With Pumpkin Knowledge, Every Little Bit Helps

I heard recently on a cooking show that a pumpkin is actually a fruit in the melon family. I’m not sure where that leaves squashes. I always thought the pumpkin was in that group. And why is this important? Because winter is coming and this is the kind of critical information you need to play trivia games. I have a head full of useless information that only comes in handy when I play Trivial Pursuit.

I always say that nothing learned is wasted, but I’m not sure if winning trivia games was the brilliant use I had in mind for these tidbits of intel.  I had a professor named Lang. He was raised in Minnesota by his German immigrant parents. His father had been in the Navy and insisted that his sons learn how to navigate by the stars. Prof. Lang resisted— Minnesota being landlocked, what use could this information be?  Fast forward ten years, it’s WWII. He’s in one of many life rafts in the Pacific from a sunken submarine, the ship’s captain and navigator dead. Nearly 30 young men scared to death. Nobody knew where the hell they were until Lang laid his head back in exhaustion, and looking up at the night sky, he realized, he knew exactly where the hell they were.  They successfully paddled to intercept American ships and were saved.  That story is what etched into my mind that no knowledge is wasted. However, nothing I’ve learned has saved anyone.  But I guess someone has to remember that Barbara Stanwyck usually wore her own jewelry in her movies…

On the Island, there seems to be a stunning amount of bits of intel around the craft and artistry of carving pumpkins. My friend Beverlea Walz has amazed the Island for years with her creativity. One year, somehow, making her whole house look like THE Giant Pumpkin with the whole cast of Peanuts characters. I took pictures of her carved pumpkins. I’d never seen anything like them. How many tidbits of info had to collide in her brain to do that? What kind of knife, how to hold it, how to carve half depths to create shadows?

There’s one house that fills its porch and steps with pumpkins that I can’t really say are carved, more like laser- etched—and the detail is amazing.  Each one is a work of art with curved lines and scenes as precise as a photograph. How did they learn how to do this? Pumpkins are lumpy and I always cut my hand with the knife. There’s people here who know how to keep the pumpkins from rotting. One year, I saw a blue/purple pumpkin. I couldn’t stand it. I had to pull over and ask, how on earth was this done? Simple, she added blue food coloring to the water for that one pumpkin plant from its seedling stage and voila! A nonconformist pumpkin. I stored that bit of trivia for the future. If I’m ever asked if pumpkins come in colors other than orange, I am set!

So remember, no knowledge is wasted. You may find yourself in a raft one day with no companion other than a pumpkin, but if you carve it right, and name it Wilson, you could get a movie-of-the-week deal.

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