What I’ve learned about my quest for perfection from our pumpkin….
Until this season, we had not had a garden in the four years since moving to the suburbs. Dawn couldn’t bring herself to part with even a small part of her fluffy, green, weed-free yard. But this year, I really wanted Levi to get involved in gardening. I knew he would love it. And as he grows, I really want him to have an understanding of where (real) food comes from. We settled on getting a VegTrug garden table for my birthday. We put it together as a family. The sides didn’t sit perfectly square and that bothered me immensely. We jostled and shook and put our weight on the thing and forced it into the perfect v-shape. Levi supervised and tried to climb it, of course.
It looked great on our patio. We filled it with with lettuce, basil, broccoli, green pepper, tomato plants, and kale. As predicted, Levi was in awe — especially with the broccoli. He would study the plants, sticking his head far into the leaves in search of the little head that had started. He would point and touch and then ask to move to the next plant for the same examination process.
The excitement of growth, led us to want to grow more, so we took the corner of one of our landscaped perennial gardens and planted pumpkin and cucumber seeds. Most of the seeds were dug up and stolen by our large squirrel population (Levi’s friends), but we did end up with one large sprawling tangle of vines and a single pumpkin. We (especially Levi) watched every new sprout on the vine carefully, hoping it would turn into a little pumpkin zygote. We had a few but, sadly, none survived. We discussed the possibility of inseminating by hand (Dawn’s idea) but never ended up doing it.
Eventually we cut away all the vines but the one with our single pumpkin (whose growth Levi tracked on a daily basis, making a little ball shape with his hands and then widening them to show the pumpkin getting bigger). It grew, and it was green. Really green. Almost black. It grew under the pine tree in our yard, so we believed it simply wasn’t getting enough sun. The plan was to let it grow for a bit and then cut it when it reached Halloween-ready size and let it ripen on the sunny patio.
Imagine our surprise the day we cut it and our very green pumpkin looked like this underneath!
A perfectly green pumpkin with a patch of orange on the side that was facing the dark, damp ground! Or, the way I saw it, an imperfect, orange pumpkin that remained mostly green and just looked weird! We could not put this out on display. But Dawn was proud of the pumpkin and put it right out front for all the neighborhood to see. She posted pictures of it on Facebook. And you know what some of the comments on Facebook said? “It’s perfect.” “Unique.” “I, for one, love your two-tone pumpkin.” “Cool.” “Love your pumpkin. It’s different. Yay.” And there is really no denying any of those comments, except for maybe the first one.
And so as I continue down my refusing-to-give-up path to perfection, I revise, along the way, what that perfection looks like (a tiny bit, at least. It’s hard.) in order to make room for things like a green and orange pumpkin. After all, mother nature is ultimately in charge here. Just one more arena where I am not in control. (Did I mention, it’s hard?)