Saturday, May 16, 2009

pumpkins are hens

I learned something about pumpkins today. I learned something about pumpkins and all the other big squashes that tuck seeds up in their bellies.

Jack gave me some pie pumpkins for my birthday. He probably thought I'd make pumpkin pie out of them. Instead, I set the pumpkins out in the garden to rot. I knew what I was doing, but I didn't understand it.

Pumpkins are hens. "Mother nature is frugal with her templates," a college professor told me. Mother nature is frugal with her templates. This is how pumpkins are hens.

As humans, we totally misunderstand the pumpkin. We willfully misunderstand its mission in life because we have our own designs on it. Pumpkins exist for the service of our scary faces and our pies. Such is what we believe, but such is not the truth.

This is what the womb of the pumpkin looks like in spring. Pumpkins, like everything else, have a gestation period. In this picture, I lifted the pumpkin womb to show you what I mean. Notice all the seedlings. Seedlings are babies like any other babies. But this is not where the pumpkin's genius ends.

We live in a temperate climate and pumpkin seedlings cannot withstand the weather until the nighttime temperature reaches a certain warmth. Most gardeners deal with this by starting their seedlings indoors. They don't set them out in their gardens until the danger of a final cold snap is gone. But this is not necessary. The pumpkin takes care of that by design.

The design of the pumpkin is to survive. The shape of the pumpkin and the shape of its seed cavity tell us what the pumpkin is actually intended to do. Take another look at the top photograph. Those two seedlings were quick to emerge. They are the eager of the litter. They might make it but they might not. On cold nights, the mama pumpkin keeps the seedlings warm by sitting on them, and by rotting it feeds them.

The pumpkin is a hen. The pumpkin is a hat on its children.

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