LESLIE CRISS: Pumpkin patch memory a good way to welcome fall

LESLIE CRISS

LESLIE CRISS

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”– Henry David Thoreau

“Autumn … the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant

When folks pass my desk at the Journal, a few will stop and ask me when I’m going to put my Christmas stuff away.

I tell them snowmen are not relegated exclusively to Christmas. Then I smile sweetly.

No one ever mentions the pumpkin that also remains on my desk year round.

It was left on my desk years ago by my co-worker and friend, Ginna Parsons, because she knows how I feel about the orange orbs.

Pumpkins – the fruit that foreshadows fall.

• • •

The jury has assembled for the 2013 New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts. It will be interesting to find out if this year’s can beat the best – the 2012 weigh-off was the most exciting to date. The world’s first one-ton pumpkin, grown by New Englander Ron Wallace, weighed in at a whopping 2,009 pounds.

• • •

Every year about this time, I’m reminded of the day I discovered the Great Pumpkin Patch of Yalobusha County.

It was a fall Friday. Sunny, but not too warm.

I’d just finished a week of classes at Ole Miss and was heading to Grenada for the weekend.

Highway 7 – a two-lane stretch I could drive with my eyes closed – especially between Coffeeville and Grenada.

On this particular Friday, I almost did drive with my eyes closed. Late-night studying and the monotony of the drive were lulling me to sleep. Right behind the wheel.

I opened my windows and turned up the radio, but I was still sleepy. Then I topped a hill and saw red. Well, not exactly. It was a lighter shade of red.

Orange. Acre after acre of eye-popping orange. Pumpkins. As far as the eye could see.

I’d seen pumpkins before. In stores. On roadside wagons. Glowing from people’s porches.

But never this many at one time, still on the vine. In all sizes.

I suddenly felt better. And the pumpkins were the reason.

I wish Linus Van Pelt had been with me that day. You remember Linus – the blanket-dependent brother of Lucy, friend of Charlie Brown – who waited alone in a field one Halloween for the arrival of The Great Pumpkin.

The Great Pumpkin never showed. And Linus was disappointed. But he kept the faith – to the bitter end.

So during this brand new season, I am beginning to feel a bit of relief from summer’s tenacious grip – and a renewed feeling of hope that there’s some good to be found in most situations.

The crispness in the air makes me believe the patient persistence of all Linuses everywhere will one day pay off – and The Great Pumpkin will arrive.

If we only keep the faith.

leslie.criss@journalinc.com