Monday, January 2, 2012

O is for Pumpkin

O is actually for October, but if you have an orange and black crayon and write it big enough:

O c t O b e r

—you'll color in those O's and make them pumpkins. How could you not? They are starting to appear on doorsteps, porches, front walks, as if they arrived by nightly migration, descending from the mackerel sky, circling over neighborhoods, and choosing individual houses to drop in on. 

They possess a calm, mysterious, spherical noumenon—thing-in-itselfness, if you will. But their essence is hidden. So what do we do? Cut into them, scoop out their wet, stringy insides, carve a face into their rind, animate them with fire, and set them out as lanterns.

Your mother used to admonish you for playing with your food, but pumpkins are different. They don't insist on being food. They tolerate Halloween foolishness like a small dog putting up with baby clothes. They will submit to the imposition of a leer, a grin, a frown, what have you, with the equanimity of the truly round. Even the invasion of a candle doesn't seem to bother them.   They give up their persistent vegetative state by posing as us. (I speak not of the 1700-pound state fair monsters that are more kin to the pump than the pumpkin. Bigger than any pumpkin has a need to be.)

I started this contemplation of the pumpkin in mid-October. It is now three weks later, in early November. Jacks are still riding the doorsteps with gargoyle masks of surprise, anger, craftiness, serenity, and puzzlement. They have submitted to snowhats after last Saturday's nor'easter...

and there's been barely a flake since. Hi, Old Hatch here, no longer in October; no longer in Nooooooovember (get it? No, longer?) In fact, neither Nov. nor Dec. ever got posted. Sorry, Nov., sorry Dec.  I have ridden the time tram over to January, and the number clicked to a 2, irretrievably. It's 2012, which looks better-guarded with those two black swans, fore and aft, escorting the binary prisoners to some unknown rendezvous. January 2, to be precise: 1/2/12, if you must, the sound of soldiers drilling double time. The first step forward into the big white calendar page. New Year's Day doesn't count, except for the inaugural walk in a festive 54 degrees. A cirrus circus. Tomorrow's a cold one, 1/3, and it's already skating out onto the big white pond. Ready? 

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