As we walked to a pumpkin patch in Tehachapi, California, five gray doves fluttered away toward some mist approaching (or perhaps ghosts) from the west. This patch was not an artful arrangement of careful globes on hay bales. Rather, it was a tangle of daggered vines, lobed and twisted leaves, and contorted pumpkins set into muddy hollows.
As we began looking for the perfect pumpkin while stepping around spiky vines, we realized that just like fall leaves, pumpkins change from green to yellow-orange to deep Halloween orange. There was no sign of flowers. I later learned that the flowers only open for one day (and how nice it would be to really know a pumpkin patch and catch this opening). A baby pumpkin forms beneath each flower. The lobed, daggered and very large leaves shade the soil, so that the large pumpkin fruits can gulp in more water.
We used pliers to clip away two pumpkins. We later scooped out seeds before carving, and I wondered whether smaller pumpkins have fewer seeds. I would like to find the book, How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? to learn more.
I wondered about the pumpkins left unharvested in the patch. I later learned that the broken pumpkins in a field will often sprout anew.
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