They start out small, flanked by tendrils and bright yellow blossoms. Their skins are green and striped, delicate and impressionable. Some start out yellow. Some are fat, some are squat, some are lumpy, but they're all bound to be the highlight of autumn to come.
The growing season for pumpkins is pretty much over, even though we have a very mild climate in the Pacific Northwest. Leaves will be covered with powdery mildew, vines will shrivel and dry, and exposure to sunlight will turn pumpkin rinds orange. We've cut ours back and harvested all but the last two. Several have already found homes on neighbors' porches and front steps, but the rest will stay on as decorations, snacks, and chicken treats.
|Photo courtesy of Charlesbridge.|
So, now that you know what our pumpkin patch provides, let me continue to profess my love for punchkins. I love their bright orange glow on drizzly mornings. I love watching them darken after being cut and propped up on the porch railing. I love carving them and scooping out their guts. It's slippery and messy and disgusting and the most fun you can have late at night in your kitchen the week before Halloween. I love roasting (and eating) the seeds. Did I mention I love the seeds? They're plump and smooth, and the thick border that runs around their little almond-shaped border reminds me of old book bindings. I love pumpkin pies (and I hold the record in my family for most pumpkin pie consumed in a 24 hour period, a memorable trophy from the Year of Pies at Papadon's house one Thanksgiving). I love pumpkin flavored foods. Too much. Pumpkin scones are perhaps my favorite naughty treat. I even love pumpkin shaped candy corn. But the plants are where the affair begins. The sight of the first pumpkin sprouts in late spring and early summer gives me a thrill. Will they run wild and grow a string of little pumpkins on the path? Or will they devote themselves to one or two monstrous specimens? I love the disarray and abandon with which they conquer the yard. Pumpkins know no boundaries, nor do they respect a hefty pruning. Yep. I love punchkins.
It's been mistaken more than once that my favorite holiday is Halloween, which it is not. I remain faithful to Thanksgiving, a holiday devoted to food. I do like Halloween, however, and I always feel a nagging regret when work or other responsibilities get in the way of pumpkin carving, cookie making, candy eating, and the annual neighborhood candy bowl party (complete with bonfires, pop-up tents to keep out the rain, tons of food, loads of candy, and more than a few cans and bottles of brew). There are plenty of people who get into Halloween way more than I do, despite my affinity for bats, strings of candy corn lights, and those little paper ghosties people hang in their trees. I'm sorry if it disappoints, but my heart will always be in the pumpkin patch first.
Hungry for more pumpkin fun? Check out Small Measure, Pumpkin Muffins and How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin over at Veggie Venture, and more muffins at Farmgirl Fare.