Monday, October 18, 2010

A Pumpkin Story

I’m sitting in an old Spanish style Hollywood house, complete with hand painted tiles and arched doorways and windows and I’m looking out over a garden of palms and palmettos and figs and avocados and lemons…all trees!  This must be what the Garden of Eden looked like. This house is an odd one though. It is so beautiful and I can feel its stories wanting to be heard but it holds  a viscous energy; quite like pudding, and I have a difficult time doing anything productive here except bake and clean.

And so today I did both.  I added pumpkin cookies to my rather vast repertoire. Pumpkin, pumpkin, what kind of word is pumpkin? It sounds exactly as it looks. Friendly and round and fertile. And now my very own pumpkin story for you.

Almost forty years ago I found myself living at home with my parents after having been out in the world seeking my path. I had taken a leave of absence from college and found a cottage and  work in the White Mountains of New Hampshire,  and now after two years,  a totally different person, I had returned ‘home’. Is this ever easy? Do we forever revert to being a child when in our parents’ abode? And so, though I was commuting to and teaching in New York City every day, another form of escape was essential and so I followed the suggestion of a friend and knocked on the door of someone that I hardly knew from high school days.

After teaching all day,  as it was still light and fall-crisp , breath-taking I decided to walk barefoot (yes I was a Bohemian at heart and in dress during these years) down to the local bookstore to buy a music book so that I could sing and play my guitar for the children in my class. On the way home, shuffling though crispy leaves I looked up and saw the roadsign for this class-mate’s home, and so I turned towards it. I climbed the stairs, past the Japanese maple, to the elegant door and hesitated before knocking but then I did. Peter answered the door. I introduced myself to him in case he didn’t recognize me, and I said “Would you like to be my friend?”

There I stood with golden hair loose below my waist, in a stunning long black and red, medieval looking, wool dress and barefoot. He told me later that he thought an angel had dropped out of the skies just for him.

He said “Yes, I would like to be friends but I’m just on my way to work at a restaurant and I won’t be home until late”.

I said, “That’s alright! Come on over when you’re done! I’ll make pumpkin bread!”

I had never made pumpkin bread before but I had just been given a recipe by a friend whose sister  was making and selling this luscious confection in Vermont. This was the day for me to try it!

And so at midnight Peter arrived. He burned his tongue on my pumpkin bread, we played gin rummy, and six months later we were married. Peter is the father of my two amazing daughters and though we did not stay married past the fourteen year mark, he is the most wonderful father two girls could have, I shall love him forever, and I shall always have a special fondness for all things pumpkin.

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