Everybody has a story: Pumpkin passion renders writer unspeakably loquacious



When revealing that I love pumpkins, the worst I imagine is that my husband will lock me up and throw away the key. But so far he hasn’t called the locksmith, so I feel fairly certain that my infatuation can be considered harmless.

My heart beats faster, my eyes open wider and the smile on my face broadens whenever, especially at this time of year, I come into the vicinity of pumpkins. This is no new or fleeting sensation, not some fly-by-season fling or even a one-year stand. This deep-seated emotional attachment has never wavered through drought nor freeze nor Kent and Sauvie Island crop failures. It’s the Real Thing of which Halloween dreams are made.

I’ve loved pumpkins since I was very young. It may have begun at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, which my parents took me to. The tall blue obelisk and the huge orange sphere which stood together symbolized the unity of the world and science. Four-year-olds are not thought to have such powerful emotions, but love happens. I was smitten forever.

I now collect pumpkins of many shapes and materials because of this affection. As a child, I was allowed to take one home from the store and make a jack-o-lantern and eventually a pumpkin pie. This cinched the bond. I concluded that anything so beautiful that can be so tasty is to be prized.

Later, on fall travels along Highway 50 to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the trip known to native Baltimoreans as “goindownyoshun” was much provocation. There were the numerous farms, flat fields blatantly displaying their charms, shining with orange globes lying coyly in their sandy rows to trap the unwary infatuee. My eager eyes caught sight of the brightly burnished balls and I was entranced.

A traditionalist

It’s not true that I don’t love my family, my life’s partner or even the human race. It’s just that The Pumpkin reaches inside me to a place where no one or nothing else goes and grips my heart in a vise of sheer adoration. I want to gather it up and take it with me and fill my home with its earthy scent, blazing warmth and wholesome goodness.

Now I know there are many varieties to admire, even some different shapes and colors, with names like Sultan’s Turban and Ghostly White, but I tend to be a purist and only the bright orange and nicely rounded traditional patch pumpkins need apply for my devotion.

I enjoy driving to the amazing maize-field mazes, to gather my loved ones into my arms while grandkids are left discarded in the breeze. Waiting for the flatbed hayride truck to return us all to the safety of the barns and fruit stands, where apple cider waits and gift shops give dubious shelter, always brings logic and security to my world. No matter how chaotic and despondent reality may seem, in the Land of the Pumpkin, life is calm and sunny.

This is why, when the barbarians of today decide to catapult these genteel, civilized orbs of peace, smashing them on their trebucheted altar of thrills, my heart is sundered by the searing pain of this purposeless mutilation and useless death of my loves.

So today, I shall plead for a ban on all methods of injury to those I love. Smash a pumpkin? There shall be no mercy for the senseless squandering of something so exquisite unless the end result becomes a pudding, a cake or a pie. This is moral law.

My affair with pumpkins usually lasts until my heart and stomach are satiated. When the last leaf has fled the trees and the first frost batters down the brown fields, until the blues, whites and grays of winter cover the landscape and the quiet bliss of Christmas comes to cool me off, I remain faithfully besotted with orange pumpkin love.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Email is the best way to send materials so we don’t have to retype your words and borrow original photos. Send to neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA 98685. Call Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.