This week’s topic is one of “orange” proportions.
My story begins on a day like any other. That is until a neighbor (whom I had yet to meet) strolled up to my gate and rang the buzzer. She politely asked if she could take a few of my pumpkin flowers.
This was a first for me.
She went on to plead her case by first describing her morning walks. How each day she would pass by my house and admire my pumpkin flowers.
Allegedly, my neighbor had been attempting to grow her pumpkins for years but was unsuccessful.
My home apparently had the most fruitful vine that boasted an impressive amount of flowers.
She continued on, admitting it made her disheartened to look upon so many flowers alive one day and dead the next. “I'm guessing you don't care about them,” she dryly quipped. “I’m Mexican, and to us, pumpkin flowers are priceless. We use them in mole, quesadillas, and salads….they are the heartbeat of a dish.”
My heartstrings were being pulled. However, there was a method to my madness.
In what was truly the most interesting and longest exchange I have ever had with a total stranger in the middle of a hectic workday, I revealed why I had planted the pumpkins in the first place.
I had a vision of every child on my street receiving one. A romantic notion, yes. Doable? Well, dear Famolare Woman, I was trying my darnedest!
I could hear disappointment when I shared this vision with her.
And at that moment, my thoughts flickered until they landed on a solution that would satisfy all parties.
I invited her in with the promise of a few flowers, but only *if* she shared her extensive knowledge of these precious flowers and how to care for them properly.
And like a good neighbor, she did.
And what kind of neighbor would I be if I didn’t share how you can propagate your own pumpkins? I’ll include a brief beginner's guide below...
It all starts with (you guessed it) the flowers! Pumpkin flowers are funnel-shaped blossoms and usually, are a bright orange or yellow color.
Next, it is vital to distinguish the gender of your blossoms.
Male flowers will have a long, slender stem that connects it to the vine, with zero bumps at the base of the blossom. If you were to look inside the blossom, you would see the cylindrical, central stamens.
Female flowers appear close to the base and usually grow on a short, thick flower stalk. They also have a small, round bulge just below the base of the bloom.
Both play a part in creating a pumpkin, and that process is called pollination. Once the pollination process is a success, the pumpkin should mature in about 45 to 55 days.
It is no secret I adore nature. Pumpkins aren’t the only thing that has taken root in my corazón. I have planted oregano and portulaca flowers —- the bees are big fans. I often will sit on my deck to watch them dutifully buzz by, my wavy fitted and well-lived-in Famolares propped up on my cafe table chair. The sun reflects off their brass knuckles. And I am reminded how we constantly make waves by interacting with others.
I, with my neighbor.
And the bees, of course, with their respective flowers.
Nature is cyclical. Nature is astounding. And we get to be active participants and stewards of it.
And with that, I will leave you with a poem by yours truly about the flower-turned-squash that pushes neighbors into friends. Til next time…
Planted just as the sun’s warmth
Made my cheeks tingle
As the creek broke free
As the crocus peeked through the blades
Small and tender, so it began
By the hands of a nurturer
She lay, waiting for the morning dew
The time for her body to open
With her photosynthesis in high gear
She waits for hours
Sheltered by the fronds
Protecting her fragile being
She waits for him
Her group of stigmas
An antithesis to reality
His stamen needs stamina
And they need a little help
From their buzzy friend
She opens and accepts
The bee’s offering
Her maturity is forthcoming
His purpose is not yet complete
She gestates with joy and fulfillment
He folds, satiated
But lives on in the mouths
Of those who cherish his special existence
She grows bolder and stronger
Day by day
And as her neighbor’s
Leaves turn the color of the sun
Fallen corazón spread underfoot
She realizes it’s almost time
For her to move on
And then she does
Bringing joy to children
Who marks up her blossomed body
And ravish her soul to feed theirs
She gives, and she gives
And if they care, they will save her seed
Rinse off and discard her baggage
Pat, dry, and restore
And she’ll live a full life once again