First family pumpkin hunt yields bounty of memories

We hosted our first pumpkin (not Easter egg) hunt in our yard last weekend.

We had pumpkins of all sizes, including 10 small Sweetie Pie and Munchkin varieties that fit into a preschooler’s palm, 10 4- to 6-pound New Englands that cooks use for pies, 12 large jack-o-lantern varieties, including a 15-pound Racer variety and a couple of 25-pound Rock Stars for good measure.

The last also were referred to as the: “Mom, how are we going to carry all these huge pumpkins up the hill after the hunt?”

I am happy to report that the pumpkin hunt and decoration evening was successful, and no nieces or nephews were lost or injured in the five strategically located 3-foot-deep holes awaiting spruce trees. After racing down the grassy hill — the same hill we’ve all used for sledding when it’s covered with snow — only two of the 10 children had their hearts set on the same pumpkin.

My 6-year-old nephew Isaac sweetly asked: “Aunt Janet, may I have this pumpkin?” At that moment my 19-year-old daughter Phoebe, who was home from Anderson University for her day of fall break, darted her eyes to “her” pumpkin, which she had chosen and set back into the wheelbarrow for “safe keeping.”

Later, on the back patio table covered with recycled Daily Journal newspapers, two of my daughters and eight of my nieces and nephews worked as artists on their pumpkin masterpieces. The eldest niece at the pumpkin soiree, Nev, used a paint pen and drew lines from the stem down following each of the deep ribs about halfway down the large pumpkin. Under the waterfall of ridge lines she sponge-painted neon pink and green round circles.

Watching her older cousin, 3½-year-old Reese, one of the triplets, carefully sponge-painted her entire New England pumpkin with perfectly placed neon pink polka dots.

While I supplied paint on plates, triplet Emery, 6-year-old cousin Isaac and 3-year-old brother Drew all painted with the fervor of little men on a mission of “Let’s get this job done, we’ve got Lego architecture to construct.”

While later washing his hands, Emery was quick to inform me: “I used yellow, blue and green paint on my pumpkin, but I don’t know where that brown came from.”

While the three youngest boys finished their work, ran and wrestled in the backyard and went into the house for Duplo train track and airport play, the girls continued in their quest for pumpkin art. Daughter Aly set out a box of crayons and plugged in her wax-melting heater, assisting her cousin 10-year-old Raegan as she melted a variety of colors dripping from the crown of the pumpkin.

Glow-in-the-dark paint was used by Eli as a second choice. We never got a chance to spray-paint his pumpkin with the black chalk paint. It was windy and I didn’t want to send him home covered in “never-come-off-until-Thanksgiving” chalk paint.

As with all great pumpkin hunts, we finished by eating pizza, watching a movie and enjoyed the “First Annual Pumpkin Hunt Muffins” that were homemade by Raegan.

At the end of the evening 3½-year-old triplet Faith summed up the evening when, as she looked around the living room during “The Incredibles” movie, said, “I just love my cousins. I just love my family.”

P.S. Thanks to Isaac for sharing and letting the college student have her first choice of the pumpkins.