Autumn Pumpkin Picking

“…. this was taken by my Aunt Florence (Flossie) Northway. She loved photography and developing her photos…won several national Kodak awards in the 40s and 50s.”

-Photo Contributed by Gail Stowers

Autumn Pumpkin Picking and the crisp autumn air of an October Day is so inviting.    As we look around and drive through the countryside, the mountains are receiving their first snow, leaves are turning to hues of orange and red, and the prolific rose hip has turned its fall red color, preserving Vitamin C that helps birds and wildlife throughout the winter season.

Orangey Reds and Yellows becomes the hues of the month.  Acorn, spaghetti and butternut squashes are displayed on grocery tables and Pumpkins are piled high in bins, creating a seasonal display of stunning variety as they show off their colorful glow.  It’s that time of year when Halloween decorations are pulled out of the closets and thoughts of the current year pumpkin carving session is conceived in the mind and perhaps even sketched on paper.  First though, the perfect Pumpkin must be selected and brought home for the family carving celebration.

Photo Credits :: Shandra Chandler

In Central Idaho, a fun tradition for families to pile in the rig for a fun Pumpkin Picking adventure.   One of the local favorites for picking fresh big pumpkins is Killgore Farms in White Bird Idaho.  Drive down to White Bird Idaho, cross the bridge over the Salmon River, turn right and you’ll see Killgore Farms property on your right with the Salmon River behind it as a backdrop.   You’ll see big orange Pumpkins lying in rows, waiting for a little boy or girl to come along to claim the perfect one.  Turning into Killgore Farms is an adventure in itself.  You weave around towards the big storage barns and find a place to park.  Then, either Mr. Jim Killgore or his son Steve will direct you to the Pumpkin Patch.  There begins the fun!

What is it about a certain pumpkin that gives it a silent voice and the glow of hopeful ownership that reaches out to grab your attention saying “Pick Me, Pick Me!”  Is it the flat face that you’ve envisioned will give your carving the right look?  Is it the perfect round shape with a lovely thick stem on top that seems so artistically correct?   There are so many varieties of pumpkins, so many different shapes, sizes, textures, shades of orange and faces to carve.
Photo Credits :: Shandra Chandler

The perfect pumpkins selected, its time to head home for the carving party and some hot chocolate.  Mom and Dad cut a nice circle out of the top of the pumpkin, and using the stem for a handle,  pull the top of the pumpkin off – leaving an entry for the next step.  The interior pumpkin pulp and seeds need to be removed.  Kids love the fun of grabbing the pumpkin guts and scraping them out.  The squishy insides are like creeper crawlers and stick to your fingers.

Some folks like to save the seeds and roast in the oven for a healthy snack.

How about the face on your pumpkin?  Its helpful to draw your scary pumpkin face before cutting the walls.  Use a marker or a chalk and sketch out your imagined pumpkin face, before you make the cut.  If you don’t like it, just wash off the ink, dry the pumpkin off, and start over.

After the pumpkin face has been carved, you might set the pumpkin outside on the front porch with a candle inside to light up the face for an especially ghoulish decoration at night that the whole neighborhood will enjoy.  Be sure to extinguish the candle before heading to bed.

Now I have to admit, I kind of take the easy way to Halloween decorations.  I have an orange ceramic pumpkin with a pumpkin stem lid that I put that out on my front porch each year.   I haven’t burned a candle in the pumpkin for a couple of years,  but I do enjoy the decorative – non labor oriented accent the ceramic pumpkin adds to our front porch.   A friend of ours, Sharon Stone, made an adorable little mummy character that she gave us one year as a Halloween gift.  We love it and I place it on a door hook inside the house each Halloween.  That is the extent of my Halloween decorations, personally.  However,  in writing about  pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving and the leaves turning, it gives me a creative and mindful way to express my enjoyment of Pumpkin Season and to celebrate my appreciation for an Idaho Autumn.

No matter how you celebrate Pumpkin Season, enjoy the beauty in the change of seasons, the rituals that come with changing our wardrobes from cool summer clothes to warm socks and turtlenecks, and planning for the kids costume parties, getting candy or healthy treats ready for the trick or treaters who’ll visit on Halloween Eve.   It’s all a part of our humanity and we love to celebrate these age old traditions that our own parents cast in our midst to carry on through the years.

I hope you enjoy your own celebration of Autumn Pumpkin Season and add your own kind of magic to the season upon us and the wonderful place we live – Central Idaho.

Special thanks to Gail Stowers and Shandra Chandler for the use of their wonderful photos!

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