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Death of a pumpkin

[Times photo: Patty Yablonski]


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000

It is our annual mistake, from which we never learn.

Each year we buy a plump orange pumpkin, perform radical abdominal surgery on it, hack out a "scary" face made of awkward triangles and place the gutted gourd on the front stoop. This has never been a good idea, not here, not in the Mildew State.

On those crisp autumns wherever we came from, our jack-o'-lantern (a quaint, 18th century term so dusty from disuse it makes us sneeze), our pumpkin stood firm and proud, its candle throwing off gloomy orange light right up to the time the neighborhood kids smashed it.

A hollowed-out pumpkin placed in the Florida humidity turns into a science project somewhere around the middle of Day 2.

We in Floridian are observing Halloween this year by placing our handsome, expertly carved pumpkin (no triangles for us) in the sun and . . . watching it rot.

We give you: the Withering Palm Tree Pumpkin. From time to time between now and Halloween, we will report on its firmness, color, smell and level of insect infestation, on the theory that by doing so we will squeeze some perverse pleasure out of that gourd. We think it's going to get pretty scary.

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