Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jack O'Lanterns Part 3: The Search For Spock

Saturday is Starfish High's Open School (v 2.0). Soooo, today it was once again time to carve pumpkins. (Hey Mom, Dad, I'm getting paid to carve pumpkins!)

Since we had a lower turnout for pumpkin carving than expected last time, we had about 20 pumpkins left to carve. Plus, the kind folks at Japan Agriculture out in Date gave us two GIANT pumpkins to carve as well. Giant pumpkins don't respond so well to finesse and fine-tuned carving tools. With giant pumpkins, you have to use sheer brute force and show them who's the boss.

Which is what I did.

Although, I must admit, in this photo it looks less like I'm putting it in a figure-four leglock and more like I'm trying to lay an egg.







We had to put three candles in this one.









Here's some of the other pumpkins we carved today.













I asked the other teachers to let students know about the pumpkin carving today during their morning meetings with their classes. 3:30 P.M. (the time I told everyone we would start at) rolled around, and there was a grand total of...ME!

More than just a little disappointed, I got to work. Two days to carve 22 pumpkins, and with no help, this was going to take a while. As I got started, students started rolling in to the kitchen. Today's total ended up being around 10 students, and more students said they would help out tomorrow. Good news there. It's funny, though. All of the students complain about how much the pumpkins stink. I can't follow them. I've always like the smell of carving pumpkins, ever since I was a kid shoving my hands into a pumpkin to pull out pumpkin guts. It's like the smell of freshly raked leaves; it's an authentic "fall" smell to me.

Freshly raked/fallen leaves is not a smell you come across much in Japan. One time, on a Sunday afternoon in November, I drove from Izumo (where I was living at the time) over to Miyoshi, a city just across the Shimane/Hiroshima border on Rt. 54. I was taking some pictures for a photo collage I had planned, and I made a stop in Ozekiyama Park, which is known for the beautiful colors that the tree leaves turn in the fall. I went there a bit late to see the leaves on the trees, as they had mostly fallen off and were lying on the ground. As I walked through the park, snapping some photos, I realized that I hadn't smelled that "fall leaves on the ground" smell since I had moved to Japan. So I walked around the park, taking in the smell and thinking of when I was younger and living in Pasco. We had a lot of trees in our backyard, and one of the "helping-out-around-the-house" tasks I had was to rake up the leaves. That smell of the leaves...it was so much like being back home that I lost track of where I was. I left the park that day with a big smile plastered across my face. There's nothing like that smell, nothing at all.

Strange, the things that can trigger old memories and take you back...

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