Wednesday Word: 22 September 2021

New England is just bonkers over autumn. It may be because we have these gorgeous sugar maples and morning mists and warm blue sky afternoons and loaded apple trees (every other year). It may be that we just like this season of impending doom. Three whole months to tune up the winter complaints. But in spite of the foliage and weather — and Yankee spite — I think the main attraction is surely this guy (or his blue lumpy cousin in the background, the Hubbard squash).


I don’t even know how many pumpkin festivals there are just within twenty miles of my house. And then there are the pick-your-own pumpkin patches and the farm stands piled with pumpkin pyramids. There is pumpkin in all sorts of foods — pies and breads to empanadas and stew. And the entire region smells like roasting squash and pumpkin spice for months.

But the best use of pumpkin in New England, maybe in the world, is in Milford, NH. At the annual Milford Pumpkin Festival, usually the first weekend in October, the town erects a 20-foot-tall trebuchet near the town pond. Pumpkins are loaded into the sling and chucked out over the water. There is some form of contest. You pay for a chance to launch the pumpkin out over the water. If your pumpkin chances to splash down in one of several buoyed rings, you win a small prize and a good deal of cheering from the crowds. The lines of people waiting their chance to chuck a pumpkin into the water run for several blocks. Surprisingly, nobody is much bothered by the wait.

The Milford Pumpkin Festival will be held this year, in theory. But their website is broken, so I can’t confirm that one. Other things to do at the festival include an arts and crafts fair, sampling local foods from birch soda to fresh hot cider donuts, visiting the square dance field, listening to unusually good music, and ogling the largest pumpkins in New Hampshire. These are true monsters. They come loaded on industrial pallets. The blue ribbons regularly go to cucurbits as big as a VW Bug — and often heavier than the car. We probably don’t want to know what engorgement charms were used to grow these mammoths. But they sure are mesmerizingly enormous!

Wednesday Word

for 22 September 2021


You can respond in the comments below or make a Twitter post to the Wednesday Word. Either way, begin your response with #harvest. Your response can be anything made from words. I love poetry, but anything can be poetic and you needn’t even be limited to poetics. An observation, a story, a thought. Might even be an image — however, I am not a visual person, so it has to work harder to convey meaning. In the spirit of word prompts, it’s best if you use the word; but I’m not even a stickler about that. Especially if you can convey the meaning without ever touching the word.

If responding in Twitter, you are limited to the forms of Twitter. I would prefer that there be no threads because that is difficult. So if you have something long, post it in the comments below. That said, please don’t go too long. Keep it under 2000 words. I’m not going to count, but I’m also not promising to read a novel. Unless it’s really good!

If I receive something particularly impressive, I’ll post it next week. If not, well, that’s fine too. I know you all are busy. But if you’ve read this far, then I’ve made you think about… harvest.

these few hours

these few hours
between harvest moon and hunter's
as day hastens into night on autumn gales
hours for totting up -- goods, offspring, memories
these hours, suddenly spent
these hours, filling the granary, pressing the vine
from moon to moon, and then, no more
and then, bare winter contemplation
we give thanks for these hours
of gales and gathering
of candlelight and cold
hours permeated with apple, pumpkin, pear
and spice opulent as autumn's palette
we give thanks, perhaps perfunctorily
in the mad rush of these hours
these few hours, life distilled, life's quintessence
yes, these hours from harvest to hunter
yes, gather what you may in these hours
but never squander
these few hours

©Elizabeth Anker 2021

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