The Pumpkin at the Other End of the Patch
As we drove to the pumpkin patch on Sunday, the kids were already talking about their perfect pumpkin.
The first trip was just 3 weeks ago and the experience was new then. New and different. The uneven ground full of twisting vines that seemed to reach out and grab your ankles.
It was so new that we picked out perfectly round, orange pumpkins that were neither too big nor too small. The kind of pumpkin you buy at the store. Now with some experience, the plan was different.
“I’m going to get the biggest one out there!” one shouted.
“I want a gourd this time,” another yelled.
We knew the possibilities were endless. To a child, the patch looked like an ocean filled with pumpkins. It went on for miles. A rolling sea of orange.
We climbed up on the wagon and sat on the warm, prickly straw. The driver apparently wanted us to see every single pumpkin sitting in the field. We held on to the rails afraid of falling out of the wagon while he drove down one side of the patch.
When we arrived at the far end we let go ready to get out. But the tractor surged forward and each one of us fell into the other like dominoes. The tractor made two quick right turns and we drove back down the middle towards the near end. I guess the drive was part of the experience. Pumpkins are better when you feel every bump.
We climbed off the wagon and started counting heads. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. We haven’t left one behind. Yet. Then one of our sons, Noah, told us his plan.
“I’m going to the other end to get my pumpkin,” he said.
“Why? There are plenty of good pumpkins right here,” my wife said.
“I saw one at the other end that is perfect. It was big and bumpy. Plus it was kinda red.”
“That’s too much trouble, Noah. I need your help with the little kids. Why not just stay down here and pick out one here? Look,” my wife said grabbing the most convenient pumpkin available, “this is a perfectly reasonable pumpkin.”
Noah, realizing that pumpkins aren’t supposed to be reasonable, wasn’t satisfied. He asked again and this time his face betrayed the desire he felt in his heart. “Can I please go to the other end?”
My wife nodded and off he went.
I wasn’t aware of what was going on until he was neck deep in his story. I was recounting heads and only made it to five. Not seeing him, I asked my wife, “Where’s Noah?”
“Way down there at the other end,” she answered pointing towards a blur of blond hair bouncing its way down the path.
“I don’t see him. Are you sure?”
“Do you see someone rolling a big pumpkin down the road?”
I looked and there he was, so far away that I couldn’t distinguish him from anyone else. I didn’t recognize his face, but I could recognize what he was doing. There was one person struggling to move a pumpkin down the path towards us. It looked like he was drowning in that sea of orange.
He would carry it a little, look like he was about to drop it, and then set it down. Bending over the big ball of orange and red, he then started rolling it. He took few breaks. Just by the way he worked, you could feel his determination.
“Yes,” I said.
“What’s wrong with all of the pumpkins right here?” I asked her confused by his actions.
“Nothing, but to him there was one better on the other end of the patch.”
As we drove home we talked about our day in the pumpkin patch. Whose pumpkin was whose. What we were going to do with them. Which one was our favorite.
The pumpkin we talked about most was the one Noah worked so hard to get. We laughed as we relived the story. His desire. His effort. Our anxiety about the possibility of missing the tractor. How we felt when he made it in time.
I don’t know why he fell in love with that pumpkin, but he did. And now that pumpkin is more than a pumpkin. It is a story.
Some day I hope to take my grandkids to the pumpkin patch. When they see a perfect but inconvenient pumpkin far away, I’ll them a story about the day their dad ignored perfectly good pumpkins sitting at our feet so he could go and get a better one down at the other end of the patch.
Have you ever walked to other end of the patch to pick out a pumpkin?
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