It’s autumn in America. Austin has finally decided to give in and drop the temperature. It’s grey, drizzly, windy, uncomfortable. The clocks haven’t gone back yet, which brings us an hour closer to Europe for a couple of weeks, until we, too, turn on our clocks to wintertime.
Actually, it’s fall now. And fall in America means you can’t avoid pumpkins! I know pumpkins are a thing in England and Germany too at this time of year (but surely, that wasn’t the case when I was a little girl??), but to me, they are a typically American thing.
A friend of mine asked me last week what my next blog post would be about, and before I could really think about it, my mouth said “pumpkins”. She looked at me with a bemused expression, and I started a rant about pumpkins, until she burst out laughing and said, “Wow, you really hate pumpkins”.
Yes, I realised, I really, really hate pumpkins. I am the fucking pumpkin grinch. The Ebenezer Scrooge of pumpkin-scented, pre-holiday, Halloween-loving fall-mania. I hadn’t realised quite how strongly I felt about them, but there you have it. The weird thing is that I actually love this time of year; late October, early November, that’s my time to shine. Maybe it’s because it’s Scorpio season – my birthday is next week. I always feel extra energetic during this period, when other people bemoan the fact that it’s got colder, darker, more miserable. My mood improves, I have more energy, feel more sparkly, more intense…. It is absolutely possible that nobody else but me notices this, but I definitely feel a surge of something extra running through my blood (until about mid November, when I’m done with cold and dark and become just as miserable as everybody else). And yet, I loathe pumpkins, which are so much part of this season. I’m also not a big fan of Halloween, but that’s another topic.
I wonder if it’s the colour orange that repulses me. Nobody looks good in orange, it’s a colour that shouldn’t be used for clothing other than safety apparel. I seem to keep living in places where orange plays a big role: San Francisco’s baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, has orange and black as its team colours, while the University of Texas’ football team, the Longhorns, display their logo in a burnt orange hue, and the amount of hats, T-shirts and other clothing items is obscene. It’s not a good colour. But I do love autumn foliage and California poppies. And Apérol Spritz.
So okay, maybe I can deal with the colour orange, and it’s just the whole pumpkin mania that riles me. Please anybody convince me of just one redeeming feature. People go on and on about the beauty of pumpkin patches, and yes, you can make it a family outing, dress in fall colours, take your kids and dog, load up a wheelbarrow with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, snap a few family pics and then pay an indecent amount of dosh for the privilege. Or you could just go to the supermarket and get a buy-one-get-ten-free deal. They are literally spilling out of every shop’s doors right now, it’s a miracle I haven’t tripped over one yet and broken my leg.
I also really abhor the taste of pumpkin, and right now, it’s everywhere. It all starts in September, when Starbucks rolls out everybody’s favourite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I detest bloody pumpkin spice, can’t even stand the smell of it. Pumpkin spice tea, pumpkin spice candles, even pumpkin spice face masks and fucking cleaning products! I ask you?! And don’t try and feed me pumpkin pie, the staple dessert at a Thanksgiving dinner. No, thanks, just gross. Or, of course, the vile concoction that is pumpkin soup. Oh, how many times have we tried to use the foul-smelling slime that oozes out when you carve a damn pumpkin and turn it into a delicious, nourishing, heart-warming meal! Tried to eat it, then froze it “for later”, then threw it out, as nobody wanted to eat it (I do like butternut and delicata squash).
But what about a lovely carved pumpkin?, I hear you pumpkin-lovers exclaim. Don’t even get me started. No, just no. The mess! The pain of trying to slice a pattern into it, the competitive element, the “my pumpkin looks so much better than yours” thing between siblings, the tears when you chop the wrong bit off and the design gets ruined and yet another pumpkin needs to be purchased…. The smell of burning pumpkin seeds in the oven, when you were trying to find at least one decent thing about the pumpkin – roasted pumpkin seeds – but then were too busy tending to carving wounds and cleaning gooey mess off the floor so the dog doesn’t step in it and then drags the stringy goo all over the house, to actually notice the smell of burning in the oven until it’s too late. No, I don’t need a grimacing pumpkin with a fucking candle in it outside my house, sitting there, being gnawed at by squirrels and other dirty creatures that wouldn’t come near my house if it didn’t have a sodding pumpkin outside, and then slowly getting more mushy and disgusting as the days go by, until one dark and damp morning, you step into the smushy, globby mess on your way to your car, because it’s still dark because the bloody candle has long since stopped burning. And you end up with sticky pumpkin juice all over your shoes that will refuse to be washed off but will stain everything for the rest of the day, nay, the season…
Oh, I feel so much better now. Sometimes, the German/British side of me needs to vent a little. And now I’m looking forward to my favourite season, without a single freaking pumpkin anywhere in my vicinity. Bah humbug!