Imagine my surprise when I went out to the school garden the day before Halloween and found our pumpkins missing. Thursday they were there, Friday they were gone. There were four pumpkins left behind—the ones shown in last week’s wheelbarrow photo—but those were the tiny ones or the misshapen ones or the ones the animals had already claimed with their rudimentary carvings. The best ones, the big basketball-sized ones—which we specifically left out longer so the kids could see how big they would get—were gone, as well as the prettier pie pumpkins.
That hurt. Despite five months of constant care, I was not able to fulfill my promise to the students or their teacher. It undermines the sense of community we discussed when last year’s second graders planted them, about how we all share in the successes of the garden. In fact, the teacher had distributed our early pumpkins to this year’s third grade classrooms while her new class awaited the promise of a later harvest. I’m just grateful the students had a field trip that day or I would have proudly paraded them out into a nearly empty pumpkin patch, tumbleweeds rolling by.
I admit that I spent a good part of Halloween night scrutinizing everyone’s jack-o'-lanterns as the kids trick-or-treated. I would know those pumpkins anywhere. But it seems our friends and neighbors weren’t the culprits. (Either that or they’re masters of disguise.) Anyway, we’re not going to dwell on the negative. There’s always next year, and I’m collecting seeds from other people’s unusual pumpkins so we can have more variety going forward. And next time, there will be 24-hour surveillance on our pumpkin patch. Thieves, you’ve been warned!