Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sacred Harvest

For some reason, I got the urge to plant stuff this spring. I went with tomatoes and pumpkins. Don't even ask the reasoning behind that combination, they're just what looked easy on the seed packets.

It became very clear very early that we would not be eating the tomatoes. The beautiful mama deer who hangs out behind our barn and mingles with the horses at sunset took a liking to the tomatoes and helped herself. I didn't mind, and there were still the pumpkins to harvest late in the summer.

Or at least I thought the pumpkins would be there. The vines started out by bearing a lot of baby green gourds that looked not one bit like pumpkins. That made watching them grow all the more exciting. I couldn't wait to see them shift into pumpkin mode and checked them every day. Then I noticed a few had these little wedges cut out of them. Okay, so those wouldn't make it. But there were still plenty left.

More and more of my pumpkins succumbed to this strange fate, until one day I discovered the culprit. There was a turtle living in the shelter of the vine leaves and he must have been taking a single bite out of whatever pumpkin he happened to be closest to when he felt hungry. What a waste. Well, I couldn't deprive a turtle, which I honestly believe to be my animal spirit guide, so the pumpkins were lost too.

Then this morning, before Starr Ann took off for Jodie's place, she came running to get me, all excited. Seems over the last few weeks when I'd quit checking the vines, three of the pumpkins had not only survived, but gotten to nice sizes and looked about ready to pick! We ran back out together and gathered our harvest.

When I saw those big orange, perfectly shaped pumpkins peeking out from under their leaves, I started jumping up and down, laughing and totally elated over such a surprise. Starr Ann was so happy for me. As I picked them, she commented over how it was a good thing we got to them today, because they had basically fallen off the vine already.

So Starr Ann set out for Jodie's and I went back in to wash my bounty. And guess what I found on the bottom of one of them? A price sticker. I was so mad at Starr Ann, I could have hidden every pair of her chaps. Then I pictured her out there, getting her hands all scratched up on those prickly vines, hiding the pumpkins for me to find.

The whole episode brought back something I hadn't thought about in a long time - the first time Starr Ann and I met.

I had already been at the orphanage about six months when they brought Starr Ann. She was a whole year and a half younger than me, so I was a little over six and she was just under five. Huge disparity. I barely noticed her the first couple of days she was there.

Then one afternoon, I was outside swinging on the tire all by myself, enjoying some time away from the other kids. I saw Starr Ann scraping a stick in the dirt off to one side of our makeshift playground, but I tried to ignore her so she'd go away. There was no way I could have known Starr Ann had never even once in her life ever had another kid to play with. Ever.

It must have been hard for her to get up the nerve, but finally, she threw down her stick, brushed off her hands, and puffed out her little chest.

She walked directly up to my swing and said, "Hello, my name's Starr Ann. I'm fun to play with, and I have no boogers in my nose."

That was what she chose to open with. That's what she'd stood over there and decided would be the best way to recommend herself to me.

I might have been only six, but on some level I knew a sacred beginning when I saw one.

Anyway, the pumpkins look pretty good and I got rid of that sticker. I think I'll suggest that Starr Ann, Jodie and I carve them for jack-o-lanterns in a few weeks.