Pumpkin picking message: “I got this”

Suzette Standring
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When my inner world gets crowded with hobgoblins (and they’re coming in from all sides these days), I know that, just like the season, this, too, will pass.  Meanwhile, be a positive force for others. Create present good. Go pumpkin picking.  We need a mental health break.

At a U-pick farm, we march into orange dotted fields, a little red wagon in tow. Our three generations of family and two close friends are masked among other strangers, and for once, (distanced) pods of people are of one mind: sizing up pumpkins for fall traditions.

Above, skies break silver and blue, a breeze cools our foreheads as we inspect potential prizes.  Stepping through the patch, I marvel at how fat orange specimens grow from slim stalks.

This adds another layer of memories to our collections. My David brings the little wagon to granddaughters Bella and Lulu, now teenagers, who stand at spots where pumpkins need loading.  I recall their pre-schooler days when they bumpily rode over furrows.

“Hey, kids, remember when you could ride in the wagon together?  How about if you pull me back to the car later?”

They laugh, both of them much taller than I am.  Our granddaughters are encircled by love and protection, just like the children of families scouting nearby.

It doesn’t take much for my thoughts to veer into a bad neighborhood. What kind of world will they grow into? Will compassion and reason have a part in national policy?  In 20 years, will all these children have enough clean water to drink?

I scan the skies for reassurance.

Nearby lighthearted chatter brings me back.  Our pumpkin fields are flanked by others full of raspberries, kale and Swiss chard. We are together.  We are healthy.

Autumn’s panorama makes me wish I was a master painter so I could capture such beauty. Instead, I sense capturing a message.

“I got this” it seems to say.

“Trust me, I’ve got the long view,” it says.

“Do what you’re doing.  Encourage. Love. Sustain others.”

This is what I intuit.

There is a line from Isaiah 50:4:  “He wakens me morning by morning, awakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”

But inflexible certitude makes us deaf to a way out of our troubles.

I, like you, have much to learn. Kids learn discipline and focus as they struggle with on-line classes. Parents learn patience and better communication. We learn to be responsible for our health. We learn the preciousness of family and friendships.  We have a front row seat to how fragile our Earth is due to wildfires, deforestation, animal extinction, and the poisoning of our oceans.  By seeming chance and fate, we are herded, perhaps reluctant and resentful, into a collective classroom. On the blackboard in large print, “You reap as you sow.”

Meanwhile, a wagon full of pumpkins reminds me that the present moment is a good place to be, even as harvest time signals change.

This column ran in The Patriot Ledger and through GateHouse Media on Oct. 1, 2020.