Living in an area of the world where the seasons dictate our gardens and our outdoor activities, the time is upon us where we take stock in what has been, what has grown, and what we have to look forward to.
Plucked from a rather large bush near our garden, these two lovely pumpkins were a gift from the compost fairies. Don’t believe me? Here is proof positive.
There is of course a story, a legend, that includes drama, awe, and surprise.
When a very young farmer offers up his well tended produce to you, take it. Pay him what ever he asks because the gratitude you see in his eyes is nothing compared to the magic in his offering.
It was the end of summer, 2012, while wandering through the local farmers market in search of the seasons first pumpkins that we begin this tale. Not finding much of the over-sized squash, a boy of about eleven years old caught my attention and beckoned, holding in his hands a pumpkin of greenish blue hue. Hmmm, not exactly what I had in mind, but there was something in his posture that told me this was no ordinary pumpkin. He grew a patch of them himself, over the summer, his mother told us. We bought the pumpkin and, promptly gave it place of honor on a bench next to the front door. A decorative sign of welcome for the next season.
Mother Nature had something else in mind for this area of the Jersey Shore that year though. A devastating hurricane named Sandy blew through, knocking out power, ripping roofs from houses and uprooting trees, throwing them on their sides like they were bowling pins. It was a mess, and yet, we were grateful that it wasn’t worse.
Halloween was canceled in our little borough. Cancelled! The first time in for ever, there was no holiday. No trick or treaters, no costumes, nothing. The pumpkin was not carved into a Jack-O-Lantern. The mood was grim, it got colder outside, and still we had no heat or electricity. The pumpkin was tossed onto the compost pile near the garden and not thought of again. Yards were cleared of debris, houses mended, electricity restored, and the seasons came and went.
It was mid-summer of 2013 when we noticed the squash leaves climbing not only through the garden, but up the Holly trees and into the bushes. We hadn’t planted squash seeds in the spring so these vines became a curiosity.
We started to follow the vines and noticed a small green pumpkin growing in the garden, and another outside the garden fence, and another under a bush, and yet another in the bush. The biggest surprise were the pumpkins growing forty feet above the garden in the holly trees. Too high to climb up and bring down, we left them to the fate of weather, birds and the climbing animals. They eventually fell to the ground with a thunk and a splat.
The other pumpkins however, were brought into the kitchen to become delicious pies. A year after we bought the original pumpkin at the farmers market, we were enjoying the miracle of its offspring.
This Jarrahdale (pronounced ghir a delli), a native to Australia, was sliced open, seeded, set on a cookie sheet and baked to sugary goodness in the oven.
Scooped out and made into luscious pies, the seeds were roasted and eaten so nothing went to waste, except for one little pumpkin that we never got around to cooking. It was tossed onto the compost pile.
The first and second pictures in this story are this years (2014) miracle magic pumpkins. Again, we did not plant squash seeds, but the compost fairies thought we should have pumpkins just the same. The two large pumpkins in the photo grew in the bush. None climbed the holly trees this year.
My hope is that one day, the little boy, the gardener of unusual pumpkins, finds this story so he can know that his well tended garden lives on, years later. He has never been forgotten and his pumpkins are indeed fruitful, amazing, and delicious.