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Magic in a Green FieldHow can I possibly describe the magic of a pumpkin patch? Without sounding completely loony, that is. It is something truly incredible. I know it, I feel it, deep inside, and my mind knows this to be true, too, but my mind is hopelessly rational and can't stop itself from being clever and analytical and hopelessly un-magic-like.
My mind can describe the pumpkin patch in terms of metaphor, a metaphor I truly believe in, by the way, and this may be as close as I can come to capturing its magic. When the trees and underbrush were bulldozed away I thought the debris-strewn field would forever remain an eyesore behind our house. Sitting in the backyard was officially spoiled. I hated what they had done to our beautiful forest, albeit the owner was technically free to do whatever he wanted to do with his forest, and we were just impotent witnesses barely recognized as neighbors.
But then something miraculous happened. The owner had leased the field to a farmer, who came with his tractor and lots of tractor attachments and with his machines he cleared away the debris and tilled the field. It took a good week, but in the end the scruffy field was transformed into neat little rows of undulating soil - ten football fields of neat little rows, like a fork dragged back and forth across a sandbox. That would have been good enough, but there was more. In another week or so weeds began to appear in neat little rows, too. There was green slicing across the dirty brown field. And they grew and grew larger every morning, almost swelling before our very eyes, and they began to sprout leaves that soon reached the proportion of elephant ears.
This was a plan. We could no longer question that this vigorous green splendor was the work of our mysterious farmer-lessee. Something had been deliberately planted back there - but what? This became the focus of our new obsession: what had that farmer sown? And how did he get it to grow so fast? Within a month of the arrival of the machines of destruction, our forest was replaced by a solid sea of waving green. Life had returned once more, irrepressible life. Even the sides of the field were surging sunward with irrepressible life, though this time the new growth were truly weeds, with occasional sunflowers and cannabis somehow added to the mix. Stubborn, amazing life!
Maybe a week later, just five weeks after the field had been razed, we walked out in the morning to find the green sward dotted with orange flowers. This was just getting better and better. They were not there the evening before. This I can attest to, because we walk the path that once flanked the forest every evening and morning with our dog. Hundreds, no, thousands of big and beautiful saffron-colored flowers dotted the entire field, and they literally appeared overnight. But what - what - were they? We had to know.
It wasn't just us who were wondering what had been sown in the field behind our house. Our neighbors were watching and wondering, too. We had guessed that some sort of gourd was going to grow there, probably pumpkins. And our neighbors had all their party guests go out into the field to guess what was growing there, and their conclusion was that we would one day see pumpkins growing in the field. With the arrival of the orange flowers I had something definitive to research. And sure enough, Wikipedia confirmed it. Look up "pumpkin" and you will see the big, orange flower of a pumpkin plant.
Two weeks later we noticed our first gourd. And again, a little further along the path. And again here, and over there and - yes, there was another next to that one, too! They were suddenly popping out all over. To us it seemed sudden, but they may have begun to sprout a few days earlier, because a few days later we discovered a fully developed pumpkin, and it was huge. It was so large I couldn't lift it, still a deep green, but undoubtedly a pumpkin, hiding under the leaves in the row closest to the path. We must have simply missed it in our earlier walks. But it did give one the chill we once felt watching the seed pods grow in the movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." New pumpkins were on their way!
The pumpkin patch is living magic. It is a daily discovery. It is a metaphor for change, for life, for hope in the face of disaster. We feel we give our energy to the field, to help it grow, and the field in turn helps us grow, too. It is dear to our hearts, with no need to wonder why. I had quit my job a few days before the big tree-chewing machines arrived to wreck havoc of our forest. I was home during the day to watch them do it. If horror filled my heart, it was not the job-search that put it there. I mourned the loss of life. And celebrate the renewal.
And the reminder that irrepressible life follows destruction goes far beyond my hunt for better employment. A very dear relation suddenly passed away not long ago, and here in a field of green we see confirmation that change comes swiftly and surely with the passage of days. From nothing, from molecules of carbon and water and sun energy, comes all this fibrous matter, and more is coming. It is all so alive! A plan we cannot see is directing the fulfillment of a seed's destiny, multiplied by the field, and then by the world, and on into the universe, everything spinning and shining and expanding. We came from that, and will go back to that. Just because it's science doesn't mean it's not magic, too. We are all part of that magic, with every pumpkin and baby born. Wonderful. Magical.