Wish and hope and dream. Some days they are very much the same prayer, inseparable from one another and yet a whole world of possibilities within them. Some days they fill me until there is too much and they spill over with goodness. Some days they are buried in dark murky places and I cannot find them no matter how hard I try. Still…my dreams are always there…waiting for me.
Beneath a cold clear sky I send my wishes to the stars before the day begins. Star light, star bright…
Why do we wish upon a star, so far away…so up high…so out of reach. Why don’t we wish on something closer to home…like pumpkin seeds.
Cut open a pumpkin and reach inside. Feel all those seeds in the slime, held tight to the pumpkin and to each other by strong sinewy strings. It’s a mess in there! Dozens of ecru teardrops wait in the darkness like stars in the sky. Only they are touchable…and they become wondrous real things.
Pumpkin seeds do not have an outward brilliance that catches my eye. As I hold one between my fingers it feels slippery and sticky and yet, full of promise. Every pumpkin seed is a treasure chest locked tight with unseen gold.
How strange that our wishes reach to the heavens, to places we cannot go and cannot touch. Why don’t our wishes dig deeply instead. Why don’t our wishes begin in the earth and reach towards the sprawling beauty of becoming real.
I cannot touch a star or hold it in my hand the way I can a pumpkin seed. The seed is immediate and urgent as I grip it between my fingers and with my open heart it has already become an entire field of fruit, sprawling vines, delicate sunny flowers, and pumpkins one after another as far as my eye can imagine.
No man made plastic pumpkin will ever give way to such luscious possibilities.
In late September I drove to a local market for pumpkins. Fifteen pumpkins! They were a variety of crazy large shapes. No smalls. No mediums. All Larges! A couple of them were so big I could hardly manage them on my own. Would they topple on the way to the car! I had visions of them rolling all over the parking lot and me being rather helpless to stop them.
Then came the dilemma of arranging them in the car. More than one person looked at me with a smile that suggested… better you than me.
Pumpkins are deceptively dusty. Although their bold orange hides it, they carry a layer of soil leftover from their field days. And, they do enjoy sharing it with you. Nevertheless, the pumpkins were glorious and I was happy with my choices and their overflowing nature, rather like having a car full of balloons. It’s just a naturally happy moment.
So it was that fifteen real pumpkins came to reside with me.
Two collapsed before the end of October. One was given over to be carved for Halloween. A couple deflated after the first freeze. A few more were looking grim at the end of November. I lost another and another as December turned to Christmas turned to New Years.
As I head out to walk there are still some spicy orange orbs amongst the fallen brown leaves of winter. Signs of decay are easy enough to spot when you look closely. One by one they will each fall away.
Of course they don’t really go. Instead they transform as surely as the butterfly…from pumpkin to seed to green leafy shoot to yellow flower and finally, back to pumpkin again. They never stop giving.
In years past I have decorated with plastic pumpkins, the cute ones with handles and clever faces. In fact, I still have some of them tucked away in the attic. They last longer, people say. One can use them year after year, people say. You get your money’s worth, people say. Yes, I guess that’s all true enough…
Plastic pumpkins need to be stored and cleaned. Climb into the sweltering attic to bring them down. Put a heavy rock in them so they won’t blow away or be carried off and chewed to bits by a canine companion. Imagine the mess made by lovable canine companion. Weeks later clean them of all the muck they collected in the great outdoors. Trudge back into the attic to put them away. Next year, repeat. Ugh.
With time and weather plastic becomes brittle and its colors fade. It loses its vibrancy. You pull it down from the attic one year and think – hmm, it doesn’t look much like a pumpkin anymore. It toughens to the breaking point. Then sharp edges jut forth, jagged and hurtful to all that dare to come close. In age and time plastic pumpkins harden to the world around them.
Real pumpkins grown by a real farmer in a real field brighten my life and bring me real joy! In age and time they soften to the world around them. Even as they decompose, they freshen. Real pumpkins give way to more life, not less. In the days and months to come they will spring forth again and again in enchanting new ways.
My colorful pumpkins and what’s real and what’s not sends my thoughts back to the childhood tale of The Velveteen Rabbit. To become real one must love and be loved and that is a profoundly messy but beautiful thing.
As time flies before you, are you real or are you plastic…
I love to wish upon the stars in the charcoal sky. I won’t stop anytime soon. I love sending my dreams soaring into the heavens to light up the night.
But the pumpkin with its seeds has something to teach me about wishing too. Even as I write this I wonder if it’s silly to wish on pumpkin seeds. People will laugh at me. Stars are so glamorous. Pumpkin seeds are so…not glamorous.
But I do wish…
I wish for bright pumpkin filled days of joy! I wish to soften with time. I wish for a quiet embrace to protect the promise within. I wish to blossom in love. I wish to be real…
May your wishes flower into a beautiful field of dreams.
Fifteen Real Pumpkins written and photographed by ellie894 February 2, 2018