The Running of the Pumpkins

Here’s a story for you, just so you’ll know I’m alive. [I’m still kickin’, taking life a day at a time, doing what I can. These are, to paraphrase the Dickens line, the best of times and the worst of times. Much more good, though, than bad, when I stop and count. God’s grace is sufficient. But on to our story!]

Late Wednesday night, I take out my trash and recycling, so it can be picked up on Thursday morning. The bags and recycling bin are properly placed in the alley behind the building. Now, my downstairs neighbors — bless them! — often seem to have a great abundance of garbage, and sometimes it doesn’t end up in quite the right place. I think what happened a couple weeks ago is that some of my neighbors’ bags slipped down through the gap between the alley surface and the fence, alighting in our backyard — where, of course, the trash collectors won’t and can’t pick them up.

As I set out my trash last night, I remembered those two stray bags of my neighbors’, and I decided to carry them through the gate and up into the alley, so that they could disappear, and our backyard would be the better for it. I gripped one bag, and it came along with me fine. But the other seemed rooted to the yard! I’d never encountered such a heavy garbage bag! It wasn’t particularly big, but it was full of something that took a herculean labor to budge. I finally managed it, half-dragging the bag, hefting it inch by inch across the yard . . .

I wrangled it up the concrete steps to the alley. I bore it safely through the gate. I was just a half-step away from dropping it into place with the other garbage bags . . . when the bottom ripped out of the bag, and I discovered the source of the great weight. Three very large pumpkins went bounding away down the steep alley! Bumpity bumpity bump! I don’t mean jack-o’-lanterns; I mean solid pumpkins. They bounced and thumped and zigzagged, following the contours of brick, asphalt, and pothole. Two went more or less to the right, one to the left, and all went a good way down the block from my gate, hopping and rolling in the bright moonlight. The night was chill.

Why my neighbors threw away three good, uncarved pumpkins, I’ll never know. All I knew was that it was bedtime, I was tired, I’m just about over a severe, lingering cough, no one really lives along that stretch of the alley, and I wasn’t inclined to go rounding up pumpkins in the early stages of decomposition. I simply took note of where they came to rest, decided it wasn’t going to cause any trouble, and sent them a silent congratulations for having escaped the garbage truck. One is in front of a little brake of saplings; one rests near an abandoned garage; one is half-buried in leaves against the chain-link fence. They’re nicely spaced along the alley: Advent decorations. Pukel-men. Moai. Disciples of the Great Pumpkin. Call them what you will, they are there. And pumpkins are organic, so they won’t be there forever. For a season, they adorn.

Speaking of pumpkins, which leads us to Dragonfly, I believe this can now be officially announced: the dear old book is very soon to become an audio book from Audible! I don’t know the precise form it will take, and I don’t know who will be reading it. I’m most eager to find out! But help me keep watch for it. It should be forthcoming quite soon; it’s contracted and I’ve been paid, so . . .

Sending warmth to all as the days grow colder and darker. Talk to you soon! Let us persevere!


25 Responses to The Running of the Pumpkins

  1. jhagman says:

    My girlfriend grows pumpkins every year, the largest this year was a big max that grew to 55lbs. She hoards (she is like a hobbit with mushrooms) and carves them, and keeps some uncarved for the front of our house, in the desert air out here they last until summer. What is everyone reading these days? I just finished Joe Queenan’s “One For The Books”, it was excellent, now I am reading “My Bookstore; Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop”, ed. by Ronald Rice, parts of that book has brought tears to my eyes. Sorry about your messy neighbors- we had a messy neighbor, he was taken away for various kinds of distribution, as the cop car went by, on his loudspeaker the cop said “The pharmacy is closed”!

  2. Morwenna says:

    Bowling with pumpkins!

    Jhagman, I recently read a good review of My Bookstore. I love and support independent bookstores. That said, I also loved Borders — it’s truly missed.

    I’m reading one of Andrew Lang’s classic collections of folk and fairy tales: The Lilac Fairy Book.

  3. Scott says:

    Leave them to seed for next year. If no one weeds them out next year, you will have your own pumpkin patch in your alley.

  4. jhagman says:

    Morwenna, I remember when Dover published a box set of the Lang Fairy Books-in many colors. It was a lovely collection, I passed mine on to a person who is an ASM (assistant store manager) for B&N Thousand Oaks. Borders Stores could be very amazing. When I was first getting into Mojave Desert Natural History, one of my guides recommended 28 books. Our Borders Store (#118) had every single one. Amazing. Every bookstore that is loved and well managed, is very special regardless of pedigree. and every bookstore whether a chain store or not is at risk. The Paradigm Shift monster is here, and it is eating bookstores-and it is very hungry. So, when I see a bookstore, I feel sad and happy at the same time, it is sort of like looking at a beautiful, endangered species, but I am grateful that I saw the best of book-times in my life.

    • Morwenna says:

      Jhagman, I received Dover editions of The Lilac Fairy Book and The Green Fairy Book as gifts. I’ve always loved Dover Publications. You’re right, their Lang reprints are wonderful.

      Sad to say, these books were purchased at a neighborhood bookstore that’s now just a memory.

      At Christmas once upon a time, I went to Borders to buy a copy of The Tempest for a friend. Borders carried so many choices. I bought a book published in arrangement with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It had fascinating historical information about the play in performance. Speaking of magic . . .

      Fred, when large pumpkins escape and roll down streets, it’s a sure sign they’re ready to be transformed into carriages.

  5. fsdthreshold says:

    Great to hear some voices here! Thanks, everyone! Jhagman, what’s the secret to getting a job at a bookstore? I had what felt like a great interview at Half-Price Books, but they filled the position with someone else. Now my applications/resumes are out at the two B&N stores nearest me. I’m hoping things will go better now that I’m actually working. Employers seem to shy away from unemployed people, which doesn’t make sense to me, but the world seldom does.

  6. fsdthreshold says:

    Yes, Dover! I used to order Dover editions in the days before Amazon, before e-mail . . . My Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood is a Dover edition! So is my E. F. Bleiler’s Three Gothic Novels.

  7. jhagman says:

    Fred, the secret is persistence and luck. One of my bosses put in 8 applications before she was hired (and that was before the economic crunch). A popular bookstore will get easily over a hundred apps in a month, an astronaut or a `retired MD will get lost in that shuffle. In the interviews I never mentioned money, because bookstores never have any. I hope you do find a job in a bookstore. I have worked for 3 bookstore companies, in 9 different stores- all of them taught me so much about life, and that is what books are about for me; Life. I think you bring alot with you to any bookstore job, you are a very good published author after all. If you are persistent, you will find a job.

    • fsdthreshold says:

      Thanks, jhagman! Your perspective on this is really valuable. Wow — a hundred applications a month . . . It’s like trying to get published!

  8. Jedibabe says:

    An audio version of Dragonfly, that’s so awesome! Congratulations. I love that those pumpkins were so determined to escape and perpetuate themselves, good for them. Good luck with the job hunt, I’m beginning to think about that search myself and it’s no fun.

    • fsdthreshold says:

      Thanks, Jedibabe! I’m looking forward to the Dragonfly recording, too — can’t wait to hear it! Yeah, pumpkins . . . they must have a life of their own, and that’s what makes jack-o’-lanterns so effective . . .

      Best wishes on your job search, too. You’re on the other side of the Great Wall from me — you have the education our country requires now — but I’m sure it’s still not easy. Many prayers!

  9. Jedibabe says:

    Oh, I’m not done yet. I still have research to do and a dissertation to write, but the job hunt is a slow process and I figure I’d better get started. I hope to graduate by the end of next summer, God willing. (Actually, I think it’s more up to my ability to get it done than God’s willingness, in this case! He’s been quite supportive throughout the whole process 😉

  10. Buurenaar says:

    If they don’t do it well, can we send them pics of the creepy stare rage-face? I tease, of course…mostly. Oh, I don’t think I’ve recommended this series before, but I had a hankering to read it (to procrastinate a bit before studying for my second exam of the day and doing preparation for my linguistics exam in the morning): Here There Be Dragons.

    James Owen wrote and illustrated it. There’s a good bit of linguistic nerdity and historical tomfoolery involved–mostly in regards to canon history.

    • Buurenaar says:

      Oh! Daylily, how’s your recovery going? Up from 95% to 100% yet? I hope everyone’s doing well, especially you, Fred. We want you healthy and well-rested so we can devour your next work…

      • Daylily says:

        Thanks for asking, Buurenaar! It looks as if it will take time, patience, and months of daily hand exercises to get complete flexibility back. But considering how far I’ve come since the accident (August 11) and also what could have happened in this accident, I feel blessed!

      • fsdthreshold says:

        Thanks, Buurenaar! I’m healthy, by grace. Doing my best here — hope to manage to write more on the blog soon, but life isn’t allowing much leeway right now. Would appreciate prayers for my job search and that the winter isn’t too cruel. Everyone, blessings of Advent to you! As the hymn goes: “Long is our winter, dark is our night: O, come, set us free, Thou saving Light.” The Savior is on the way!

  11. Hagiograph says:

    Fred, why are you looking for work in a book shop? I thought life was good in the recycling center. What’s the dilly oh?

  12. Hagiograph says:

    Running of the Pumpkins is quite fitting for this post. Our Christmas card this year featured a photo I took back in November of the Encierro Monument in Pamplona Spain.

    After a print job I had a day to bum around Pamplona and one morning while meandering around town I walked past the monument to the “Running of the Bulls” (The “Encierro” in Spanish) and noted that some fine person had placed a beer can in one guy’s hand. It was a guy who was laying prostrate about to be run over by a bull. The look on his face is one of terror while a huge metal bull bears down on him. And in the guy’s other outstretched hand laying on the cobble stones of the street is….a beer can someone put there. It was perfect!

    The picture is here:

  13. ninjaprincess says:

    What can you do with a pumpkin other than make jam or pie? I have one sitting around and have NO IDEA what to do with it……….

    • jhagman says:

      It depends on what kind of pumpkin it is, if it a jack-o-lantern variety, it is an ornamental. Out here in California we leave some on our porch as part of a fall-winter display. They (the pumpkins) keep for months, depending on your climate. It is cool and dry where I live, so our display will be up till the Summer.I like pumpkins because Halloween is my favorite holiday, and they remind me it is on it’s way.

  14. ninjaprincess says:

    Well, it’s not a jack-o-lantern, and I live up north, though my pumpkin is kept inside so I don’t know why that would matter…. but any ideas?

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