Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins. Everywhere pumpkins! Hooray!
Okay Okay. I KNOW I’ve been a tad indecisive lately, asking you to call me Melon Head, then Apple Dumpling, and last week, Apple Pudding.
And not for a second would I presume to be as adorable as little bossy lady Lucy up there who without a doubt personifies the term of endearment, “Pumpkin,” like no one else.
I am now a Pumpkin Girl, having braved the chilly winds and hoodie-cladded throngs of wriggly, hyper-adenoidal munchkins with their parental units who led the charge at Cox Pumpkin Farm this past weekend.
Oh, so brave! Are you impressed by the sacrifice? All just for you, natch.
Today we celebrate the joy that is pumpkinness with an iconic poem and some pumpkin pie. Are you wearing your orange bib? I notice you have on your Halloween mask again. That’s good too.
Often shared at Thanksgiving, this is an interesting poem because of Whittier’s reference to pumpkin carving in his boyhood, which suggests the practice predated widespread Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1840’s (hat tip to American Scrapbook for that tidbit).
As you probably know, the Irish had the most influence on the celebration of Halloween (they used to carve out turnips to light the way on their midnight Autumn ramblings). In America they simply substituted pumpkins since they were so plentiful.
Whittier’s tribute to the pumpkin first appeared in the Boston Chronotype in 1846, and I must say I do like his mention of pumpkin pie!
by John Greenleaf Whittier
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o’er Nineveh’s prophet once grew,
While he waited for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and the red fire-rain.
On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin, — our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!
Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circle a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!
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Let’s moisten the lip and brighten the eye, shall we?
About two weeks ago, author/illustrator Kristi Valiant baked her mom’s pumpkin pie and apparently had a sliver of it every time she walked by the kitchen. Needless to say, she was walking by the kitchen a lot that day. Do you remember when she visited Alphabet Soup last year to talk about The Goodbye Cancer Garden? She shared the recipe for that very same pie then.
I’d been thinking of Kristi’s mom’s pie ever since, and finally, finally baked it right after visiting the pumpkin farm.
Not passing up any opportunity to play with my pastry leaf cutters, I doubled her crust recipe so I could toss on some flaky leaves after the filling had set with 20 minutes left to bake. If I make this pie again for Thanksgiving, I’ll be more diligent about covering my crust rim with foil to prevent it from browning so quickly. Still mighty yummy, though, and pumpkin is so good for you with its Vitamin A and potassium. Did you know it’s supposed to cure freckles :)?
Kristi’s Pumpkin Pie recipe can be found here.
P.S. You can take your mask off now.
What???! You’re not wearing a mask?!!!
(Why do you keep doing that?)
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The beautiful and talented Irene Latham is hosting the Roundup this week at Live Your Poem. Once you’ve removed your mask (please do) and wiped the pumpkin smudges from your face, zip on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere. You can take my carriage if you like (doesn’t turn back into a pumpkin for another couple of hours) . . .
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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Come join the fun and discover a new recipe to try this weekend!
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.