It all started in a pumpkin field

Submitted by Kay Helbling


Look at the big moon daddy! I remember my sister saying those words as the brilliant orange harvest moon hung in the sky over our North Dakota farm. It was fall, and fall was all around us—trees turning color and pumpkins being harvested. Those harvest moons come pretty rarely in Oregon, but the excitement of the harvest season never fails us.


Gathering the pumpkins and making the jack-o-lanterns knows no age boundaries. When our boys were too young to walk, we carted them around in a wheelbarrow or on dad’s shoulders as we searched for the perfect pumpkin. When they could walk, their measure of the perfect pumpkin was determined by its size, the bigger the better. As they reached school age, it was the pumpkin with the oddest shape that could be turned into some strange creature. Finally, as they entered high school they understood the advantages of the perfect size and shape, laying the canvas for true art.


Then it came to carving time. Initially, all they could do was squeal at the feeling of the slimy core and giggle as they’d squirt the seeds through their little fingers. Before we felt comfortable with a knife or a cutting tool, we decided a face painted pumpkin would do just fine. As they grew older it became an annual event of friends over for a pumpkin carving contest—lining all the glowing creatures and features along the front of the lawn for everyone to admire.


As they reached high school age, we had to do our civic duty. With voting day just around the corner we did our best to represent each candidate…pumpkin style. The electors would be the goblins, angels, batmen and fairies that came to the door for a treat. In exchange for a vote, they’d receive not only a candy but a packaged surprise of their choice. We probably violated all the campaign finance rules, but it was fun none the less, or you could say… “Hillary—ous”!


And to think, it all started with a bright orange moon and a little girl on her daddy’s lap.


Kay was an insurance adjuster and executive for 15 years, a small business owner and a teacher for 10. But, her most fulfilling work has been as a mother of her two boys. She is now looking forward to an empty nest this fall with her best friend—her husband.

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