Monday, November 13, 2006

A Pumpkin Tale Part 7: When You Least Expect It...

...tragedy may strike. September 27.
(Click pictures for larger views)
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"That small circle of earth became a second home to both of us. Gardening boring? Never! It has surprise, tragedy, startling developments - a soap opera growing out of the ground. I'd forgotten that tremolo of expectation produced by a tiny forest of sprouts." ~ Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks
(If you've missed the first six installments, you might want to read them first, here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6.)

Life was good in the pumpkin patch.
Who knew it could change in an instant?

......The lady had already harvested four beautiful pumpkins; all coach shaped and orange, each weighing six to seven pounds. In the patch, pumpkins were growing larger at astronomical rates, vines ignored her attempts to rein them in, pumpkin flowers blossomed and new pumpkins were discovered daily. At least three of the remaining pumpkins appeared to be giants; or at least really, really big.

October 4th

The lady had been very careful with each pumpkin; she tried not to move the pumpkins as their stems were still quite fragile and easily broken. She read that pumpkins should ripen on the vine; after picking they do not mature to that bright orange color she hoped for. One pumpkin grew at a strange angle in the yard; it lay on its side, sticking up a bit out of the grass. This was not a very stable position and the lady knew the weather patterns were changing.

One day a 'Noreaster came through. It was not the right time of year for 'Noreasters and this one was strange; it moved south instead of north. But the winds were very strong and the rain pounded; tree limbs fell, leaves were stripped from the trees, flower pots were blown over...... it was a fierce storm. When the winds died down, the lady saw that tragedy had befallen her pumpkin.

A broken stem.

It was sitting alone, right side up in the grass; no longer attached to the vines, its stem broken through. What is the lady to do? She most certainly wasn't going to throw her pumpkin away, especially one of this size and so perfectly shaped. It was heavy. The lady carefully lifted her pumpkin and carried it into the house. She washed it gently with the 10% bleach mixture and rinsed it thoroughly. This pumpkin measured 13 inches in diameter and weighed in at 21 pounds.

Size comparison with one of the earlier pumpkins. Side view.

The lady didn't know if her sad pumpkin would ever change color now, but she knew it could still be used for sweet pies and muffins. So she placed the pumpkin in a special padded box bed in the sunroom, to cure for at least ten days, probably longer. Her traumatized pumpkin would rest with the smaller pumpkins, all bright orange, already in place... waiting to be cut.

Size comparison. Top view.

The lady still took hope. It's October, fruit flies still roam within the ever blooming pumpkin flowers; and there are still four pumpkins that have a chance. Two are huge, one is medium and one small; all are loved. The cold is coming; with the cold, the vines will wither and the fragile connection between pumpkin and the earth will become even more tenuous. Still, the lady has an idea; probably a bizarre plan, but maybe it will work...... you'll just have to come back to find out!

(To be continued..... but yet again.... not today.)
(end of post)

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