Orange alert

Long-time readers of this column have read ad nauseam about my inability to grow a pumpkin to maturity.

Long-time readers of this column have read ad nauseam about my inability to grow a pumpkin to maturity.

For a while it was an obsession.

I blame it on two things. One, reading too many fairy tales as a child; stories such as Cinderella being whisked about in that horse-drawn pumpkin and, on a more disturbing note, Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater keeping his wayward wife in a pumpkin shell very well. Which is pretty much kidnapping, now that I think about it. For sure it’s holding someone against their will. No wonder Peter Pumpkin Eater’s wife wanted to escape. What kind of a man stores his wife in a pumpkin shell?

As a child I thought they looked happy. Mrs. Peter Pumpkin Eater was leaning on the window ledge of her beautiful pumpkin prison looking adoringly up at Peter, a happy smile on her face. What a dysfunctional tale that was. Why would she be all dopey and smiling like that? Dopey! Duh. She was probably drugged as well as held hostage!

But I digress. When I decided to grow a giant pumpkin I found the idea romantic. Two, my sons, who were very tiny at the time, saw that picture on a seed catalogue of a little boy sitting high on top of a giant pumpkin and thought it would be neat to have a big pumpkin like that for themselves.

I took it a step further and suggested we build a playhouse out of it. The idea of them playing inside of a giant pumpkin seemed quaint at the time.

I envisioned little lattice windows and one of those round top doors. Kind of like the one Mrs. Pumpkin Eater was held in. Right now I’m kind of sorry I brought up that whole Peter debacle.

Anyway, it was all for naught.

Come fall the boys made do with what I had managed to grow. We carved out a window and a door and they fetched their toy action figures, the Lego ones,  and set them inside the pumpkin. Only three could fit at once.

“I just don’t know what happened,” I explained to my brave sons. “Next year. Next year you’ll fit inside of it, just wait and see.”

But by the next year they had lost interest in pumpkin playhouses. They thought it was dangerously close to having tea parties or playing house.

They still thought it might be fun to climb one, like the little boy from the seed catalogue, but they had a hay stack that served just as well.

And so it was left to me to pitch pumpkin tents to protect my pumpkins from the frost. it was me who attempted to feed the gourds intravenously, and it was me who crept out to the patch at pollinating time, paint brush in hand, to carefully make sure that nothing was left to chance. Still, for all my efforts, the biggest pumpkin I ever managed to grow wasn’t even big enough to hold the neighbour’s cat.

Had I known about punkin’ chunkin’  or more to the point, had my boys or my husband known abut punkin’ chunkin’, it might have been different. The patch would have received so much constant love and care that we would have had pumpkins bursting their seams everywhere you looked.

Which is what punkin’ chunkin’ is all about. You see, Punkin’ Chunkin’ is the annual World Championship pumpkin tossing contest held the first weekend after Halloween in Millsboro, Delaware.  Competing teams build and implement a host of pumpkin-launching devices, including pneumatic air cannons, catapults, trebuchets and a variety of centrifugal machines. The goal is to see how far you can toss your pumpkin before it hits the Earth and smashes in a wild explosion of shell and seeds.

Think of the fun my boys would have had, building cannons and catapults and launching produce through the autumn air. The blue skies would have turned orange with flying pumpkins. Ah, I can picture them now, using the house, my car and each other for targets … . You know what? Maybe it’s just as well things turned out the way they did.

Shannon McKinnon will be away until the week of Oct. 10. In the meantime we hope you enjoy these previously published columns.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Celebrate women in leadership, March 8, International Women’s Day 2021 (Unsplash)
EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day 2021 shines spotlight on achievements, ongoing inequities

COVID-19 increased gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of care giving for women

Sierra William (left) with her grandmother Eileen William. (Roger William photo)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Sierra William

Xeni Gwet’in woman finds strength in tradition

Cynthia English (Photo submitted)
INTERNATIONL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Cynthia English

Cynthia English, 30, has been working in the logging industry for several years

Kristy Alphonse Palmantier was crowned Williams Lake Stampede Queen in 1981. She has four children (Jody Palmantier, Davee Palmantier, Julie Doerfling and Sky Moses) as well as four grandchildren including Ace, Chance, Xidi and Ryder who was born last month. Alphonse Palmantier lives in Sugar Cane and in her spare time loves to be out on the land and hunt and fish with her partner CraigHilker. (Kristy Palmantier Facebook photo)
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Roots run deep for Kristy Alphonse Palmantier

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read