Friday, October 28, 2011

Ghosts of Pumpkins Past

Just what constitutes a perfect pumpkin is in the eye of the beholder. Some people go for the really zaftig pumpkins, the supersized wallowing-hippo ones like this nearly-a-ton new recordholder.

Some like the tall, skinny, dark orange varieties, while others go for the classic round, yellow-orange types, the kind that filled Linus's very sincere pumpkin patch.

When our daughter was a toddler, very small round pumpkins with sturdy stems were the gourds of choice. Their appeal was obvious--a little kid could hug them, pick them and carry them around, and generally treat them like a cooperative, spherical version of a guinea pig.

As she got older, her taste morphed to match mine: cheerful, basketball-sized round punkins. We'd go to the pumpkin patch and search until our fingers and toes froze to find just the right one.

      Finally the season came when she urged us to fill the wheelbarrow with pumpkins instead of picking just one perfect specimen. She was happy to help us make a selection, but also wanted to make sure her own choices stood independently from ours.

(I knew that, developmentally, kids have to separate from their parents as part of recognizing their individuality, but nobody had ever suggested that rotund autumnal fruits were going to act out the progression for us.)

Size-wise, the pumpkins hit their zenith when she was about ten, and now that she's in her teens, the pumpkins of choice are either weirdly shaped or microscopic. Carving is beside the point.
So we don't have any super-duper jack o'lanterns on our porch this year--just the kooky cucerbits in the photo above, lolling on top of the television cabinet.

But what our household lacks in effort and imagination this year is amply balanced out by the effort and imagination that went into creating this 14-pumpkin-high tower in our neighborhood.

I am not sure if the pumpkin on the ground fell off the top of what was once a 15-pumpkin tower (I would think it would be even more of a "squash" than it botanically is, if that were the case) or if it's trying to nuzzle in underneath the stack.