Posts Tagged ‘jack-o-lantern’

Fall Harvest

Now that the days are sunny, windy, and nippy, with brilliant blue skies and thick, puffy white clouds; the nights frosty; the leaves changing colors and the bugs long dead and gone (yay!),  everyone you meet seems pretty chipper.   Mainers really make the most of this fleeting, wonderful time before winter approaches.  Mainers love their autumn, and with good reason.  They decorate their homes in homage to Fall with pumpkins, Indian corn, gourds, welcome flags with Fall motifs, and autumn-themed tschotckes from the dollar store — and this is before Halloween when decor gets really elaborate.  The farm stands are awash in color:  gourds and pumpkins, apples and cider, and mums and asters.

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Hayrides and corn mazes and pick-your-own apple orchards are everywhere.  Communities have “harvest suppers” in which farms donate their produce to church ladies and Town Halls, and they have meals made of local produce, poultry, and pork that feed hundreds, either free of charge or to raise money for various causes.  Hunters are centering their rifles and shotguns and practically chomping at the bit for deer hunting season to commence.  It is the last hurrah before bad weather and short days set in.

And of course the cider presses are working overtime, squeezing the juice from heirloom cold-hardy apple varieties you’ve likely never heard of:  William’s Pride, Macoun (a common Maine favorite), Beacon, Chestnut Crab, Duchess, Snow, Wealthy, Black Oxford, Fireside, Liberty, Lodi, Milden, Paula Red, Northern Spy, Pristine, Snowsweet, and Wolf River.  Many of the orchards have on-site bakeries where they sell fresh apple cider donuts.  The aroma is intoxicating!

Today I drove past Weston’s Farm in Fryeburg, Maine, where I took all these photos,  and just couldn’t help myself:  I had to buy their appealing selection of pumpkins, squash and gourds.

 

 

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If you’ve never tried Delicata squash, do anything in your power to find some.  You might never eat any other kind of squash (including butternut squash!) again.

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Delicata is the sweetest and most moist of all squash varieties I’ve tried.

 

I just had to buy some pumpkins so I could make some fresh pumpkin pie.  (The variety I bought is meant for pies, versus the type that is meant for carving jack-‘o-lanterns.)

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Pumpkins that are good for carving (and Halloween)

This paler variety of pumpkin is better for pie-making.  The rind is somewhat thinner.

This paler variety of pumpkin is better for pie-making. The rind is somewhat thinner.

There is also ugly blue Hubbard squash which is a old-time favorite in Maine; I hope to try it soon.

There were several types of Hubbard-like squash, which is a sickly blue-grey that resembles the color of mould.

There were several types of Hubbard-like squash, which is a sickly blue-grey that resembles the color of mould.

 

When I saw their wicked pink banana squash I got very excited.

Pink Banana Squash

Pink Banana Squash

I had tried it 2 years ago and loved it, but hadn’t been able to find any since.  It’s not hard to see why:  few people want to buy a squash that weighs between 30 – 40 lbs!  The one I chose weighed 29 lbs.  I’m taking it to my hometown this weekend; I figured its size would delight my grandchildren and then I can split up more manageable portions amongst my daughters and daughters-in-law.

Heavy!

Heavy!

1-2-3, Hoist!  It's so big it hides my head

1-2-3, Hoist! It’s so big it hides my head

I knew my husband would roll his eyes when I came home with this.  But both of us always love the unusual, and once he was convinced it wouldn't go to waste he thought it was pretty neat.

I knew my husband would roll his eyes when I came home with this. But both of us always love the unusual, and once he was convinced it wouldn’t go to waste he thought it was pretty neat.

 

 

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Pumpkin Festival

The Lone Pumpkin and his sidekick, Tonto

The Lone Pumpkin and his sidekick, Tonto

This time of year pumpkins are serious business in the White Mountains.   There are numerous pumpkin festivals throughout Maine and New Hampshire, which include carving contests, pumpkin bowling, and pumpkin catapulting just down the road at Sherman Farm.

The town of Keene NH started its pumpkin festival in 1991 and garnered its first world record with less than 5,000 carved and lit jack-o-lanterns in 1993.  Twenty-two years later the festival is still going strong; this year they took back their place in the Guinness Book of World Records with 30,581 carved and simultaneously  lit pumpkins!  (You can read about it here.)

In Jackson, New Hampshire, the festival is called Return of the Pumpkin People, and it’s been happening since 1988.  Each year an ever-growing number of businesses (this year it was about 75 banks, stores, cafes, etc.) participate in creative, complex, and humorous life-sized dioramas of painted pumpkins (since the festival runs for 3 weeks, they can’t use carved pumpkins due to spoilage, so they paint them.)  The Jackson Chamber of Commerce prints out maps of the pumpkin people locations, and maps in hand, tourists and locals alike walk from exhibit to exhibit throughout the town.  The event attracts thousands of people from all over New England, and brings lots of revenue to shops, B&Bs, and other White Mountain tourist attractions.

Mostly, though, it’s about good old-fashioned fun.

(Click pictures to enlarge to see some of the amazing details!)

At the cafe

Poker Night

Feelin' Groovy  (the VW van play tent was for sale inside the store)

Feelin’ Groovy
(the cool VW van play tent was for sale inside the Ragged Mountain Camping Store that’s behind the diorama)

Tea Party   This was an elaborate diorama that stretched all over this property with many characters from Alice and Wonderland

Tea Party
This was an elaborate diorama that stretched all over this property with many characters from Alice and Wonderland

rabbit

Queen of Hearts:  Off with their head!

Queen of Hearts: Off with their heads!

Alice The swing swayed gently in the wind

Alice
The swing swayed gently in the wind

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

And my favorite . . .

Nascar pit team readies the pumpkin carriage for the race!  Love the pumpkin tech under the carriage!

NASCAR pit team readies the pumpkin carriage for the race.
(Love the pumpkin tech under the carriage!)

(Check out this National Geographic video of pumpkin catapulting filmed in Delaware.)