When I was a little girl,
I can remember going outside and standing in my parent’s backyard – and being very aware that it was springtime. My dad and my grandpa had just finished building a raised garden, and I was enamored by the season and the seeds.
I got the point that these little seeds would become something special, and I had asked for a package myself – pumpkin seeds.
I went around everywhere, and planted those seeds, especially in my mom’s prized flower bed, near the lilac bushes.
All of a sudden, these little green leaves surfaced, and I kept my mouth quiet about the seeds I’d planted.
“Is that poison ivy?” My mom asked my dad.
“I know that poison ivy has three leaves,” replied my dad “and it’s a vine… but I don’t know if that’s what it looks like.”
That was all the reason my mom needed to keep me out of the backyard.
I would kneel near the blinds and run around on the deck – knowing that I had planted my pumpkins, but not daring to believe that these big, healthy green plants were really the ones that I had put into the ground in an unsupervised moment. I was afraid to make any claims of ownership for any all of the seeds that I had planted, – but I was so pleased with their growth.
One day, the green vines and leaves were spilling mischeviously over the side of the flower beds, and crawling up the fence, around the garden, and the wood piles near the apple tree – a a yellow bloom opened itself to the sun.
“That’s not poison ivy.” Reported one parent. “Those are pumpkins.”
I grinned and took full responsibility.
“What will we do with them?” My mom wanted to know. “It seems a shame to cut down such healthy green plants. There are so many kids in the neighborhood…”
My dad did not enjoy mowing around the vines that took over our backyard that summer. There were pumpkins galore.
They spiraled and trilled and grew towards the sun, and filled small spaces with neon tendrils and transformed the whole space filling it with a productive goodness – and the subsequent little neighborhood into a sense of awe and wonder at how quickly a few misplaced seeds would blossom and bless – if they were planted in all of the ‘wrong’ places – which just happened to be the ‘right’ soil.
No one wanted to waste the best flower fertilizer on a pumpkin, which would grow big in dirt properly. But oh, how those pumpkins loved that space – and how our friends and neighborhood blushed and grinned when they found the right pumpkin to take home and love on.
“Those pumpkins.” They would say and shake their heads.
As far as I can remember, no one complained about the pumpkins in our yard – despite the worry of my parents – they just quietly grew in harmony and blessed all who quietly knew that they were there, and once they were revealed, even the ones who might have complained saw the pride and joy that came from that silly little patch – little boys and girls watching the flowers grow and orb – claiming – this one is mine! And that one is yours! There was respect for the partnerships and identity came from them.
And there is enough for everybody when we are fair – in fact, there were still some after the holiday – to spare.
I was delighted to learn that pumpkin vines grow similarly well in the subtropics. They are happy in the dry season and bring joy and relief to the people on the surface of sandy soil. Pumpkins are everywhere, and thrive and bless the communities with an abundance of fruit when they are allowed to grow together in a spirit of covenant joy and peace. There’s no need to call out laws of where they can’t grow – they are already there as they are – and if you don’t want them, don’t plant them in your backyard, but don’t impose your own views on your neighbor.
Pumpkins are ready for adversity – and tolerable of conditions. If you plant a pumpkin in a flower garden or a near-desert, it’s still going to be dependable – because that is how strong it needed to be in order to sprout and be seen in the first place. If you plant a pumpkin to the ends of the earth, it will feed you. If you plant a tomato, you’d better have lots of supplements and cross your fingers – and even then, God may not intervene – if He did not call it to be as it is, even if it exists, it isn’t as blessed.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, you may not cherish the vines in your own backyard, and people might be confused about what this lush green plant is and fear that it will take over – until someone knocks on your door and brings you something so sweet as a pumpkin pie. That’s when you learn to appreciate and recognize the blessings of this particular fruit – that are both distinctive, and versatile in ways that potatoes and carrots are not. You don’t have to grow a pumpkin vine in your backyard to take them home and enjoy the season from someone who enjoys the experience, just like watermelons, you just have to learn how to train – or make enough space for – the vines.
Nobody would like pumpkin pie if it didn’t pair nicely with cinnamon and cloves. There’s just a different chemistry – that needs to be respected.
I hope to write more pumpkin posts from the village soon, and share more pumpkin stories – from the village and beyond!