Pumpkin Grace

JJ wrote to me yesterday and mentioned that he considers autumn the Sunday of the season world. I guess he means that it’s not so bad by itself, but it foreshadows that long cold dark rainy season, and there’s a bit of dread.  I know what he means, but I decided to take a little challenge, to really be awake during November, noticing it, and not just wishing it were brighter.

And, in solidarity with the hard-working people who are participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month, where people write an entire book during the month of November), I’m going to try to post here about that every day.

One of my favorite things in the whole world pumpkins, partly because they’re amazing.  In a few months, a fingernail sized seed turns into a viney plant with multiple huge bright orange gourds.  That’s magic, right?  And our beloved valley looks festive and playful with all the pumpkins sitting in the field.  In a few weeks, a flood will come along, and these orange globes will be swept away, but we'll find them in odd places for the rest of the year – suspended in the branch of a tree, impaled on a fence, floating down the river.

But the very best part of the whole pumpkin life cycle is that people, ordinary citizens like us, get pumpkins, bring them home, gather in small groups, and create orange sculptures that are adorned with a flickery votive candle and set on the porch for the neighbors to enjoy.  That is the sweetest thing in the world, and I'm a little astonished that there's so much more interest in driving around seeing Christmas lights than there is in seeing pumpkins.  If I were in charge, I would start The Great Pumpkin Tour, where we'd gather together with thermoses of cider, and go from door to door admiring all the lovely art before the gourds turn into slurry, and relighting the candles if that's what was needed.


  1. Those pumpkins look terrific...I'm ashamed to admit it's been years since I carved a pumpkin.
    I think I will take a leaf from your book and try to really notice November instead of skidding through it to get to Christmas.

  2. I love the image of pumpkins in the trees after the flooding. It's a good point to try to be in the moment in November. We used to live it as the harbinger of the rain and darkness to come, full of dread and despond.

  3. Betsy, you SHOULD be in charge - you should totally be in charge. I'm voting for you.

  4. I agree, you should be in charge. I especially love your vine pumpkin.
    I am a bad mom. I haven't scooped or carved a pumpkin in years. I buy them and let my daughter have at it with the pumpkin carving set and she has fun, except they never turn out as great as she expects, but way better than if I had done them. I do insert and light the votive, so that counts for something, right?
    When mine start to fall apart, I hurl them into the woods for the critters to eat, but I haven't had a single vine sprout yet. Maybe the seeds get eaten by the squirrels.
    Anyway, I'm with you, the best part of winter holidays is looking at warm lights twinkling in the dark.

  5. After years of carving the Regular Pumpkin and the Birthday Pumpkin, I have been giving it a rest. But I'm inspired for next year. People have suddenly given themselves permission to do something besides faces, and I love the possibilites of that. Plus I could photograph it.


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