On Saturday, I took Dot to the University’s organic farm harvest festival, and told her she could choose her own pumpkin.
There were giant, orange pumpkins, medium pumpkins, tiny green pumpkins, funny yellow oblong pumpkins, white ghostly pumpkins – more pumpkins and kinds of pumpkins than I’d ever seen before.
There was, however, only one pumpkin that was tiny and yellow and slightly rotten, with a withered brown stem. Dot found it, of course, and it was love at first sight.
I could not get her interested in any of the other tiny green pumpkins, or the small orange one she’d initially liked the best. Nope. Once she’d seen that little yellow pumpkin, it was her pumpkin, and she wasn’t going to let go of it. I should have nipped that pumpkin love in the bud, I know, but she’s never had a favorite toy that has stayed a favorite for long, and I thought she’d grow bored with the pumpkin before we got home. But I drastically underestimated her love for her new friend. By the time we arrived home, she had named it “Little Pumpkin,” and hugged and kissed it many times. And for the rest of the day she played with Little Pumpkin. She swung it by its stem to make it dance, she showed it to her daddy, proclaiming, “This is the one I choose! Because I love it!” She insisted upon sleeping with it at night.
On Sunday, Little Pumpkin had to come with us to the Arboretum, and then Little Pumpkin had to be in the bed during Dot’s nap.
“Does she need a clean diaper?” N asked me.
“No,” I said.
He sniffed the air. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” I replied, grimly. “What you’re smelling is Little Pumpkin.”
After Dot fell asleep, I grabbed that smelly little squash and attempted to dry it out in the oven. It works for gourds, right? And pumpkins are related to gourds, right? I set the oven on low heat, made sure the oven light was off, and set little pumpkin in a bed of salt on a pyrex bowl in the middle rack. I crossed my fingers. When Dot woke up, she asked for her pumpkin, and, fool that I am, I told her I’d taken Little Pumpkin to the “pumpkin doctor.” At which point she cried and I frantically promised that Little Pumpkin would be back soon.
Early this morning I sneaked into the kitchen to check on Little Pumpkin, and while Little Pumpkin is no longer stinky, it is also about 1/4 its original size and no longer at all yellow. It has caved in on itself and developed a withered, mummified texture. It’s pretty awful, and bears no resemblance to the Little Pumpkin with which Dot fell in love.
I am a pumpkin murderer, my friends. A mad scientist pumpkin murderer.
Now I am thinking of various kinds of deception. Because first thing this morning, Dot asked for Little Pumpkin. Little Pumpkin is supposed to be back from the pumpkin doctor today! And while I told myself I’d always be honest with my child, I’m really not ready to have the death talk right now. Not about a pumpkin, dear as it may have been. Also, I don’t want to let her know that I’m a crazy murderer of pumpkins and that I dried her little friend into a withered, leathery, blob in our kitchen. Think of the nightmares!
So, do I try to muster my very limited sewing skills and try to make a yellow fabric pumpkin of the same size and approximate weight? Do I search the grocery stores for something resembling an apricot-sized yellow pumpkin? Do I say that Little Pumpkin was accepted into Madame Courgette’s School of Dance (the most prestigious school of dance for any pumpkin, gourd, or squash, you know), and had to leave without saying goodbye? Do I go to the pet store and tell her that Little Pumpkin has transformed into a goldfish?
I know that last sounds crazy, but somehow I feel like I’d be ready to talk about death if it pertained to a goldfish. More so than a squash, anyway.
Plus, Little Pumpkin strikes me as a good name for a goldfish, really.
Of course, I really just wish that death and decay would stay far away from her forever. A strange wish for this month of Halloween, but there it is.