Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Golden Boy died today
Golden Boy joined our family in October 2008. We accompanied our daughter on her preschool field trip to a farm only to discover the dark truth about what really happens on farms. We saw fields upon fields of pumpkins severed from their vines, left out to be sold to strangers or to rot — whichever happened first.
It goes without saying, the kids were in tears. What words can explain it? We promised our daughter we would rescue as many squash as possible that day, as far as the cash in our pockets would allow. The pumpkins came home and found a warm, dry perch atop a baker’s rank overlooking our dinner table.
There would be no pumpkin pie. No baked and salted seeds. No carved jack-o-lanterns. We were caretakers.
The pumpkins had a good run, some semblance of a life observing a family grow around them, an alien experience I’m sure, but better than a moldy, spongy death alone in the mud of winter rains.
By June, all but one pumpkin had left us. The sole survivor would come to be known as Golden Boy.
Eighteen months. A wonderful, thoughtful 18 months we shared together. Then, just before dinner tonight, a white cap caught my eye. It was mold on Golden Boy, from above and below.
We ate our broccoli-ham-cheese omelets in silence. Without anyone saying anything, my now 5-year-old daughter knew what must be done. My dyspraxic 2-year-old son said nothing, but I could see recognition in his eyes.
But then I thought, no, every moment is a teaching moment. I grabbed a pencil and paper and asked my daughter to tell me ten good things about Golden Boy. We would pay tribute to his memory.
After dinner, I told Daughter to dress in black. We would be spending some time in the backyard. Such grim business is not fit for a 2-year-old, so my wife distracted my son with a bath. We told him it was to remove the egg and cheese from his hair.
While my daughter picked out a black witch’s dress, black pirate hat and black boots, I performed a quick autopsy on the kitchen counter. I made a longitudinal incision along his waist and quickly confirmed what we all suspected — internal rot.
…whispy cobwebs of white moldy sorrow.
As much as we had tried to provide for Golden Boy, a life of captivity separated from his vine and extended family was too much for him. His spirit collapsed from within.
Amid the strands of dessicated pulp I made an astonishing discovery. Golden Boy was a girl. Inside her were hundreds of seeds. I quickly scooped them out and put Golden Boy back together before my daughter returned.
We then made our way to the backyard where my daughter dug a grave in a patch of feral grass growing at the far edge of our yard adjacent to our lawn.
After we patted the last bit of soil down, I gave a brief eulogy:
“Golden Boy was a good pumpkin. He was a loving pumpkin, clean and strong for lasting so long. He filled our room with happiness. His orangey goodness lit up the room on rainy days. He made Halloween a better day simply for having been there, and he outlasted the candy. He was a leader, an ambassador among pumpkins, and now he is in the ground where he will help grow new pumpkins we will plant here. Goodbye Golden Boy.”
Tomorrow, I will tell my kids of Golden Boy’s seeds. We will endeavor not to raise just any old pumpkins, but, indeed, Golden Boy’s children. He may yet achieve immortality through his family, providing them nourishment even if they will never know him. I mean her.
See previously: Halloween tradition: pumpkin races
See mysteriously related: The Tenth Good Thing about Barney