October 18, 2019: My Favorite Pumpkin of All Time

After everybody on the East Coast yelled “Weeeeeeeekend!” in unison this afternoon, we careened out to the farms and farmstands of nearby Hollis, New Hampshire, passing patches of ghost pumpkins and gold and red foliage on fire in the intense last rays of the day. All the farms seemed to be vibrating for the weekend themselves. The empty rows of corn were shifting around, practicing to confuse and lose those cocky souls who entered their maze. Hay had piled itself into monsters and animals with gourds for eyes and nose and teeth, posing for the annual photo opps with families. The apples had sorted themselves into bins or doused themselves in caramel or squeezed themselves into juice, thriving in the one season where those red and green spheres aren’t boring.

It was time to choose our pumpkins.

We stopped at one particular farm but were met with a horror of pumpkins all stacked along the tops of bales of hay. They were all disturbingly, identically beautiful. Like the sanitized models on Marth Stewart magazine covers. Had I found any one of them in a patch by itself, I would have grabbed it and stiff-armed pumpkin-pickers left and right to get it to the scale and then into my car. But arranged all together like a clone army, like they’d been manufactured on a conveyor belt, it got me worried.

I’ve always thought that agricultural scientists and farmers were working feverishly toward Maximum Pumpkin. That they know the perfect shape, the perfect color, the perfect ridge depth, the perfect length of stem that most people wanted, and that they were breeding the character out of pumpkins.

Which would be a travesty.

Aghast, we jumped back into the car and drove to the next farm, hoping to Samhain that we weren’t seeing the beginnings of an outbreak. At this next farm, we found pumpkins piled in a massive mountain topped by a sign with a ghost asking people not to clamber on said Mount Pumpkin.

And these were glorious, each one a different shade—from pale yellow to almost red. Stems that were long enough to be limbs or which curled around themselves in ringlets or which were hacked close to the orange dome like a crew cut. Some had ridges so deep you could lodge a quarter in them. Others, skin so smooth they looked almost like orange apples. Some were spherical, some asymmetric, some oval, some flattened, and I swear I saw one or two squarish pumpkins. Viva la difference.

And then, jammed into one side of Mount Pumpkin, I found my most favorite pumpkin of all time. Its long, dark whip of a stem, its deep orange color, a shape that asks desperately for triangles to be cut into it, the warts on its skin, like it was raised in a witch’s pumpkin patch. I honestly don’t think I’m up to the task of carving it.

My family each found a favorite themselves, so we piled five pumpkins into a wagon and rolled that thing up to a register, where they were dutifully weighed, and then handed to us with adoption certificates (not really, but they should do that).

From there, we hit up the grocery store…where we bought the new Cinnamon Coke and Winter Spice Cranberry Sprite. I know, I know, but Christmas sodas (any Christmas beverage, really) are an extreme weakness for me.

But I’ll have you know that we drank those Christmas sodas bathed in the orange and purple lights of our Halloween decorations, while watching the new Creepshow series, as five pumpkins got used to their new home.

Still, I’ll make up for that Halloween sin tomorrow by doubling down on pumpkin activities and going to a giant pumpkin festival.