“Oh how I love Pumpkin Season. You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season — winter, spring, summer, pumpkin!”
–Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer
I usually move kicking and screaming into pumpkin season, for I adore the moderate days that characterize Whidbey summers. I love exploring beaches and eating crab out on our picnic table. The long days contribute to my level of energy and enthusiasm. Even moving about is easy. Light sweaters and flip flops replace my waterproof jacket, scarves, and boots.
I have lived on Whidbey Island for 22 years and these past few weeks of pumpkin season have been the most beautiful I can recall. Weeks of dry, summer weather and only occasional winds have gifted us with a glorious show of color that stop me in my tracks as I come and go about Oak Harbor. I take photos and collect leaves. I peruse my cookbooks for hot cider recipes, stews and breads.
And I think about pumpkins. I blame Starbucks. I don’t recall any particular fondness for pumpkins until Starbucks began featuring their pumpkin spice lattes each fall. This seasonal addition to their espresso menu reminds me that some of the best times of my life are indeed spent indoors, across the table from a friend, sipping coffee and talking about our lives.
Pumpkin season 2012 is beautiful and enticing because pumpkin has woven its way into so much of what we are eating. Last week we made pumpkin muffins. On Saturday I was treated to a pumpkin malted milkshake that can only be described as divine. We’ve also enjoyed pumpkin English muffins and pancakes and cookies.
Last week we leaped puddles up at Dugualla Bay Farms, picked out pumpkins for carving, and thoroughly enjoyed the sights and sounds they offered. On Wednesday, before trick or treating, we covered the kitchen table with newspaper and carved our selections. We will turn off all the house lights and enjoy their glow each evening during the next few days.
There are many reasons for us to enjoy all that pumpkin season has to offer, but our great motivator this year is the recent addition to our family of a child. Empty nesting became our new normal two years ago following the high school graduation of our last child. My husband and I enjoyed the freedom and it followed the natural order of things.
In May, I met Lori Cavender, executive director of Ryan’s House. I learned that we have shelters for animals but none for children. We have 86 students attending Whidbey Island schools who are unaccompanied homeless youth. I also learned that it is not uncommon for teens taken into foster care to be shipped off our island because there are almost no homes qualified and willing to take a teenager.
Armed with this information, my husband and I began making phone calls and asking questions. We began praying and soul searching and talking with social workers.
This week we carved pumpkins with a remarkable new family member. We face painted, drank pumpkin shakes, and celebrated pumpkin season as we have never celebrated before.