“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.”
— Linus in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” 1966
I started watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” when I was a preschooler, and for many years I admired Linus for his steadfast devotion to the Great Pumpkin even though he was ridiculed by all of his friends (except for Sally Brown, who was steadfastly devoted to Linus). Linus was a great role model for his ability to resist peer pressure.
However, now that I’m older and more cynical, I think Linus made a series of poor choices by waiting all Halloween night in a pumpkin patch. First, he put himself at harm’s risk by hanging out alone in a field at night. Second, perhaps Linus was just lazy, hoping the Great Pumpkin would deliver treats to him so he wouldn’t have to walk around the neighborhood and ring doorbells for treats like all the other kids.
Third, while Linus was busy looking up at the sky for the Great Pumpkin to appear, he failed to notice all of the great pumpkins that surrounded him — a classic example of someone who wants what he doesn’t have and doesn’t appreciate what he has.
Granted, the pumpkins in Linus’s patch may have been “sincere,” but they were all standard-issue pumpkins — orange and round. Today, there are pumpkins aplenty to choose from in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and textures.
Here are some of my favorite kinds of pumpkins. What’s on your doorstep?
Jarrahdale - This is an heirloom pumpkin from Australia. It has light blue-gray skin and golden yellow flesh that some say makes the best pumpkin pies. It has deep ribs and a flattened top.
Blue Lakota - This is a blue-green heirloom pumpkin from the Midwest. It has slight ribbing and is cone-shaped on top. There are also striking red Lakotas with green and black markings.
Valenciano - These ghostly white-skinned pumpkins sometimes have a tan or blue cast. They are squat-shaped with deep ribbing.
Casper - This is a rounder, brighter white pumpkin with slight ribbing. It contrasts beautifully with vivid-colored pumpkins.
Baby Boo - A bright white miniature pumpkin, Baby Boos are not edible but they make great decorations that keep for a long time.
Cinderella - I like the French name for this pumpkin, Rouge Vif d’Etampes, which means “vivid red.” Introduced in the U.S. in 1883, Cinderella pumpkins have deep ribs and a flattened look. They don’t make a good carving pumpkin, but they are great for décor and pies.
Fairytale - This is another French heirloom pumpkin. It’s dark green when young, but turns a beigey-orange color as it ripens. Its shape is similar to the Cinderellas.
Long Island Cheese - This is an heirloom pumpkin from the 19th century, so named because the pale orange-yellow skin and flattened top looks like a wheel of cheese. They have slight ribbing and deep orange flesh.
Porcelain Doll - These square-shaped pumpkins are pink like the faces of a porcelain doll. They have deep ribs and orange flesh.
Red Warty Thing - What’s Halloween without a witchy-looking pumpkin? These oblong heirlooms were introduced as “Victor” in 1897, but don’t be fooled by the creepy warts on their thick, reddish-orange skin. The flesh inside is finely textured with delicious flavor.
Knucklehead - This is another warty pumpkin, slightly elongated, with deep orange skin. The blisters range from dark green to orange, making this a great pumpkin for ghoulish jack-o’-lanterns.
Brode Galeux d’Eysines - Yet another warty heirloom pumpkin from France, the name translates to “embroidered with warts from Eysines.” It has salmon-pink skin and is covered with tan bumps. The flesh inside is stringless and creamy tasting, which is why it’s a popular pumpkin for making soup.
One Too Many - These mid-sized to large pumpkins have white skin webbed with reddish-orange veins that look like a blood-shot eyeball (hence the name). Their shape varies from round to oblong.
Wee-Be-Little - This rounded pumpkin has smooth orange skin and no ribbing. They are decorative and edible.
Tiger - A miniature pumpkin with pronounced ribbing at the top, Tigers are yellowish with mottled orange stripes.
Pump Ke Mon - This is another miniature pumpkin with an off-white base and stripes of yellow, orange and green and light ribs.
Munchkin - A bright orange miniature pumpkin with a flat top and deep ribbing. Munchkins are great for fall decorations but aren’t edible.
Baby Pam Sugar Pie - With smooth, thin skin and sweet, finely textured flesh, these small orange pumpkins are becoming popular for baking.
New England Pie - This heirloom pumpkin is considered the king of pie pumpkins. It’s small like other sugar pumpkins, with orange skin, sweet, dark flesh and lots of seeds for roasting.
Howden - These are the most popular commercially grown pumpkins for carving jack-o’-lanterns. Howdens are larger pumpkins with deep orange skin and light ribbing. They grow in a variety of shapes, from round to pear-shaped.
Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, teacher and writer. Email her at Rnowak39@gmail.com. For more about gardening, visit her blog at http://blogs.esouthernoregon.com/theliterarygardener/.