He beats on a smooth, brown-stemmed pumpkin like a bongo drum. Following his drum solo, he shuffles his toddler self to the next pile; his eyes widen and fists shake. Pumpkins!
Pumpkins pepper the front lawn of J.T. Moore Middle School. Adults and children meander in the patch, while traffic hums from the nearby intersection. One knee after another, Henry ascends a pile of the round, ribbed members of the squash family. I grab him before him tumbles down the orange mountain. On a scale from one to ten, Henry is operating at a 13.7 in the patch. I fear he will burst a blood vessel, but who has time to worry about blood vessels when surrounded by palates of interesting fruits? (Yep, pumpkins are technically fruits.)
Did I mention gourds? Gourds, gourds, gourds! There are more gourd varieties this year than flavors of Oreos. I WANT a goose-necked gourd. I love their curvy necks and fading green skin. If given the funds, I would purchase hundreds and design gourd sculptures in my front lawn. I would build a gourd replica of Egypt’s pyramids, a replica of the Alamo, and a gourd replica of Graceland. Since I live in Nashville, I feel obligated to create a gourd replica of our replica of the Parthenon. Question: Do you know if Nashville enforces a gourd limit per front lawn? If so, please page my beeper at 4789297.
Alright, let’s get down to business. We need a pumpkin. Actually, my wife and I desire a pumpkin, but Henry does not see things the same way. He came to the patch to play with a metal wagon; the cart reserved for customers to haul their loads. Henry eyes and circles the wagon like a sports car on a dealership lot. First things first, he squats to inspect the rubber wheels. Next, he lifts the long, black handle and leans backwards (all twenty-five pounds) to set the wagon in motion. He travels at a rate of six inches per hour across the patch.
I am confident my wife will locate an attractive pumpkin. While she searches, I feel a tractor beam pulling me towards the hybrid pumpkins (another popular patch item this year). The hybrids are so darn pretty! Their shades of grey, blue, and red are amplified by the endless orange. Although, I can’t imagine carving a fierce face into a pastel pumpkin. Truth be told, they are a better fit for a autumn scene at Pottery Barn than your front doorstep. Just sayin’.
Alert: Pinterest is crashing right now because too many soccer moms are pinning pictures of hybrid pumpkins attached with craft instructions. Stop the pastel insanity!
Pumpkins, more than anything else, give Halloween its character. Purchasing, carving, and lighting them infuses the autumn with magic. The trip to the local patch with hyped-up kids to acquire a humble member of the squash family acts as a ritual. It marks time, provides meaning, and draws us closer together as families and communities. Removing their innards, squishing the slimy seeds, and designing goofy faces IS Halloween.
Note: I can’t get this song out of my head. Pumpkin in the morning, pumpkin in the evening, pumpkin at supper time. Seriously, its lodged in my brain. I’m embarrassed to admit it. I think it was inspired by this evil Bagel Bites commercial (circa 1996).
We found a pumpkin. A beautiful, orange squash to carve and call our own. I named it Bocephus in honor of Hank Williams Jr., the legendary country music singer and mega redneck. Why? I don’t know. It felt right. Not only did we purchase a well-shaped pumpkin, but we splurged and took home a couple of hybrids, gourds, and mini-pumpkins. They offer payment plans at our patch, so we signed up.
I want to wrap this post up with a picture of Bocephus. In the words of Cousin Eddie, its “REAL NICE.”