October is the undisputed pumpkin month of the year. In fact, 1.5 billion pounds of them are grown annually, most of which are sold in October. Look around. They're everywhere.
I took a few photos and then started digging to find out some interesting facts about pumpkins.
Check out this story by James Groh for WTMJ-TV Milwaukee:
"Mike Schmit nearly set a record for heaviest pumpkin in Wisconsin and would have been on the all-time list for pumpkins grown in the United States. However, his pumpkin cracked. That made him ineligible for any competitions this year, like the 2021 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in California. It pays $9/pound to the winner. That means he could have won $22,680. That's one expensive crack. . . .
At its peak, this nearly record setting pumpkin grew 53 pounds a day and needed about 150 gallons of water per day."
The Libby's Processing Plant in Morton, Illinois is responsible for the vast majority of the canned pumpkin produced in the U.S., which led to Morton being declared the Pumpkin Capital of the World, which also led to their annual Pumpkin Festival.
This company believes you can put pumpkin in just about anything. Seriously. From beverages to pizza to ice cream sandwiches, and here is a link to their recipes to prove it.
The national fruit of the United States (who knew there was such a thing?) is the blueberry, but many people feel it should be the pumpkin.
According to "16 Little Known Pumpkin Facts" by Deborah Tukua for the Farmers' Almanac, pumpkins were once thought to be a remedy for snakebites and freckles. Freckles. :)
Also under the category of "who knew?" -- The fairytale Cinderella was the first time the word pumpkin was used in literature. Before that, they were referred to as pompions. Remember the pumpkin Fairy Godmother turned into a coach so Cinderella could attend Prince Charming's ball?
All of this to say that pumpkins are more than just a decoration for our porches or dining room tables from the start of fall through Thanksgiving.
But let's take the subject of pumpkins a little bit further for the purposes of today's post.
In all of my looking at displays or boxes of pumpkins in all of their various sizes, colors, and varieties, I didn't find a single perfect one. In every case, there was a blemish, a bump, a protusion, an unrounded, slightly out-of-balance form, or a quirk of some kind. Most could be made to look presentable by turning it this way or that, but under intense scrutiny, NONE could be deemed flawless.
A few tried to make up for their imperfections with clever paint or "make up," so to speak. Something on the order of "putting lipstick on a pig."
Another thing to note is that pumpkins don't grow alone. They grow on vines. Seems like I remember some Bible verses about abiding on the vine, don't you? Interestingly, it is a good practice to leave a pumpkin on the vine as long as possible. It will only ripen and change color while it's still attached and growing. Let that sink in for a few minutes. One pumpkin plant will likely produce between two to five pumpkins, while the miniature varieties could produce up to a dozen. Most of the time, you'll see a whole pumpkin patch dotted with orange spheres.
The comparisons are obvious.
Piles of pumpkins vs. Groups of people (in families, in schools, in workplaces, in churches).
Imperfect pumpkins with bumps, blemishes, and cracks vs. Imperfect people with prickly personalities, differing opinions, handicaps, painful physical problems, diseases, hurts, emotional bruises or talents and years of experience.
Painted pumpkins vs. People putting on brave faces and false smiles.
Imperfect pumpkins but still nutritious and delicious in dishes of all sorts vs. Imperfect people capable of performing amazing tasks, making revolutionary discoveries, sharing valuable lessons, enriching lives of others, contributing resources and wisdom.
Maybe you don't like being compared to a pumpkin, but with piles of them everywhere I look, I'd like to remember the value of both imperfect pumpkins and imperfect people. I also want to remember the importance of abiding/growing/thriving on the vine.
(Thank you, Publix, Reeves Farm, and Trader Joe's for the pumpkin models for my photos).
I recently saw this interpretation of 2 Corinthians 12:9 on Instagram, and it makes a lot of sense to me -- "God uses imperfect people. Like you and me. Because His power is made perfect in weakness."
John 15:1-8 -- "I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He trims so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. The branch cannot itself produce fruit, unless it abides on the vine. Likewise, you cannot produce fruit unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and is dried up. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned.
7 “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 In this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.”