Time Machines and Drooping Pumpkins

“….and I want to know where children would go if they never learned to be cool. Cause nothings achieved when pushed up a sleeve so nobody thinks you’re a fool.” – Missy Higgins, “Going North”


There is glory in the goop. The sweet presence of youth that seeps around your fingers and creeps into your smile while you’re up to your elbows in jack-o-lantern. How do so many forget such a simple pleasure? Become too busy to schedule time for the annual carving? It is one of fall’s most fabulous rituals and yet somewhere along the way most of us grew up too good for the goop. I don’t think it was ever intentional. Probably not a conscious decision at all, just a slipping of time and with it tradition and bigger milestones to reach.

But when you hand a bunch of twenty-somethings a beer and a knife and the invitation to remember, it’s just awesome what happens next. The evening dissolves into rocking chairs and moonlit porches, intense concentration and seeds on the floor. There’s pumpkin in my hair and up my nose before the night is over. It’s all stories of stencils and right ways and wrong. Family tradition, artistic endeavor, and suddenly we’re all grateful for yesterday’s youth.

No, nothing quite compares to the time machine of a big orange squash – or a pimply one, a white one, a green and veiny and lop-sided one – and it’s ability to make kids out of not-quite adults. Maybe rubber boots and swollen puddles have a similar effect, but the guts of a gourd make for a sweet trip in time. The proof is still sitting on our porch, albeit a bit droopy after weeks in the cold and the rain. The mouth of one jack-o-lantern has crept over the edge of the stoop like it’s snacking on cement. The orange crust of another has taken on a spotted yellow hew. It’s time to retire them to the compost pile, to that organic heap of fertility, but I like their smiles, and there droopy eyes, and I don’t mind the color of the mold, and I really like the memory of the time machine.