Friday, December 19, 2014

Pumpkins in the City

It was a warm Fall day. We had checked out of the hotel and were waiting to head back to Columbia. Grandma and Grandpa had preceded us in their rental and we had times on our hands. The kids and I decided to take a walk around Arlington, and "see what we can see," and with a kid's eyes we could see a lot.

We saw the fallen leaves, the broken branches, the wilted flowers. We saw bottle caps, candy wrappers, empty bags of chips. We saw lost mittens, hairbands, and even a shoe. There were airplanes above, ledges aside, water beyond. Then there was the pumpkin patch.

On the intersection between Fort Meyer Drive and Lee Highway there lies an island. Its primary purpose is to split traffic in two directions and allow for pedestrians to cross, but today it was our playground. In celebration of Fall someone had taken the time to turn this otherwise ordinary section of the road into a pumpkin patch and had left it there well past Halloween. That was not good for the pumpkins, but it was great for us.

When she first spotted the pumpkins, JR asked if we could take a look, so we did. Then she got closer to them. She examined the find: some were painted, some had eyes, some were round and others were losing their shape, there were orange ones and there were yellow ones. She kicked one around, it fell over. She squealed, Yousef jumped back. Then she asked if she could touch them. I did not see a reason why not. Actually, I saw many reasons why not but I decided to shed caution to the wind and allow for some fun; the hotel was close by after all and we had my parent's apartment at our disposal if we really needed it. So, I let her at it.

She proceeded slowly at first, hesitant, unsure of what she will encounter. She gently touched one pumpkin and it felt soft to her touch. She turned another one over, it was rotten. She looked for a stick and tried to poke a third; the stick went through and a light went off in JR's head: this could be even more fun, especially when you equate messy with fun! She looked at me for permission and seeing how I was enjoying watching her as much as she was enjoying what she was doing I nodded in approval.

Proceed with caution at first
There then followed the giggles and the laughs as she set the stick aside and dug in with her hands. She was almost up to her elbows in pumpkin gutting out the one she chose. Handful after handful came the seeds and the strings.

It's more fun by hand

Jannah-Rae showing Yousef her findings

JR explains to Yousef about the seeds
All the while Yousef stood there watching, unsure of whether he wanted to attempt the same or just observe. He was keenly interested in what his sister was doing and squatted attentively watching her every move and listening as she narrated to him what she was doing and what she was discovering. At one point he found a stick and probed the pumpkin with it but when it came back orange and fuzzy he let it go. His comfort zone is still in need of expansion and he was just content to live the moment through his sister.

Twenty minutes and many seeds later, the pumpkin was finished; JR had removed all the insides, squished the outside and gotten her science lesson in. Deciding not to leave the pumpkin in the  middle of the sidewalk, she returned it back to the patch. She hoped that someone walking by would notice her carved pumpkin and wonder what had happened to it.
The day was getting older and it was almost time to go. Jeff appeared in the distance so we got all cleaned up and ready to leave. Wondering what we had been up to, Jeff looked around. JR pointed at her pumpkin; it had a story to tell. Sitting there on the side, the pumpkin unknowingly had served a great purpose: it had allowed us to soak up some sun, enjoy what nature could be found in the midst of the city and let our curiosity go free. There is a lot to see when you go out to see what there is to see. 
JR, and the fun is complete

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