pride of the Wapsi. Since my daughter was only 1, I avoided having to mess with pumpkin guts.

This year was a different story.

We once again trekked to Long Grove to partake in the games at the pumpkin patch, and returned home with four pumpkins. Since my daughter still can’t slice and dice a pumpkin with a knife, I thought maybe we might stick to using markers, instead of digging through a mess.

I was wrong.

We started off our project just as I had remembered. I grabbed a big knife, and cut out the bottom of the pumpkin. My daughter appeared ready to get dirty, until we removed a piece of her pumpkin, allowing the smell of pumpkin to waft into the air.

She gave me a worried look and we told her to dig in. It had been about two decades since I carved pumpkins, so I was unaware of added tools, other than the trusty big knife. But our carving kit came with multiple little knives to go along with scoops, designs and an assortment of other tiny tools.

She grabbed the small shovel and slowly inched her hand toward the hole. She gave me another wince before digging in. After getting a spec of orange goo on her hand, she said “yuck,” and showed she had a little bit of my personality, at least when it came to getting messy.

Even though I would have loved to join her, I had to live up to that parent role model garbage, so I dug in and raced through removing all the junk from my pumpkin. When I finished, I received help from my daughter who was more interested in carving than cleaning.

Once I picked a design (which I hadn’t noticed was toward the top of the difficulty scale) my daughter and I taped the design to our pumpkin and started. Art definitely wasn’t my forte growing up, and as I was slicing through my paper that was supposed to read “Welcome,” I began to think choosing an easier model would have been more my speed.

Paper and pumpkin juice flew everywhere. But eventually, we made progress. When we poked out the parts that were supposed to be cut, we were amazed that it actually looked somewhat similar to the picture.

My wife joined in the fun and created a ghost, while we finished off my daughter’s project by going old school, and focusing on the triangle pumpkin.

I’m still not too fond of digging through the pumpkins, and I’m definitely not that fond of cleaning up the mess, but when next year happens, I won’t be too apprehensive when grabbing the knife and carving pumpkins in anticipation of Halloween. Hopefully next year, my daughter will be just as excited about getting messy as she was about carving.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at