How on earth did we end up with so many gourds decorating our loungeroom? And why do I feel I can’t get rid of them? Is there some weird sort of attraction to the rounded orangeness of them and their gorgeous rotundness? Why did a visitor add a baby gourd to the collection? Did it need company?

My husband HATES pumpkins with a passion, and extends that distaste to anything else he considers a gourd – cucumbers, watermelons, rockmelons, and most things that seem to go into a salad or fruit salad. Fortunately chocolate and strawberries don’t fit in the gourd category or we’d really be in trouble!

As for me, I LOVE pumpkin soup (such a soothing velvety creaminess for winter nights) and pumpkin pie (a rarity in Australia) – but I don’t feel any loyalty to roast or mashed pumpkin. So how did we end up with a shelf full of the things? And who puts them on a shelf anyway?

In Australia Halloween is just a fledgling event. The odd group of primary school kids roam the streets in pointy hats and sheets with eye holes, and for a few weeks lolly eyeballs, mechanical spiders and foam headstones are sold in the discount stores. It’s something you either love or hate.

We lived in Canada for a year when our son was a baby so we feel a connection to the tradition. It has become a marker of our children growing up, and it brings back special memories.

When they were tiny I remember plotting with two other mums to prepare some of the neighbours for trick or treating – remembering that hardly anyone had heard of Halloween at the time. We would drop off bags of lollies in advance so they would be prepared when a pack of little monsters came knocking on the door. Obliging neighbours, waiting anxiously at the door for their starring role (and hoping they got the right date), dramatically over-acted their expressions of surprise as they grabbed the prepared bag from behind the door.

 As the growing group of kids ventured further afield I remember them coming home with bags of weird stuff from unprepared pantries – full boxes of biscuits, melted icypoles, money, dried noodles and my all time favourite – toothpaste and toothbrushes from the dentist across the road! There was just one lone American family they found and returned to year after year for chocolate eyeballs 🙂

As my children grew taller than me they gradually stopped knocking on doors, but answered ours instead. And last year my daughter had a Halloween murder mystery party where we apparently needed a pumpkin to carve. It didn’t get carved, but somehow it grew a comforting personality and seems to have become a part of the family. One more odd bod amongst us! (Make that two – its little friend was brought over by a visitor). The butternut completed the trio just this week – I have soup in mind.

It is time for these pumpkins to leave home – one way or another. But I couldn’t let them go without drawing their portrait first. They will not be forgotten 🙂

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