Time to start planning for Halloween. No, really. I mean it.
Pumpkin seeds in these climes should be in the ground by late May, which means that it is now decision time on the subject of “to pumpkin” or “not to pumpkin.”
My wife, Julie, and I had never planted pumpkins until just last year. The idea was that our preschool grandsons, Easton and Barrett, would help with the planting and nurturing of their favorite orbs. It would all culminate in a pumpkin decorating party of epic proportions. But I was more than a little reluctant. My hesitation was related to the fact that pumpkins are, as you know, a vining plant.
The widest bed in our back yard is only about eight feet across. That’s not a lot of breathing room. Taking the pumpkin plunge, I knew right from the start, had the potential to get a little hairy.
I had no idea.
Long before harvest time our backyard already looked like a scene from The Day of the Triffids, the classic British sci-fi flick where post-apocalyptic, man-eating vegetable matter threatened to devour the planet. Mowing became almost impossible because octopus-like tendrils reached into every nook and cranny of the yard. Vine vagabonds even went calling on the neighbors when they found their way through knotholes and other imperfections in our fence.
But that wasn’t the least of my worries.
Almost overnight our precious—if not precocious—crop became covered in a white fungus that I soon came to know as something called powdery mildew. The interwebs told me that the only solution was to amputate with gusto. Any and all hint of the offending disease had to be removed. Rapunzel’s tresses needed a serious trim.
A post-op appraisal of my surgical handiwork revealed that only two softball-sized pumpkins remained, and now it was our duty to baby those things along so that each grandson would have their own personal share of the bounty.
The grandkids have a season pass to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and go totally gaga exploring every square inch of that sprawling wonderland. It’s not like they are in danger of suffering from any kind of pumpkin deficit disorder. The problems of two little pumpkins don’t amount to a hill of beans in Easton and Barrett’s gourd-crazed world, so why couldn’t that powdery mildew have gone two vines more and just put me out of my misery?
It was then that Julie reminded me of The Plan. The plantings were nothing but a vehicle to set up a pumpkin decorating party. None of those store-bought pretenders in our home. It was to be the most Rockwellian of scenes—the four of us laboring to schlep gargantuan, potentially record-breaking behemoths into the house as an array of googly-eyed craft supplies stood at the ready. We were to create the most breathtaking…
Check that. Instead, we ended up with a pair of rather anemic, lopsided nuggets no larger than an average cantaloupe.
But Julie was right. Our little pumpkin-decorating party was a blast and the results were perfect, in a Charlie Brown Christmas tree kind of way. The simple had triumphed over the sophisticated.
And that is why, despite all reason, we are dedicated once again to executing The Plan. Pumpkinpalooza awaits.