Becky can see the long term. It’s one of the many qualities I admire in her.
She didn’t say it in so many words, but last spring when I saw her carefully pressing the seeds into the garden hill then gently smoothing them over, I suspected she was envisioning the future. She was picturing each of her four g-kids standing months later on a beautiful autumn blue-sky day cuddling in their arms their own personal pumpkins.
And that is pretty much what happened.
OK, the youngest g-kid was in her preschool class, so she didn’t make the trip down to the country with her mom and three siblings. But after they arrived, the other three along with the adults sauntered to the now scraggly and mostly spent garden and carefully stepped among the twisting tube-like vines and broad green leaves to cut the stem — try to leave it as long as possible — of the particular orange globe each had chosen for him or herself.
After that Mom grouped the three of them into a pose hugging their treasures with an extra one on the ground in front of the threesome representing the missing preschool scholar. It was a vision come true. It’s like Becky is some sort of prognosticating pumpkin prophet.
The particular variety she planted came from a package labeled “Field Trip” which somehow seems just right for kids who were on their fall break from school. The pumpkins are smallish, maybe five pounds, and are supposed to be good for cooking although I suspect these four will serve as decorations. And decorating with pumpkins is certainly appropriate this time of the year.
In my mind, pumpkins are to October as evergreens are to December. They thrust themselves into my consciousness no matter where I turn.
As I drive the county roads, especially outside the towns and cities, pumpkins appear in my vision heaped near one roadside stand after the other almost as if the orange stacks were growing together on one continuous vine trailing down State Road 135.
The pumpkins we harvested were small as far as pumpkin go, but as almost anyone can tell you, different varieties can grow to otherworldly dimensions. Every October I look forward to and expect to see news photos of gargantuan, boulder-sized pumpkins, prize winners fork-lifted from field to fair.
Abundant and over-large pumpkins are one more symbol of the cornucopia of the fall harvest. One more reminder of the connection, however tenuous to our agricultural past.
Part of the pumpkin’s appeal is its intense orange color, which slots perfectly into the jigsaw of October autumn. The contrast of the orange pumpkins against the deep blue sky, the pale tans of dried corn stalks and the kaleidoscope of changing tree leaves in the background offers a calendar photograph of October everywhere one turns.
And then there is the pumpkin’s spheroid shape. Is it a circle that reminds us of the yearly cycle of the seasons? Is it a fat orange mystic sitting in serene acceptance of the slowly disappearing summer, or a cosmic orange egg ready to die and be re-born in the spring? Is it just a coincidence that the month of October begins with the letter “O”?
Pumpkins figure into our stories both ancient and modern: Native American myths of The Three Sisters, pumpkins, corn and beans; Cinderella’s pumpkin transformed into a carriage; The Headless Horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow;” Linus and his Halloween vigil for the Great Pumpkin; and even the trendy fall fashion of all foods pumpkin-flavored.
I’m happy that Becky’s vision of October pumpkins danced in her head last spring. And I’m not surprised her vision came to fruition; I’ve always suspected she has a gift. I wonder if she can tell me anything about the upcoming elections?
Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.