One of my friends teases me about “pumpkin time” when we go out in the evening.  I tend to set an end time that I need to be home, usually because I need to be up for work, sometimes in order to get a blog post in by midnight.  His reference is to the carriage from Cinderella; at midnight it turned back into a pumpkin.

Because this is the season for pumpkins, his comment tonight made me start pondering this odd fruit that has so many cultural meanings.  (It has seeds on the inside; botanically it is a fruit.  The seeds are quite tasty, in fact.)  Cultural phenomena are always interesting to consider as a writer, because they give us both a point of reference and a bias in our writing.

Like so many other squashes, the pumpkin ripens in fall and early winter.  This is why the pumpkin spice craze hits every year around this time; if you like pumpkin, there are many foods and beverages for you to enjoy right now.  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin breads, and other pumpkin treats are associated with both Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States due to the seasonal nature of the plant.

In addition, we have the other holiday associated with pumpkins: Halloween.  Jack-o-lanterns are probably being carved as we speak to decorate front porches, homes, and businesses across the country.  Some are spooky, some are intricate, and some are just fun, but all are a childhood tradition writ large.  I have fond memories of the newspaper-lined kitchen table, slimy pumpkin guts making a mess everywhere, and orange shapes cut from pumpkin flesh to make a grinning face.  I suspect that adults who carve artistic or disturbing pumpkins have similar memories from their early years.

To wrap up this wander through the pumpkin patch, I also need to mention the nickname “Pumpkin” that is often used for kids.  It is often spoken in a sweet tone, especially for small or cute children (or those that are both).  For some it sticks, and their parents use it into their teen or adult years.  I don’t know why this large, round, orange squash has become a term of endearment, but it has.

With that, it is my true “pumpkin time” and I am heading for my pillows.  Enjoy your favorite pumpkin of the season, be it carved, pie, or latte!

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