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A large, unforgettable pumpkin
JANES HAPPY CRITTERS could care less whether its Thanksgiving or Hal-loween. They are just ex-cited to get big, generous treats to share, thanks to friends who are willing to donate and help with pumpkins large and small.

VIOLA - I’m not crazy about Halloween or Thanksgiving, but I love pumpkins! I’ve become obsessed with pumpkins ever since Louisa, my pet pig, came to live with me.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and pumpkins go together like apples, caramel, and chopped peanuts. The good news is pumpkins carryover from late October through Thanksgiving weekend, both as decorations and for making pie. That’s lucky for me and even luckier for Louisa, the great pumpkin eater. 

As I was leaving a class the other night, my friend David asked for a ride home. He mentioned he had walked there earlier and spotted a curb full of various pumpkins and gourds. Acting as my co-pilot, he guided me to the huge stash of frozen pumpkins. We hopped out and worked in tandem to load up the back seat of my car. David manhandled the bigger ones, while I focused on the small pie pumpkins. Working with David made it a quick and easy pumpkin expedition—unlike the one I’d had the day before.

During our workout, Sara had told me, “I have a pumpkin for Louisa in my car.” I responded, “Thanks, we’ll get it after class.”

As we walked to Sara’s car she casually mentioned, “It’s big.” I didn’t give it much thought because I was already thinking of my upcoming commute to Richland Center. Sara added that her husband, John, had worried we wouldn't be able to lift it into my vehicle. She’d told him not to worry, though, because “Jane can do man push-ups, like, all day long.” That got my attention, and my eyes did a double-roll.

I became concerned when Sara moved her car behind mine and lifted her hatchback. The pumpkin was bigger than both of us.

“Holy crud!”

“We can lift it together,” she assured me.

“Okay, like this,” and I held my hands out toward her.



Nothing happened. This was one big mother lode of a pumpkin and together we could barely get our arms around its circumference.

We kept struggling, and right about the second when we finally got the monster out of the back of her car, I started to get the giggles. They got worse as we tried to maneuver our hands toward each other with the pumpkin between us.

My laughter had its usual effect: “Uh-oh, my bladder is losing it.”

“Here, take this Kleenex.” And as I did, I just about died laughing as we both squatted, lowering the huge pumpkin to the ground between us before it fell.

“Darn, now we need to pick it up off the ground. Remember to use your legs, not your back,” I reminded her. “One, two, lift!”

Miraculously, we raised the pumpkin off the ground to hip height. Sara looked at me across the ocean of orange and said, “Sheez, you’re not as strong as I thought.” That sent me into a new fit of laughter. Apparently my bladder isn’t strong either. Down went the pumpkin!

Sara looked perplexed.

After more wrestling, laughing, and nonsense, the pumpkin ended up in my back seat on the driver’s side. Walking away, Sara cautioned me, “Be careful.” I climbed into my car, answering, “No kidding—if I stop fast I’ll get killed by yourpumpkin.”

Hours later, driving home after my long workday, I passed through a construction zone. Braking for the crew, I thought, “Sweet geezus on a Triscuit, what the heck was that?!” as my body pitched forward, my forehead hitting the steering wheel. 

Snap! It was Sara’s humongous bumpy pumpkin for Louisa. The construction guy holding the stop sign glared at me, as I started chuckling once I realized my back wasn’t broken. The rest of my drive home was uneventful. I even managed to forget about my pumpkin passenger.

A while later, in my driveway, with my coat off and my forehead glistening, I was leaning in from the passenger-side door, trying every which way to dislodge the great pumpkin that was smushed between the backseat and the front. I tried using my foot, both hands, both feet, a shovel, and lastly a rope. The pumpkin didn’t budge. I looked like I was auditioning for a deranged backseat ballet performance. My shirt was soaked and sticking to me.

Louisa was grunting hungrily, Téte was running around the car barking her concern, and I was cussing. I ran into the house, grabbed a banana and an apple, and brought them to Louisa, promising that when Dane got home she’d get one humongous surprise.

Then, I sat on the couch to wait for Dane, and Téte and Finn joined me. I absently petted one dog, then the other, as I processed the day’s events. A laugh formed low in my belly, started climbing, and exploded in a roar that startled both dogs. 

Sometimes, life can be crazily perfect in a not so obvious way. Sara’s pumpkin for Louisa will be the pumpkin I never forget, long after the holidays are over.