Playing with Pumpkins, or Actual Photography

It's been yet another volatile season. Or maybe that's just the new normal. We've had two glorious hazes of Indian summer, each preceded by a bitter frost, which is how we came to be the proud owners of three very green pumpkins in mid-September.

I first mistook these beauties for massive acorn squash, but thankfully my in-laws were still around to explain the origin of the gift. My father-in-law now serves as a priest to a small country parish full of big-hearted farmers. Come harvest time, their trunk overflows with farm garden produce. They take their grandkids out to Liturgy and return them with carrots and potatoes. This year, the Sunday of the Cross was heralded with delicious cucumbers, huge beets, beans, the most massive rutabaga known to man, and three green pumpkins.

A fourth came via our produce box in the appropriate month of October, and came quite orange in comparison. Being that said pumpkins were in the company of young children, the colour difference was mentioned quite a lot. Our farm pumpkins figured it was about time they sharpened up and changed their tune. That change was glorious too.

I've never watched a squash in metamorphosis before. By the time I pick them up from the pumpkin patch (or from one of the large cardboard boxes plunked outside of every grocery store), they're usually full-on orange, with nary a hint of their former hue. It seems a pumpkin ripens, not with the blush of a tawny apple, but like the speckle of a browning banana: carrot freckles multiplying 'til only dots of forest remain. Unlike a banana, the last green hold-outs congregate in the creases before retreating to the stem, a slow-motion star-burst in reverse. Time-lapse photography of ripening pumpkins must look like backwards fireworks. I wonder if anyone's published a set.

I tried to capture one particular gourd at star-streak stage and missed it by a day. Maybe I'll catch the last green hold-out in action. My son has named it "Slowpoke". His sister approves. He also wants to roast pumpkin seeds, preferably before tomorrow.

Watching nature exploding in my living room, this self-proclaimed hopeless photographer is also changing her tune. I've long told myself that photography is something I simply don't do, but I'm beginning to think that, like cooking, it may be a skill I could learn to enjoy, provided I put in some practice. I've read that the first step of learning photography is learning to see - to go out to the byways with open eyes and empty hands to find what there is to capture. My hands are rarely empty, but my eyes are always full of sights I wish I could save and share. Little bits of beauty snag my vision and leave me reaching for my smartphone. It's not a Nikon, but it takes a decent picture for a gadget I can carry in my pocket.

So I'm moving on to taking those pictures, or at least trying to, and shushing that silly old voice that said I'll never be any good. I have no plans for a hanging a shingle, or even starting an account on Instagram, but I'll be stopping to snap the roses. Maybe I'll share some of them here; who knows who else might find them lovely.


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