My friend Leadville Laurel McHargue asks her readers’ for their opinions about pumpkins. “When you first see them, do you smile, or does a chill run down your spine because you know the holiday season is upon us and the end of the year is nigh?” Laurel says she’s “lost that lovin’ feeling” when it comes to pumpkins and offers reasons for it. (Read more on Laurel’s blog and site.)
For me, two words: pumpkin pie.
I have a killer recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake pie. I say “killer” because it calls for heavy cream and cream cheese. I just don’t share it with my doc since he’s already in a twitter about my cholesterol count.
The dark side of autumn is the decreasing daylight, sunshine. The warm side includes glorious colors and wood smoke and pumpkin pie smells.
In It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Linus tries to convince his friends of the truth of his belief. As he’s writing his letter to the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown challenges him. “When are you going to stop believing in something that isn’t true?”
“When you stop believing,” Linus retorts, “in a man in a red suit and white beard who goes, ‘Ho, Ho, Ho!’”
“They’re obviously separated by denominational differences,” Charlie Brown concludes. Now, that’s sound theology.
Linus figures the reason more people believe in Santa Claus is that he gets more publicity. Yet, he doesn’t waver, a lesson in undiminished faith in the face of scorn and mockery, even when his one disciple, lovelorn Sally Brown, turns on him when she realizes she spent a fruitless night in the pumpkin patch instead of trick-or-treating. I’ve never spent a teeth-chattering night in a literal pumpkin patch, but I have symbolically.
For all it’s beauty and coziness, fall is, nevertheless, the dying time in the northern hemisphere. For some, it conjures ghosts, goblins, and other macabre beliefs and superstitions associated with spirits beyond our ken.
In the Catholic tradition, All Saints day is celebrated on November 1st and All Souls Day, November 2nd. In the southwest Latino and Mexican cultures, Dias de los Muertos—days of the dead—occur from October 30th to November 1st. I had believed those days to be solemn, but research indicates they’ve become festive. I got a kick out of this marketing ploy in particular: “Enjoy the Spirit of Día de los Muertos This Fall at Disneyland Resort.” The ghost of Mickey Mouse past.
As one might expect in paganism, human experience—death—is weaved into and interconnected with events in the natural world. These days called Samhain— “sow-in”—have a broader scope.
On the thoughtco.com site, an excellent resource for life-long learners about subjects from science and tech to humanities and the arts, Patti Witington offers suggestions for celebrating the time such as building an altar with “rich, deep colors like purples, burgundies, and black, as well as harvest shades like gold and orange” to honor the season. She suggests adding a basket of apples, pumpkins, squash, or root vegetables; filling a cornucopia; and gathering up and placing straw, sheaves of wheat, corn shucks, and even sickles or other harvest tools.
To honor family ancestors and the forgotten dead, she suggests sprinkling seasonally appropriate herbs such as rosemary to remember your ancestors and hosting a “dumb dinner” in which a place is set for the absent one(s) and no one speaks.
I would include pumpkin pie as part of the meal for two reasons: Hands down, pumpkin is the pie of the season, and the smell and taste resurrect memories of Mum baking them and me, as a growing young man, scarfing them nearly as fast as she could pull them from the oven.
Far from losing the lovin’ feeling, I crave it, so much so that I just added heavy cream to my shopping list. Just don’t tell my doc.