What makes a perfect pumpkin?
It's a question asked in many a fall-themed children's book. And one that comes up anytime a kindergarten class takes a field trip to a pumpkin patch.
There was an article in the local paper today about the difficulties pumpkin-patch operators encounter trying to turn a profit. At this time of year, it's hard to imagine that the pumpkineers aren't raking it in; all you have to do, it seems, is plant a half-acre and then sit back and collect money from the school buses that will start lining up at your gate before they've even sprouted. But I guess there's quite a bit to it -- you need to press some sorghum, map out a hayride, invest in some petting-zoo animals. The article stated that if the crop is bad, as it's been the last couple of years, you have to buy pumpkins wholesale to plump out your patch. That cuts into the margin, I'm sure.
Like most parents, I have some definite pumpkin preferences. I'm not sure what the point of a small pumpkin would be, since I don't like pumpkin to eat and am unlikely to make a pie. The bigger, the better, as far as I'm concerned -- easier to carve, more impressive on the doorstep.
I didn't get to accompany Cady Gray on her pumpkin patch field trip today. What with Noel in Chicago and me with the usual work responsibilities, there was no one who could subtly push her in the direction of jack-o-lantern-sized gourds. So she came home with a perfectly Cady Gray-sized pumpkin, just about exactly the volume of her head. It's gorgeously round, pleasingly proportioned, classically sectioned. I have no idea what to do with it, but sitting on our kitchen table, it's a lovely evocation of the misty, chilly weather that's taken hold, and a signal of the rapidly fleeing year.