“It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin.”
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I have always loved pumpkins. There is something about their shapes, sizes, varieties, even complexions I adore. Pumpkins can be pumpkin color of course, but also blue, green, dark green, white, yellow, even mottled and variegated, smooth and warty, scarred, and some would say, ugly. I love them all.
I admire a lovely stem, gracefully twisted as it dried—the best have some of the fragile vine tendrils still attached. Only the most protected pumpkins are allowed their lovely topknots. (I confess I have saved pumpkin stems from year to year displaying them in a basket in my garden shed.) Plain grocery store pumpkins seem to be whacked off rather rudely, probably for their own safety and that of the other pumpkins in the large pallet crates they are hauled to market. Farmer pumpkins are preferred of course. These are carefully selected and carried to market—farmers markets are the places we pumpkin aficionados like to shop best.
When we lived in Southern California, Nancy, my boss was even more of a pumpkin geek than I was. The country shoppe where I was lucky enough to work became a pumpkin paradise as soon as the first grower brought in an array of pumpkins to sell. Hybrids and heirloom pumpkins mature at different rates so Nancy wanted them at their peak and the seasonal Autumn displays were anxiously awaited. My favorite, Japanese Pumpkin, a dark greenish gray and warty, smallish pumpkin was not just decorative, but very tasty in vegetable tempura. I loved pumpkin time in the country shoppe!
There can be charm in the curve or color of a pumpkin’s flesh, but also size. Anyone who has ever worked in their church’s pumpkin patch know kids are drawn to the cutie pie small ones. They are fun to decorate with and group together and more pumpkins set all together seem to call out to be pet and admired. But, it’s especially interesting to me how desirable larger, rounder, fatter pumpkins are. Big, thick, voluptuous pumpkins make the best show on a front porch. Size matters in pumpkins and bigger seems to be better. In fact, there are yearly contests for giant pumpkins in nearly every state or fall fair!
I’m always interested in publications that feature pumpkins, or any media really. I just watched a Hallmark movie about growing these behemoths which included a love story of course. It’s a very sweet story but I’ve never seen such fake pumpkins in all my life.
You will find at least a few of my collection of glass, ceramic, wood, paper mache, even dried pumpkins out all year. My all time favorite and prized pumpkin no longer exists thanks to my husband and I don’t even have a photo to document it existed. BUT, it did. Every year I have always left my pumpkins outside long after the season was over. To avoid embarrassment I moved them to the backyard and left them for the deer or the squirrels or whoever might be interested. Usually they rotted and collapsed on themselves but then Spring rains would soon encourage sprouting. Soon pumpkin vines were growing in our backyard, which became shelter for baby deer. Our yard became a nursery of sorts, and the large pumpkin leaves provided shade from the San Antonio sun, and safety enough for a mama deer to leave their babies for a while to graze.
One year I left a rather large pumpkin right out in a bare spot in the middle of the yard thinking it would be the perfect filler for the bare spot when it sprouted, and we could observe our wildlife coming and going much better. But the pumpkin never collapsed. It just sat there. One day I asked my lawn mowing husband if he thought I should move the pumpkin and he remarked about there not being much point, it was all dried out. What?!
Incredibly, the sun had completely dried out the pumpkin. It was perfectly dry and lovely and I brought it inside to marvel at the impossible. The thick flesh was now dried to a thin wall and you could hear the seeds inside rattle when it was moved. It hadn’t seemed to shrink or shrivel, just dry. It really was a perfectly dried 18 inch tall by about 26 inch around pumpkin.
I considered it a miracle and found the perfect box for it, but first wrapped it in brown paper. You see, we were in the process of moving to Virginia, or I was. I moved first, followed a couple months later by my husband as soon as our house sold. But, in his moving exhaustion, my dearest decided a dried pumpkin was not necessary to our new life in Virginia no matter how miraculous. I think I’ve over it. I think.
Okay, back down to earth. I’m on my way to buy some pumpkins. We’ll see what happens, what surprises are in store from this year’s batch. I might even grow some next season.
In the mean time, here is my Pinterest Collection of Pumpkins