This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
If the words “pumpkin” and “spice” are being bandied about it’s officially fall. That means I plug in my light box in the mornings from now until March because I am seasonally affected by this feeling that I call, I-wish-I-could-hibernate-through-the-holidays-like-a-badger.
I am not the merry sort. I have a fall wreath on my door in an attempt to be cheerful, and seasonally appropriate, but it’s glued-on plastic globes of grapes and styrofoam hazelnuts and whatnot are falling off. The thing looks mangey. And I don’t care.
I call the loads of kids who come by hay wagon to my place to receive their Halloween candy, a “swarm” and I’m like, “Oh, so you’re Rocket Raccoon from the summer blockbuster that shilled the soundtrack of my ’70s childhood? How creative.” And then I wonder why they grab the full-sized KitKats and run. If you needed further proof that we live in a fallen world see: the classification of KitKats as healthy.
Which brings me to pumpkins, which are healthy. They’re loaded with beta carotene. It gives them their eye-catching color. I love the color orange. I think it corresponds to one of my chakras. Also, I adore pumpkin pie. It is pumpkin pie that gives me the strength and courage to make it through the holidays.
Pumpkins are members of the vine crops family called cucurbits. How cute and Scrabble-ready is that word? And did you know that 95 percent of the processed pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois? Trot that fun fact out at your fall harvest festival.
From the extension school of the University of Illinois at Urbana, I also learned “the origin of pumpkin pie occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in hot ashes.”
I just might try that olde recipe. When the kids come over for trick-or-treating I’ll be out there stooped over my cauldron, “Making pumpkin pie just like my weirdo-zealot Puritan ancestors, my pretties.”
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