I warily placed three pumpkins next to my front door within eyeshot. The modifier “warily” denotes my mistrust of this particular vegetable. (I subscribe to the strategy of “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”)
The seed of my pumpkin mistrust germinated while paging through Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes I owned as a toddler. The graphic that accompanied “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” featured a woman trapped inside a huge pumpkin, (presumably Peter’s wife) where she was “kept very well.” Even at that tender age I doubted that Mrs. Pumpkin Eater agreed with that evaluation.
The roots of my Halloween squash misgivings embedded while viewing The Walt Disney “Headless Horseman” cartoon. When the titled spirit pursued Sleepy Hollow’s teacher, Ichabod Crane, HH replaced his head with a Jack ‘O Lantern. That meant that the carved vegetable guided HH during the fateful chase, eventually causing Ichabod’s death.
A Jekyll-Hyde persona permeates pumpkins. The docile side that submits to autumn decorating and cooking is as nice as pie. Turn your back for a moment and pumpkins can grow to over a ton. Some actually encourage growing these behemoths! Recently a 2,363-pound set a new American record at the Pumpkin Weigh-Off Contest. If that giant had been situated on a hill, it could have turned all Mr. Hyde and wiped out a dozen trick-or-treaters with one roll down the incline.
Growing pumpkins to killer size is bad enough; some Halloween revelers actually arm the squashes with cannons. During Delaware’s Punkin Chunkin contest entrants used air cannons among other weapons to lob pumpkins long distances. Apparently during the 2016 event one pumpkin retaliated by exploding the cannon causing injury to television producer, Suzanne Dakessian. A metal plate from the cannon whacked her head resulting in hospitalization and a lengthy rehabilitation. She faired slightly better than old Ichabod.
Perhaps a less violent vegetable should be the harbinger of Halloween. The original Jack O’Lantern was a turnip. Ancient Celtics carved turnips on All Hallow’s Eve to ward off evil spirits.
A turnip – now that’s a vegetable I can trust!
I know this is true because I read it on the Internet!