With Halloween right around the corner,
we dove in to carve our pumpkins Hawaiian style.
It was like being in outer space.
The innards of the pumpkin were floating around me, suspended in front of my face, frozen for a second in time. It was a majestic sight, beautiful, like the silent pulse of a jellyfish, the pieces of pumpkin at peace with the sea, the seeds all rotating in place.It was like being in outer space. The innards of the pumpkin were floating around me, suspended in front of my face, frozen for a second in time. It was a majestic sight, beautiful, like the silent pulse of a jellyfish, the pieces of pumpkin at peace with the sea, the seeds all rotating in place.
Then the current came through, and the scene was swept away, like wipers on a windshield. My body was pushed a few feet along the bottom before I settled back down to the ocean floor. I centered the pumpkin between my knees and drove the knife into it.
For a while now, I had heard of scuba companies in Hawai‘i taking people underwater to carve pumpkins. The concept was always amusing to me, one of those things I just had to try. I had a lot of questions, starting with the most basic. Don’t pumpkins float?
Why yes, yes they do. When I first got in the water, the pumpkin was still whole, and it was like trying to bring a basketball underwater. Bobbing at the surface, I wrangled my knife and cut the top off, allowing water to rush in. This allowed me to descend below the surface with it under my armpit.
Yet even when they are hollow, pumpkins still want to float. So once I reached the floor, after I pulled out more of the inner flesh, I had to toss a two-pound dive weight inside to get it to stay put. That managed to stabilize the pumpkin on the sandy bottom, allowing me to cut in where the eyes would go.
Still, it wasn’t easy. With the currents, it was hard enough just to keep myself in one place, let alone a buoyant gourd. Add in that you’re trying to breathe slowly and that you’re wielding a sharp knife, and the whole thing becomes pretty exciting.
I made the mistake of cutting a large mouth at the bottom of the pumpkin early on. It was a trap door – the dive weight kept slipping out through it, and the pumpkin would beam up towards the surface immediately.
But I was happy about it. Really, it was quite funny. Sometimes I would let it float up, then grab it at the last minute. A lot of fish came around to join the party. They seemed to like the taste of pumpkin.
I have the jack-o-lantern on my shelf now. Sure, it looks a little weird. My friends tease me and say it looks like it was done by a five-year old.
They usually stop laughing – and start listening – when I tell them I carved it 40-some feet under the sea.