Pumpkin Time Again

In the middle of colorful, fragrant Fall, there is only one thing to do, be glad, for all the wonderful days, just past and those yet to come. It is pumpkin, gourd and broom corn weather! “Listen, the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves.  We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” *   

My euonymus (Wahoo**) trees are dangling hot pink berries with coral centers; like mini-chandeliers.  They add a decorative, autumn touch to flower bouquets.  Clocks will, unfortunately, (11/5) turn back to Standard Time. ☹  There is no logical reason why I can’t accomplish as much after dark as before; we have electric lights in all our rooms.  But my psyche simply won’t cooperate and as darkness falls, so do my energy and initiative levels.    

Are you aware that worrying is futile?  A rhetorical question!  We all know this!   Maya Angelou commented that worry/anxiety doesn’t change the day past or help the day ahead, but it surely ruins the present.  I know that, even as I stew about something over which I have no control! I think the worrying habit emerged when our children came along.  So—– my worrying must be their fault!  😊  Right???   Children or not, it is hard to not worry about the state of the world.   Things seem to keep falling apart at an alarming rate. The trouble is — we aren’t all worried ab out the same things!  So, desired solutions for our worries might be cancelling each other out, as has been true for Kerm’s and my voting on occasion!  

Speaking of voting….Patience please!  I’m doing some ranting here!  I am so not looking forward to a year full of raving and raging politicians, grasping for power, fame and votes.  They are already annoying!  And yet, some people thrive on all the hoo-ha; a friend, who was born in another country, finds it entertaining, like watching a ping pong match!  Our women’s Bible study excludes discussions of politics. We are diverse thinkers, disagreeing on many secular issues, and debating them is not our purpose. However, after reading some O.T. Scripture, we did talk about how we select people to respect and follow.  I once supported someone, later discovered to be a sleezy character, who lied with panache. He had an “honest” face, charming manner, and said what I wanted to hear.  It taught me that it is impossible to judge someone’s acceptability from TV ads, well-written speeches, or which party they support.  Some unsavory people have sounded charismatic, appealing and persuasive, often saying all the “right” things.  There was no conflict among us in agreeing that one must check out background and behavior of candidates, in addition to looking and listening, and, for our group, that would include seeking some heavenly wisdom. This careful checking, applies to spiritual leaders as well as political ones. Behavior speaks louder and more honestly than the most fluent of words!  

We also might consider/wonder about our expectation that elected leaders be perfect in every decision, with no room for errors in judgement.  None of us are!  And yet, we all critique a president’s actions as though we were veterans of running a few countries in our spare time. I often have a running monologue with the evening news! Our collective and uninformed opinions often exhibit both hubris and arrogance. I am disappointed, but historically, several of our very capable presidents had mistresses.  Not good, but maybe, to a point, not our business?  Others have not always been overflowing with wisdom or experience. Some have led us into war; some have stopped wars. An ability to lead the country in mostly wise directions is apparently, not always accompanied by an ideal moral code, or perfect behavior, but the good ones have done their best to put our country’s future before personal gain and ambition. Then there is the average voter, who makes choices based on appearances and the latest crisis instead of viewing the whole picture. I’m convinced that many human brains operate like the stock market; zig – zagging up, down, and around, on the merest whim!   

Our societal tolerance for corruption seems to be growing too. What would have been appalling fifty years ago gets a mere shoulder shrug now.  While I don’t expect a totally shining reputation, I think a leader of our country should have a sincere moral compass, even if it does not totally agree with mine. Situational ethics can be iffy; leading onto a slippery slope of self-justification and lame excuses. I want a solid core of decency.   A president (or other leader) may make mistakes, may have personal issues that are really none of my business (most families do) but strength of purpose and basic honesty are crucial for me.  Any rhetoric outside of that is like clanging cymbals or jangling cow bells.  I want this: “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing that which is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice values rather than simply professing them.”***  

Also, I want good manners, compassionate hearts, and intelligence about our history. I don’t expect a Superman or Wonder Woman, but I do look for quality of character and dignity.  OK, ranting is over!!

On to happier October thoughts! Jack-o-lanterns!  I love seeing the funny or grotesque faces people carve.  My garden pumpkins, this year, were abysmal failures. ☹  They had blossoms but lacked pollinators, heat, and enough time. I wonder if this need to pile the porch with garden goodies is a throw-back to days when bringing harvest in was crucial to a good winter, like “Farmer Boy” of the “Little House on the Prairie” series.  Whatever the reason, I must have my pumpkins and bright, fragrant chrysanthemums too.

Halloween is a week away. For the eerily-inclined, there are many unique and expensive props in stores and catalogs. People living in the Pagan era, celebrating Samain (pronounced “Sah-ween”), would be enthralled by our options. Circles of dancing ghosts for the lawn, bony skeletons for the porch, big round lighted eyes for the trees and broomstick-riding witches for the picture window. Early Celts only had hollowed-out turnips and gourds with candles, to ward off wandering, unfriendly spirits. Their lighted veggies were sort of like carrying pepper spray today.  All the creative décor is enticing, but I prefer smiling pumpkins and colored broom corn, to vampires and zombies.

Many sincere and conscientious people regard Halloween as next door to evil and refuse to acknowledge it at all. I think there is plenty of evil among us, but not necessarily where we humans see it. There are certainly some few, infected by some evil spirit, who use Halloween (and the rest of the year too) for iniquitous and malignant purposes.  For most people, though, Halloween is a light-hearted, fun occasion for dressing up as someone else, and possibly over-indulging in candy. When the boys were small and still into costumes, we had Halloween parties at home rather than Trick-or-Treating expeditions. We not only invited their friends, but our friends too, so they were multi-generational parties. We did skits, had a maze set up in our gabled attic, played games and ate yummy refreshments.  The spirits of everyone who attended seemed to rise as the good times and sweet cider flowed.  No need at all for those lighted veggies —- or zombie-alerts!

 The day following Halloween, All Saints’ Day, is, as I’ve mentioned, special. It is a time when I think, with gratitude, of the people who have been part of my life, and had much to do with how I came to be who I am. My spiritual background is diverse; my mother grew up in the Universalist/Unitarian church and then became a Presbyterian after marrying my Scottish Presbyterian father. I had a Roman Catholic sister-in-law and we are good friends with a very special Franciscan priest and a nun. In our moves, Kerm and I have been part of UCC, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations.  We have attended quite a few Masses, and while living in the Catskills, learned about Jewish worship.   Some family members are Wesleyans, and we have often attended church with them, so there is a warm spot in our hearts for that church.  We have, I hope, grown in wisdom and understanding from our varied experiences.  It seems to me that those who are serious about a spiritual connection with a Higher Power, have this in common, as expressed by a Methodist Bishop, Michael Curry:****

“When love is the way, poverty would be history!

When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.

When love is the way, we will lay our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.

When love is the way, there is plenty of room for all God’s children!**    

All the various creeds do say this in some way, no matter how followers may skew the message. 

Mid to late October alerts us to some chilly days and nights ahead.  The furnace grumpily comes on in the morning and it is nearly time to be toasting our toes with our wood stove.  So far, the weather has been a bit too mild.  Much of the wood we are burning comes from the ash trees that succumbed to the Emerald Ash Beetle.  We are sad to lose the trees, but, on cold mornings, they will serve us still.  And as we look outside, even if the day is misty with rain: “Autumn leaves are nature’s confetti; one last party before winter arrives.” *****   Happy Autumn!

Carol writes from her home in Spencer. She may be reached at: carol42wilde@htva.net.

*Humbert Wolfe — English poet and writer.  He was born in Milan, Italy; his father was a Jewish German and his mother an Italian.  He was brought up and educated in England when his parents moved there.  1885-1940.

**Wahoo” was the Dakota’ tribe’s name for “Arrowood”.  So apparently the wood was used for that.

***Bishop Michael Curry from “I’m Not That Kind of Christian

*****John Mark Green —-Contemporary American poet.

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