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Life is like a pumpkin; you never know how long Jack's smile will last

On Second Thought
Lead Summary
Lori Sorenson, editor

Carson and Gracie carved a Jack-o-lantern one crisp autumn day in early October. They selected a well-shaped, nicely textured pumpkin with a well-positioned flat spot for optimal display.
On a Saturday between college homework, they scooped out the innards, baked the seeds and carved a toothy smile that they illuminated with a battery-powered votive candle.
And life was good.
It grinned proudly on our front porch, as if to usher in the changing seasons.
The wind blew, the temperature dropped and brightly colored leaves littered the lawn and the porch.
And Jack smiled on.
Until Mother Nature changed her mind and returned to summer-like weather.
The humans enjoyed the Indian summer, but Jack did not. His expression fell and his teeth shriveled inward.
On the third day of sunshine and 70 degrees, he sank into himself and began to ooze.
The wicked witch after a bucket of water came to mind, as did Frosty the Snowman when he was trapped inside. In both cases, nothing remained but a hat in a puddle.
Not unlike the pumpkin stem on the porch.
It was sad.
And to think of how big and bold the expression was to begin with.
The pumpkin carvers eventually scooped the mess into a bucket to dispose of in soybean stubble rows behind the grove. They never actually verbalized it, but the two were clearly deflated.
Not unlike the pumpkin.
It occurred to me there were life lessons to be learned from the gone-too-soon Jack-o-lantern.
For one, Halloween pumpkins should be carved closer to Halloween Day (when cooler fall weather preserves them better).
Old cliches also came to mind as Jack’s happy face drooped day by day.
“All good things must end.”
“Never trust a crooked smile.”
“Mother Nature always gets her way.”
Carson and Gracie didn’t enjoy cleaning up the slimy mess, but the short-lived Jack-o-lantern served a purpose in its albeit short existence.
The young couple enjoyed an old tradition and the fruits of their labor (seasoned, baked  pumpkin seeds).
I enjoyed their creative spirit and was momentarily wistful for the time when only Mom could operate the sharp tool to create pumpkin smiles.
Yes, the Great Pumpkin experience was a great lesson in life.
… for the 20-somethings, the 50-somethings and all who wish for Jack’s smiles to last a little longer on the porch.
Happy Halloween, dear readers. May all your Great Pumpkin experiences be memorable.

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