Everything's coming up pumpkins

The Cape is awash in autumn's most prominent hue
The West Yarmouth Congregational Church on Route 28 is one of many Cape churches peddling pumpkins this season. Photo by Maggie Kulbokas.

It's that time of year when pumpkins appear here and there, signaling the start of fall. A favorite decoration from harvest to Halloween to Thanksgiving, pumpkins of every conceivable size adorn everything from porch steps to tablescapes.

Locally-grown pumpkins are available all over the Cape now, at local groceries, nurseries, farm stands and at several Cape Cod churches.

Some folks opt for one perfectly preportioned pumpkin, while others pick up several--one for each child and/or dog in the family. Personally, I like to find one shaped like Bert's head and another shaped like Ernie's.

For the harvest season, some people arrange scarecrows with pumpkins in their yards, and each year in Chatham, the pumpkin people hold court at Kate Gould Park.

Beyond channeling your inner Martha Stewart, carving up your bright orange quarry is probably the best part of Halloween!  The transformation for pumpkin to Jack-o-Lantern is a fun one--shared by artists and children alike. 

Jack-o-Lanterns serve a variety of purposes in folklore, but many believe they were thought to protect the living from the dead during Halloween.

Once you carve into your pumpkin, consider cleaning and roasting the seeds for a delicious snack. Pumpkins are indigenous to this area and were put to many uses by Native Americans.

The colonists also had many uses for pumpkins. According to the History Channel, the origins of the first pumpkin pie began with the colonists who removed the seeds and filled the pumpkin with milk, spices and honey and baked it in hot ash. A poem (author unknown) dating from 1630 read:

"For pottage and puddings and custard and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnip are common supplies;
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon"

Check the Cape Cod calendar of events for upcoming pumpkin events including pumpkin patch sales and fairs.


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