I don't care for pumpkin spice.  Curried pumpkin soup?  Great - as long as it's savory/spicy, I'm in.  Pumpkin pie?  If it's the only choice, OK - but typically, nah.

I don't even carve a pumpkin for Halloween these days, though I do enjoy looking at the weirdo varieties available.

But I was thinking about pumpkins today.  Back when I worked with UL, we had a volunteer gig set up with the Nashville Rescue Mission.  We'd go serve food there fairly often - dinner time.

I liked the effort, it was easy, pleasant, and near my house.  I probably did it four times.  The best time was right after Halloween.  It was early November, and they had, as part of the meal, the massive slabs of pumpkin that had been steamed, and were buttered (margarined?), salt and peppered, and placed precariously on the tray.  

Like this, but pumpkin, and I had on real clothes.

One of the local patches had tons of leftover pumpkins, gave them to Nashville Rescue Mission, and they became dinner.  After that, carving a pumpkin that would just rot into mush seemed wasteful.  And honestly, those slabs of steamed pumpkin looked awesome.  Watermelon, in season, was another one they got slabs of.

The thing is, it was all men - and you couldn't imagine what you would see.  Sure, there were your basic hard living dudes down on their luck - but you'd see the occasional guy who clearly came from a job - clean, basic khakis and polo who just needed food - maybe it was the end of the month, or maybe their food budget went to a car repair that week.  I don't know.  I don't care.  Every last one of them was happy to see us.

I always went home not especially hungry.  It was a good experience .  A lot of these guys were living at the mission, trying to get it together - and plenty of them did.  There were nights we would feed thousands.

We.  Basically, I put slabs of pumpkin on trays. Or watermelon, or day old doughnuts.

I showed up, I put things on trays. I went home.

It did totally change the way I look at pumpkins.

Now, gourds?  Can we just agree they're squash with an STD?


Christopher said…
Your experiences at the Mission remind me of working with a program that gave homeless men a shower, a meal, and a place to sleep in the winter. One night a young guy started talking about the troubles he'd had. An older guy yelled at him that he was young and healthy and had no excuses. The young guy just quietly said, "I guess he's right," and shut down, which was sad. I don't think it was a fair judgment of the young guy's circumstances.
Anyway calling it "pumpkin spice" seems misleading when it's spices added to pumpkin, not made from pumpkin. And I didn't think gourds were good for anything except birdhouses.