October has been heavy with heat and rain. I have wondered if it will ever burst forth more goldenrod and cinnamon than gray. Sometimes it seems too weak to break away from summer’s tight grip, at other times too sluggish to progress toward winter.
So many of us crave sun-ripened berries. Saltwater is enough to justify a getaway. It’s so easy that there isn’t even a dance. Summer months show up, and we find ourselves dizzied by its offerings. As for October, he has a bit of a challenge. You can’t sink your teeth into acorn squash like you do with a ripe tomato.
Sure, we can still find ripe lettuce and citrus in many places, but October is a time for squash and gourds. Delicious, yes, but only after you get past the unenticing names and invest some serious cooking time. Consider the pumpkin. If it weren’t so irresistibly orange, so twistily stemmed, we most certainly would pass it over entirely.
Curiously, I do find myself wondering if I need yet another pumpkin each time I visit the market. When I pick one out, the experience is a far cry from selecting an ear of corn. Pumpkin selection is personal. Some of us prefer the perfectly round globe with the quirkiest stem. Others fall for the odd man out, the charmer with uneven sides and funny little lumps.
Once I pick one out, it is my partner for the rest of the trip. Gathering other groceries is a game of can I hold this without dropping the pumpkin? or do I need to swap my basket for a cart now? Suddenly everything becomes centered on the awkwardly sized grocery partner that requires hours to even make tasty, and which I didn’t even plan to buy. There we are – the pumpkin and I – picking out a carton of eggs, perusing the bin of onions.
In return for the pumpkin pile rescue, my partner is dependable and rather solid. Even after being tucked under my arm and rolled around in the car, it sits perfectly intact on the counter, where it can remain for weeks if uncut. Mine never hangs around that long, and I have a delicious recipe coming up that will show you why.
Returning to October, I realize he hasn’t been weak or sluggish. He has been giving us a slow burn, holding back on brisk days so that we wake up hoping for the fullness of autumn. Inconceivably he has made me wonder if the pumpkin is superior to the blackberry, as I sit in the kitchen patiently waiting for it to collapse into roasted sweetness. October is drawing out the wait, and we might be falling in love with him for it.