I suspect Autumn has a similar connotation for most people in colder climates: colder outside, changes toward winter, it becoming socially acceptable to drink a lot of hot chocolate, delicious nutmeg concoctions coming back in vogue, spoops, and so forth. Here, trees change color, and there's a promise of snow; only half joking, I remind people who complain that people live here for the leaves changing color and for the snow.

While I'm writing, I'm also trying to keep up with Kit's frantic pace of peeling apples. She has to remind me not to absently eat the apple seeds, no matter how good they taste. A very lucky squirrel catches a reject tossed out the window, and picks it up wholesale to climb up the tree.

It's a very traditional moment, except perhaps for the laptop. The black metal on the speakers probably isn't normal either, but music about death and rebirth seems appropriate to me nonetheless.

For many people, this is the beginning of a time of closeness, and family. It is for me as well: most of my family has birthdays this time of year, and of course there's the fuss Americans make mid-November. But there's another holiday in there too.

Around Halloween / Samhain / Día de Muertos / whatever else one calls the end of harvest celebration, I carve pumpkins. It's a special thing - I'm not very good at it, but it's a fun social activity, and there're no constraints to my weirdness.

This year is perhaps less weird, but here it is anyway:


In past years I've put more time into it: last year I made a zombie pumpkin, with two pumpkin hands, and a brain pumpkin. I remember being five years old, and we'd spent all summer growing pumpkins in the garden. Giant pumpkins, and when we cut them open I fit inside. I still have a picture of my head just barely poking out.

And every year, the capstone: a picture, in costume, in front of the artwork.

We carved early this year (last weekend), and it rained heavily. The body of my pumpkin collapsed last night.

This is the first year I can remember where I won't have that picture.

And for some reason I feel just a bit sad about this. It was bound to happen eventually; it's not something that should be significant to me anyway since I'm still going to do both things; I've never really done anything with the picture after the fact (except show off giant pumpkin year, maybe); this wasn't even the most significant part of fall this year for me. I could even take a picture of myself in costume in a week and stitch the pumpkin above into it, if I really want.

Ultimately, I don't think I will. I tend to be markedly iconoclastic at other times, and this isn't about tradition anyway. I think for me it's a convenient representation of effort I expressed in something that I cared about, frivolous though it undoubtedly is for a non-farmer, and frankly it doesn't hurt that it makes something that's easy to show off.

But it's also the case that I wouldn't have been able to write a post about my pumpkin and costume if that were all there was to it. (Maybe if it were a particularly noteworthy pumpkin or costume, sure, but it isn't and it won't be.) So in a way this is better: I have a story, and things to think about. And that's all I really wanted anyway.