There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

the pumpkin tree

THE PUMPKIN PATCH is  firmly rooted in Autumn lore — even iconic. It has woven its way into the social fabric of Thanksgiving and Halloween. The pumpkin has long been a symbol of our connection to the earth and a paean to our agrarian history. I'm only one generation away from my uncle who was a cotton farmer in Alabama. And my own father had a large garden with a neighbor every year in our community.
We're missing something in losing that connection in our busy lives where everything can be ordered online, except maybe . . . pumpkins . . . hmm. 

AN INTRIGUING BOOK I've just found online (but haven't ordered and read yet), is simply titled Pumpkin with the subtitle A Curious History of an American Icon. The book sounds entirely worth a read, and dovetails nicely with what I've always tried to achieve with this blog — bringing resonance back to the symbols of, and surrounding the decorated tree and the connections to nature. Pumpkin is written by Cindy Ott, an assistant professor of American Studies at Saint Louis University. The description reads, in part: Beginning with the myth of the first Thanksgiving, she [Ott] shows how Americans have used the pumpkin to fulfull their desire to maintain connections to nature and to the family farm of lore, and, ironically, how small farms and rural communities have been revitalized in the process. And while the pumpkin has inspired American myths and traditions, the pumpkin itself has changed because of the ways people have perceived, valued, and used it. "This major contribution to American agricultural and sociocultural history" can be ordered online here.

THE MOOD OF AUTUMN: Photographer Art Meripol, my old coworker and friend from my days at Southern Living magazine and Cooking Light magazine took this photograph. Art says he photographed this little girl in a pumpkin patch near a small town in central Missouri. The atmospheric mystery of the photograph is palpable. With the wind blowing her hair across her face and the cloudy blue autumn sky meeting the earthy tumble of the pumpkin patch is, to me, the quintessential image of autumn. Please visit Art's site here to find even more breathtaking imagery.
'TIS THE SEASON: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels are a different take on each autumn's tedious pumpkin spice season—topped with a sprinkling of Hawaiian red sea salt.
SEARCHING THE PATCH for the perfect pumpkins is quite a fun endeavor each autumn season, even if it's only at your local supermarket. It's even more challenging when you have in mind to make a "tree" from a graduated sizes of these gourds. Then one has to decide on color and form and how well they all stack up.

TRICK OR TREAT: Skull-stamped treat bags are filled with either tricks or treats, so upon opening, you determine what you have. Treat bags are available at Michaels.
TIERED TREATS: Trader Joes has no shortage of Halloween Treats. These Belgian Chocolate Pumpkins and Chocolate Mousse Pumpkins are both quite delicious.
IT'S A GREAT DIVERSION from the politics at hand this season. It's either "trick or treat" in this election. Our choice is more polarized than ever before. So it goes with the Halloween dessert tableau seen in the photo at the top of this post. The treat (or trick?) bags enclosed under lock and key are purposely mysterious. Yours is a grab bag of one or the other. These sinister skull-imprinted bags could hold an October surprise. Either way, there are enough treats to keep us at the scene of the crime.

GOURDS GALORE: Quite a mix. You can find elegant gourds everywhere this time of year, but look at specialty shops and florists and farmer markets. I found the long-stemmed beauties at French Market Flowers at Krog Street Market in Atlanta.
PUMPKINS are a form of squash, and both are part of the gourd family. There are endless varieties, colors and forms. What I set out to achieve in this post is using the natural gourds without coaxing them by carving or painting — becoming something else entirely. That can be a fun thing to do, but my mission this time was to keep things pure and simple.
BEAUTIFUL VARIETY: It's all about diversity.

PURE AND SIMPLE isn't meant to be without variety though. It takes all shapes, sizes and colors to make an interesting and beautiful mix. You might even say that also applies to people. We are all part of the same familythe human familyand we need to start acting like it to survive along with the natural world. It's all we've got when you get down to basics.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland,
Pumpkin patch photo courtesy Art Meripol photography.