Save the Pumpkins: A Plea from Little Jack O’Lantern
Being a city girl most of my life, I have cherished my experiences of country living, not only for the slower pace, but also for the wildlife I discovered there. This time of year, I can’t help thinking of a certain species whose season only lasts for a short time at the end of October. This week’s blog is devoted to a young lad I met a few years ago who asked me to share his tale with kind-hearted people like you. This is his story.
“Hi! My name is Jack. Katherine said she’d help me ask you cuz I didn’t know what else to do. I need your help. First, I want to invite you to a special place, a beautiful place, the only place I’ve ever known. Mama Earth rises and falls softly here. And all around us the sky’s clear and blue and the clouds watch over us like puffy angel wings. Mr. Wind is blowing strong now. The leaves are crisp from letting go of their trees. They’re lucky cuz they get to dance with him, back and forth, ’round and ’round. I feel lighter just watching them.
Every year the same thing happens again and again – Aunt Mimosa told me so. She’s not really my Aunt – we’re not related at all. But she kinda takes everyone around here under her arm. Even the kids from down the road come and sit with us sometimes. We all know it’s because of her, but we like them being here all the same.
Lately, more and more people are coming. Aunt Mimosa told us when it gets to be this time every year, lots of folks do. Everybody drives out in big cars to see us. They usually bring little children with them. I like little children. They look at us long and hard. They pick us up and turn us this way and that, holding us up by our hair, looking us over for… I’m not sure what.
Some people like the beautiful ones. But then again, if you’re looking for something other than what we are, I guess you’d find us all pretty ugly. Some of us are taller. Some are thicker around the middle. Some of us are even lopsided. Some have brown spots in places. Some are more smoother. Even though we have the same skin, some of us are lighter and some are darker. Everybody seems to have something in particular they’re looking for. I just wish I knew what it was.
Farmer Max told us two weeks ago what this was all about. He likes having people drive out from the city – not the one with the courthouse, but the one where ol’ Joe goes in the truck on Tuesdays. Anyways, Farmer Max came out early on Sunday morning with his coffee. He walked up and down our rows for what seemed like hours to me – stooping over and patting us on our heads. Then he sat down. Farmer Max takes his time. And, as Grandpa Sun showed his face on top of the little hill that rises up to the road, he told us why we’re here. He told us the people come out just once a year to see us, and to take us home. It’s a kind of rich-el people do when the leaves let go. “You make ‘em happy,” he said. “That’s your porpoise.”
I kinda liked the sound of that – having a porpoise. But it’s scary, too. I mean, what can I do about it? Sit and wait. If only I had feet, I’d dance my way into their hearts. If only I had a voice, I’d sing them a beautiful ballad. If only I could write, I’d make a list of all the special things about me and tie it on my stem. I wish they could see inside me. I wish I could make them see how tender my heart is… what a beautiful smile I could have if the right person comes along to bring it out. But I can’t. There’s nothing I can do to get their attention, but sit here and be myself. That’s the hardest part, especially when I watch everybody else but me getting to go home with a family.
Yesterday, it was cousin Jane. They seemed like a nice enough family. They had the cutest little girl – little brown spots on her face kinda like mine, and pigtails on both sides of her head, and her hair was the same color as Molly – Farmer Max’s chestnut mare. She really did seem happy. Jane, I mean. We all want to be chosen. We can see with our own eyes how happy it makes the little children just looking at us.
I don’t understand though. They pick me up and look at me. They scratch me and thump me just like I see them doing with the others. But then they pick somebody else. What if I don’t get a family?
I mean, it’s been 2 weeks now. Don’t get the idea I’m the only one left. I just don’t want to be the last one. It’s not only about not getting called. I’m just scared I won’t get my chance to show my own face to the world… to feel that warm glow inside… to go home with a family of my own and hang out in the kitchen… to play dress-up with all the little children… to hear them laugh and squeal and scream with delight. No one has ever come back to tell us what it’s really like. But Farmer Max seems like a good man, and I believe what he told us.
We only get one season, you know. And we all deserve a chance. Aunt Mimosa said so.
Katherine told me you might be able to help us. So, I’m asking you to come, and bring your friends, to Farmer Max’s Punkin Patch. Some families even pick 3 or 4 of us and take them all together – I’ve seen them. That’s really better, I think, cuz it’s not so scary, not so lonely.
Please come. It’s beautiful out here. Ol’ Joe says it’s really easy to get here from the city. Just past the courthouse in the middle of town, you turn right, then left across the railroad tracks past Julia’s Junk Barn. Keep going a little after Mr. Cochran’s Holsteins. When you pass the Morgan twins’ matching trailer homes, start looking for Aunt Mimosa. She’ll be waving.
And there we are! There’s a fence of course, but the gate’s usually open. And nobody ’round here’d mind if you squeeze between the wires and c’mon in. Everybody’s welcome. We love the company. Hurry though. There isn’t that much time left. Oh, and would you ask for me – they call me Little Jack. Little Jack O’Lantern. I’ll be looking for you. Cuz only you can save the Pumpkins.”
For years I’ve driven by pumpkin-studded parking lots in October without blinking. Now I always hear Jack’s little voice asking me to help. So this year, once again, I’d like to ask, even if you can’t make it out to Farmer Max’s, please support your local chapter of the Save the Pumpkins Fund. You can make a difference.