I’ll warn you upfront: this will be a difficult fable if you are expecting me to hand you the moral. I’m not sure what it is, myself, but maybe it’ll give you what you need in your writing journey this month.
That said, let me tell you the fable of the green pumpkins. Pumpkins are not easy to come by in northern Japan. You can get them, but you have to look for them. I usually grow my own, and this year, I planted my pumpkins too late. Even though the frost was very late, the poor pumpkins just ran out of time. When the first frost finally rolled around in the middle of October, I was delighted to find that I had about four good-sized pumpkins, even though they were green. I took the biggest two to the porch, because I figured all pumpkins are black in the dark. It probably wouldn’t matter.
I knew they were early, and that they’d not last for a full week. And in the daylight, they were the wrong color. It was OK, though. I think even orange jack-o’-lanterns look a little sad and gutted in the daylight. What mattered was how they looked at night.
And, on the plus side,
they were easy to carve. The seeds came out easily, and I had those puppies whipped into shape in less than 90 minutes, thanks to my favorite tools (a curry spoon and a keyhole saw). I had to do them on Sunday afternoon, because I was afraid they wouldn’t last a full week – also, with the size of the biggest one, there was no way I could give it a bleach bath, and I didn’t want to go through the mess and hassle of fixing up a spray bottle of bleach and water.
For two glorious nights, they glowed! If anything, the candles were the problem; old ones that kept burning out. However, that was easily fixed.
But on October 30th, the little pumpkin began its slow decline into oblivion. It slumped. I do like the way pumpkins get scarier and scarier the closer you get to Halloween. Their faces warp, and sometimes you get creepy mold-inspired colors that make them a real fright. But this wasn’t normal aging – this was a stroke. The entire right side of the face collapsed.
So, for the big night, I had one pumpkin glowing in the dark. It was enough. The brave little trooper lasted all the way to Saturday morning when I could finally cart it to the garden, and even now, it’s probably grinning over the frost-bitten ruin of the compost heap. The little guy put up no fight as I scooped him up with a shovel and deposited him in his final resting place. No scary burst of insects flying out, no last wheeze of rotten pumpkin. Just that poor posture, as by that time, his face had completely caved in.
So, what is the moral of the fable? I can think of several; you can think of some too, and then we’ll let people choose their own adventure.
Fruit plucked too soon never ripens. Ideas can be the same way. If we try to work with something that isn’t ready, it tends to collapse into itself, and never matures properly.
But on the other hand, good enough is good enough. My family enjoyed the pumpkins for several nights, and their cheerful glow was a nice change of pace in the dark night. Should I have left them in the garden, waiting for a perfection that was to never come? No. In the same way, it’s kind of silly to let an idea rot because the situation is not perfect. Why not shape it, and do your best, and have fun with what you’ve made?
And also, this isn’t the last time I’ll make jack-o’-lanterns. Maybe next year, I’ll get them into the ground early. Or I’ll be driving in the country and run across a farmer with about a hundred orange beauties to sell. Live and learn! I think this is a great lesson during NaNoWriMo season, as well. November comes every year. Do what you can with it; remember past successes and know that it’s still good if you are having fun. And, there’s always next year!