(*No, the title is not a reference to our president.)
I’m going to be crotchety today. Since Halloween is on the horizon I thought I would post about kids and jack o’ lantern carving (with super-cute photos, if you don’t mind seeing kids with knives, which I don’t), but then that seemed too “ordinary” so I thought I’d do a little research on giant pumpkins.
What I discovered is how much the idea of “giant pumpkins” has changed in recent history. It used to be, if a baby could fit inside of a pumpkin, that was one big pumpkin! Now the pumpkins have to be picked up by forklifts to qualify as giants. Now, at pumpkin competitions, the pumpkins lie there like beached whales looking all flat, deflated, and, to me, forlorn.
I think it’s gone too far.
Sometimes when I’m at the gym, I see that “My 600-lb. Life” is airing on a few of the dozen TV monitors. (Yesterday, it was “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.” Hmmm. I sense a theme.) When I see “My 600-lb. Life” playing, I feel a little heartsick. Some days (most days?) it seems that our whole society has turned into a freak show. Affliction as entertainment.
Maybe it’s crochety-ness, but I thought of “My 600-lb Life” when I saw these pumpkins–and I can’t help seeing them as another affliction. They make me think of the madness of over-competitiveness and about obsessions, especially obsessions with all that is
But mostly, with these pumpkins, I thought, Where does it end?
Last year the largest pumpkin in the world (grown in Germany) was 2,624.6 pounds. Congratulations go to Mathia Willemijn, the prize-winner, who seems to wear a very satisfied look that says (to me, anyway), “Look at me, I am the KING of pumpkins!”
I blame Howard Dill, in part. Dill’s famous ‘Atlantic Giant’ seeds are what really got the super-sized pumpkin competitions going. Dill patented his seeds after breaking a world’s record in 1981 for a pumpkin that weighed 493.5 pounds (rather petite by today’s standards). I found it interesting to note in the description of the seeds for sale: “These pumpkins aren’t suitable for much but novelty, though some do attempt to carve them, they make a spectacular and fun addition to any garden (if you have enough space)!”
Aren’t suitable for much. As a gardener, I always think of the water it takes to grow one of these monsters. (Yes, another bah-humbug! Apologies to all of you who love the idea of giant pumpkins.)
As to,”Where does it end?”–more research took me to a Smithsonian article where I learned that the potential for size (for a round pumpkin) is 20,000 lbs. You read that right, twenty thousand pounds. The article also explores one grower’s desire to mess with the DNA to go even bigger.
Now that’s scary!
Here are some, IMHO, ugly giant pumpkins for your contemplation, all found through Wikimedia Commons.
(If you have some thoughts on this issue, I’d love to hear them in the Comments!)
After posting the photos above, I discovered that David Politzer was not a farmer (as I had assumed after finding the first photograph) or simply a man obsessed with giant pumpkins who takes great photographs.
Nope. David V. Politzer is an artist in Houston, Texas, a photographer obsessed (for a while, anyway) with the monsters. I agree with critic Kelly Klaasmeyer, who describes Politizer’s photographs as capturing “views of ‘nature’ that are decidedly unnatural.”
I love it.
My daughter Lily, who just read this post, thinks I am a party pooper. She also argues that pumpkins-as-monsters is fitting for Halloween!
I guess it depends on your point of view.
I hope you all have a fabulous “Pumpkin Day”/Happy Halloween on the 31st.