Monday, September 07, 2009

Pumpkins

It's the unofficial "last day of summer" today, even though the autumnal equinox doesn't hit for another 15 days. Really, this summer has been kind of a weird one. It started off with the big westward vacation which, while fun, set the bar pretty damn high for everything else that happened this summer. Add this to the fact that it was really a pretty mild summer as Iowa summers go, and everything just kind of seems off kilter.

No matter, though, because now we're headed into fall and I love fall. Fall always reminds me of that line in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks says in an e-mail to Meg Ryan "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." Yep, I have always loved fall. What's not to love? Cooling temperatures, leaves changing color, and Ames comes to life again after its summer dormancy by virtue of the returning ISU students. I don't like football, but I love football weather. But of all the things associated with fall, I love Halloween the most.

And it's because of this long time love of Halloween that I, for years, tried to grow pumpkins. I started when we lived at our previous house. I dug a garden in the yard and planted either pumpkin seeds or baby vines - I can't recall which. I would plant them and water them and tend to them all summer, only to have one of two things happen. Either the vines would be attacked by vine borers or the flowers would bloom but never produce fruit. One year I actually got small pumpkins on the vine, but unbeknownst to me, they were of the mini-pumpkin variety. So after years of failure. I gave up. I bought pumpkins along with everyone else from the grocery store.

Well, last fall, Anna went over to my folks and there was a pumpkin decorating contest somewhere in town. Anna decorated the pumpkin, left it there, and then it rotted. My father threw it in his peony patch to get rid of it. Through absolutely no effort on his part, it grew into a vine. The last time I was over there, I was amazed to see it flowering and taking up pretty much the entire patch. But he wasn't putting any energy into it, so I figured he wouldn't be any luckier than I was.

Wrong. Here's what they brought yesterday.

A fully grown pumpkin from his own vine! I thought, surely he must have hand pollinated the flowers. Nope. Just that lucky. AND there are three more growing. It would be easy to really dislike the man if he weren't such a great guy.

So maybe next summer I'll try my luck again. But I'm not expecting much.

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