The Great Pumpkin Chase


By A.J. Llewellyn

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

– Henry David Thoreau

‘Tis the season of pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins.

I’m not sure if we’re all yearning for a return to gentler times, or we’re embracing the spirit of the great round thing called The World, but I like it. I’ve been reading a lot about the symbolism of pumpkins and way back when – before we commercialized this time of year – pumpkins were considered a sign of good fortune and abundance. Households had strict rules about keeping only round pumpkins, which represented the world. They would carve their pumpkins for good luck. They would sometimes hollow them out and place candles in them to symbolize lighting the way home.

We’re still observing these rituals and I noticed I’ve been invited to more pumpkin-carving parties this year (for adults) than I have in all the years I’ve lived in Los Angeles.

Shopping at my favorite store Trader Joe’s recently, I became a bit obsessed with the “everything’s pumpkin!” motif. There were pumpkin raviolis, pumpkin bread, pies,soup, breakfast rolls, pumpkin truffles (with sea salt and caramel…mmmm…), pancake mixes, pumpkin muffins, seeds, spiced seeds, pumpkin fudge, ice cream, toaster pastries, and my favorite, pumpkin cheesecake.

Sure it’s seasonal, but it seems to be just huge right now. After this weekend the scary Jack-o-lanterns will be replaced by plain pumpkins and gourds in readiness for Thanksgiving. I love this time of year. I like the chilly mornings and evening, the hot summer days and thinking about how I’ll cook pumpkin for dinner. I was walking my dog today thinking about this blog and it struck me that ever since I heard the story of Cinderella’s coach, which of course. was really a humble pumpkin, I’ve seen them as a symbol of hope, and love. And of course, magic.

I write about all three, so as I started thinking about this blog I realized as much as we’re heading into chaotic waters with the electronic generation, many of us are sticking to tradition and myth. I’ve never liked Halloween because I didn’t grow up with it, but as I yearn for a simpler life, of reconnecting with my own family’s traditions and celebrating cycles and seasons, I will attend those pumpkin-carving parties and I’ll happily participate in Halloween festivities with my niece and nephews.

I want them to have memories of pumpkins, the belief in magic, tradition, and most importantly, love.

As I write this, my niece is in my kitchen making coconut pumpkin cookies from a recipe she found online. I have baked with her since was two years old and I will get in there in a minute and help her demolish them all. We’ve stopped pretending that we’ll save some for our other family members.

She is is so in the moment as one is when young, and she is a powerful reminder to me that some things never change. Anticipating the seasons and the good things to be found in them is like re-reading a treasured book. We want the comfort of the story, for the magic to weave its glow all over us again.

However you celebrate this time of year, I wish you peace, love, freedom, a good book to read.

And a great big pumpkin.

Happy Halloween,


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