Halloween means ‘Ohnothedaysaregettingshorteranditscoldoutthere’. A time to protect yourself from whatever is coming and for looking back over the year.
Halloween 2019. Stuck a face in a pumpkin, lit a candle and shoved it outside to stop Bad Times over winter. Job done too casually perhaps? I was busy with Stuff, nervous about speaking at an event, wondering what to wear, would people realise how stupid I am? It did not seem obvious to carve that pumpkin meaningfully to ward off things like losing work, the end of all parties, washing shopping and never being able to find a mask when you need it. The pumpkin went rotten by the door but the seeds were saved for spring..
Spring 2020. The awful novelty of collapsing hospitals, death counts, empty supermarkets and silent roads. We bleached our surfaces senseless and checked off the days since the last social gathering, not a mask in sight. So innocent. The pumpkin seeds from that night of useless carving were planted as part of a universal frenzy of gardening. The veg plot, like so many others, bloomed with the luxury of furlough time and fear of empty shop shelves.
Heading for Halloween 2020. Stuck in a pandemic loop. As the first wave came our seedlings popped up and as the second wave arrives we are ready to get carving again. Tick tick here comes the winter clock and the dark nights and the demons of global destruction are all around. Currently mixed up with Halloween.
So there it lies. The one successful pumpkin, the last magic spell available. I am going to be a lot more careful with the carving this year. And we are going to enter this!
I have already written ‘enter pumpkin trail’ on several post it notes and lost them in my excitement.
What to do if you don’t have many pumpkins? The main point is to get a candle behind a face. Evil spirits can’t tell the difference so use what you like.
To win the competition, shall I put out one tastefully carved pumpkin or shall I stick the whole lot out? Maybe hire a generator, full lights and build an entire spooky grotto with smoke machine and live music? It is not nice to sit around dreaming about snatching prizes from small children but it is a straightforward competition. All’s fair and all that.
Poor children, This year the discussions on village forums have reached new heights, beyond dog shit even, as the risks of COVID transmission via bags of sweets and knocking on doors are discussed at length. It makes sense. If the adults can’t do any fun, free stuff, like meeting friends, singing or laughing together, why should the children get away with meeting neighbours and getting free sweets? Make them pay for their sweets like everybody else.
Pumpkins are not just about scaring off evil spirits and getting free sweets. There is also pumpkin soup. For some people this is a delicious winter warmer. For the rest of us it is slimy, thick and a little bit vomity. This could be caused by using the wrong pumpkins or maybe pumpkin soup just is a bit thick and vomity when it comes down to it. Either way, don’t feed the soup, or pumpkins, to hedgehogs. It will upset their digestion. Always fence off your hedgehogs before putting a pumpkin outside and, if they go for the soup, tell them to back off.
New chickens have moved in next door, fresh from the hen rescue trust. Chickens from battery farms are pathetic, bald and don’t know anything beyond cages. They can’t walk down a slope without toppling over and are confused by the open skies above. By this time next year they will have learnt to dig up flowerbeds, invade the kitchen, chase the cat and catch butterflies for lunch. They will also have perfected the art of not laying eggs.
Outside the garden there is so much news. Fury from tier 3 and Marcus Rashford, beyond awful in Nigeria and beacons of hope in Bolivia and New Zealand. All around news is of COVID getting closer but we are weirdly acclimatised to it. In February we watched Wuhan with fascination and agreed that it made sense not to go out without hazmat suits. Now it is normal not to bat an eyelid if you hear of a friend self isolating or a school closed. Shopping is waved at with a dishcloth but the days of frantic hot soapy water and bleach are long gone. Are we too resigned to it all and did it help that those of us with gardens got busy growing pumpkins? No idea.
You can also put faces on old sunflowers.