Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Season

The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter and it is pumpkin carving season.

David and Staci went with their kids and Grandma and Poppa to the pumpkin patch to pick out their Halloween pumpkins. Looks like they had a fine time selecting just the right ones.

And Zach has his Jack-o-lanterns all ready for Halloween. His mom says that he designed the big scary one and the two smaller scared ones himself.

I remember that my Dad always devoted one corner of his garden on the farm for growing pumpkins. We would keep an eye on them over the summer to see if any of them would grow big enough for Jack-o-lanterns. As Halloween approached, Libby and I would stake our claims on the biggest pumpkins for carving. The smaller ones were brought in from the garden, cooked and canned for pumpkin pies, pumpkin bars, and all the other delicious things made from pumpkin. It always seemed to me that the home grown and home canned pumpkin produced pies that tasted better than when using store bought canned pumpkin.

When I had children of my own, I followed Dad's practice of growing a patch of pumpkins in my garden. Over the winter, I would go through the seed catalogs and order seeds that promised to produce huge pumpkins. They never quite lived up to the expectations, but we had some pretty respectable sized Jack-o-lanterns at Halloween time. I so enjoyed carving pumpkins with my kids, seeing the scary faces their imaginations came up with. When the Jack-o-lanterns all had candles in them, and their scary faces glowed in the night, it was time to roast the pumpkin seeds. A friend of mine had given me the recipe, which is nothing more than tossing the seeds in melted butter, placing them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkling them with salt, and roasting them in a slow oven for an hour. A couple of times we experimented with using seasoned salt or garlic salt, but we seemed to like the seeds with plain salt the best.

Some say that fall is a depressing time of year because it means that lazy days at the lake, family picnics, boat rides and all of the other summertime activities are over. I just don't see it that way. Although this year I could have used a little less rain and a little more sunshine. When my family lived in the northern part of the state, we would often in the fall of the year pile into the car to go for a ride and look at the beautiful fall colors. A favorite drive of mine was the Turtle River Lake road. Sections of that road wound through forests of bright orange and red trees, while other parts showed us yellow and gold leaves. I never seem to get enough of the beauty of nature.

Fall was also a time to rake the fallen leaves from the yard. Rather than bagging them up in huge plastic leaf bags, we raked them into piles on the driveway and burned them. I still miss the smell of leaf smoke in the air. Last year David's kids helped him rake leaves, and it was good to see that kids still enjoy jumping into a pile of leaves, as I did as a child.

I love this time of year.

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