Up out of the pungent darkness they come, reaching upward with tenuous fingers, slight wispy green fingerlings cracking the dried, caked surface of the soil. Then come the paired leaves, green striped ovals, oriental dancers’ hands opened above their heads. The mounds in the fields pop with nose-gays, green polka dots on brown. In the darkness beneath the surface, white root strings of strength reach down, down into the moistness, pulling the mysterious gifts of the soil up till they burst into a volcanic explosion of green vine lava trailing and falling and spilling down the hills and over the countryside. The pumpkins are coming.
What started as a simple June melody develops into a July symphony with crescendoing variations on a theme. The corp de ballet jumps, and whirls and fills the stage with new members of cascading green. It takes much drama to reach the finale. The orange fruit, heavy and strong skinned do not magically appear. There is no diaphanous flower covered entrance for them. The green orbs the size of a child’s fist are visible before the flower opens. This is no ethereal performance on point, high and airy. This is a folk dance with stomping and clapping and fierce contact with the earth.
It takes the hot, steamy sunshine; the thunderstorms with rain whipping in sheets; the dry and cloudless days; the gentle dripping showers. It takes all of these to complete the sweetness, the firmness of that flesh.
Now in autumn with its frosty nights, the vines are blackened and the pumpkins are very orange. They float in the nearby field like spilled cargo on a rolling ocean. They are gathered into mounds to be clambered over and posed with. Their size will be exclaimed over, their color enjoyed. This fruit that is packed with summer becomes the talisman of fall. Their Jack-O-Lantern grins cast eerie shadows on fallen leaves. The plump flesh steamed, creamed, egged and spiced will fill bleak November kitchens with warmth and comfort.
In that first tentative reaching is the promise of fulfillment.