98: Pumpkin Magic

98: Pumpkin Magic

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great

Pumpkin Magic

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

~Charles R. Swindoll,
The Strong Family

The heat is just beginning to rise, steaming the earth lightly under my feet. It smells of fresh-turned dirt and young corn, heavy ripe blackberries and climbing beans, sunflowers and peonies and pine trees.

The scent clears the sleep from my head, and I breathe in deeply, drinking it down to the bottom of my lungs. I scuff my toes in the soft grass on the edge of the garden.

Grandpa is strolling through the rows of young growing plants, pulling a weed here, plucking a bean there, testing and touching and studying. I love it here, out in the huge growing field that seems to stretch for miles beyond the acre lot. I watch as Grandpa paces his domain.

“Come here, Sweetheart. I have a surprise for you.” I hurry after him, stumbling a little in my attempt to keep up with his long-legged stride. He’s headed to the far left edge of the garden, past the rows of corn and tomatoes and cabbage, past the beans and peas and cucumber. He stops at the last row, pausing in front of several low, flat-leaved viney plants. I stand back as he lifts the broad leaves aside, searching for his surprise. Then he nods and beckons me forward.

It is a small, still-growing pumpkin, slightly green, not fully ripe. Its stem is still attached to the vine, and it lies on the ground at an angle. I can see a scar on the far side, and I’m slightly disappointed, sad for Grandpa that his surprise is damaged.

Then he turns the pumpkin over, brushing the dirt away, and I can see that it’s not a scar at all; it’s my name, growing there along with the pumpkin! MY NAME, borne on this fresh and growing plant, living there in the dirt and sun and wind. I stare at it, run tiny fingers along the edge of the letters. They are rough and solid. When Halloween comes, this pumpkin will be mine and no one else’s. I turn wide eyes to Grandpa, standing in the field with the sun behind him. “How did you do that?” I asked.

“Well, it’s a long process,” he begins. “First, you take a pumpkin seed and a very small knife....”

His eyes sparkle as he discusses magnifying glasses and special planting techniques. I turn and look at the house. Grandma is standing in the doorway waving. “How about breakfast?” Grandpa asks. “I’ll make oatmeal with raisins cooked in.”

We begin the long walk back to the house. I think about the fresh peas with dinner and the just-picked blackberries over vanilla ice cream, the ripe plums in the bowl on the counter and the corn that won’t be ready until the next visit. And I think about my very own pumpkin and my grandpa who can work magic in his special garden. I place my hand in his and walk up the hill to breakfast.

~Kati Dougherty-Carthum
Chicken Soup for the Grandparent’s Soul

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