Milk Fed Pumpkin

Friday, August 25, 2006

In the beginning was the Word...

Last summer when we were all in Germany and ran out of English books for Big Sister to read, she received a gift of the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series from our friend and landlady Claudia (whose daughter had been an exchange student in the US many years ago, and had, in turn, received the boxed set from her host family...). Those of you familiar with this series may recall that as a child Laura's husband Almanzo (aka Manley) won first prize at the county fair by growing a "milk-fed pumpkin."

Something about this captivated her six-year old imagination: Big Sister became obsessed with the idea of growing a milk-fed pumpkin. So: last year, at Halloween, she collected seeds from the (purchased) jack-o-lantern pumpkin, put them in an envelope, labeled them, and tucked them away. Over the winter, the entire Little House series was re-read, and plans for the pumpkin were dreamed and, in that six-going-on-seven-way, incessantly chattered about. There was no getting out of this one: we were growing a milk-fed pumpkin this year, come hell or high water.

June 2006, we planted pumpkin seeds in little jiffy pots. They sprouted and grew. Late June, we planted 4 pumpkin plants in our spare expanse of mulch. The plants took off. Leaves the size of elephant ears. Flowers galore! fruit. Those of us who had been around the block longer than 7 years began to suspect that we had planted hybrid--that is, sterile--seeds. We explained this to Big Sister, and she gamely accepted the disappointment of having to wait another year to fulfill her dream. But hope springs eternal in this young girl's breast, and despite my insistence that no pumpkins would be forthcoming this year, she continued to check her patch.

And suddenly, at the end of August, a minor miracle...


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