Monday, October 22, 2007

For the Love of Gourd

This weekend, aside from a spot of rain on Saturday, was the perfect example of fall in New England. The sun shone through leaves of gold and auburn; a slight breeze blew along making it just cold enough for a light sweater; the Head of the Charles regatta enticed thousands of otherwise smart students to risk getting dumped in our murky river...and I got in touch with how much I love the humble gourd.

A gourd, for those of you who live in places where they don't appear outside the grocery store every October, is a hollow, dried shell of a fruit in the Cucurbitaceae family of plants of the genus Lagenaria. (Those Latin terms mean, essentially, "Not so good for eating.")

(The Gourds are also a country music group, but I'm not nearly so inclined to see those guys in a decorative pile on my dining room table.)

As I was food shopping yesterday. I passed row upon row of pumpkins, harvest corn trios, and dried stalks to tie on the front porch. I felt a stirring deep inside me, and realized, "I would like a gourd. Or perhaps three or five or twelve to place around the house as a tribute to the glory of fall." I tend to get a little grandiose in my decorating dreams around this time of year, and typically the ridiculousness of my thoughts--i.e. "A tribute to the glory of fall"--is inversely proportionate to the disappointment I'll feel when I realize a small pile of squash-like objects isn't much of a tribute. But hey, it's part of my creative process...

What I love about gourds is that they're bizarre--they look like something you'd find in the dumpster behind Harvard's science lab. People grow them, knowing full well that they have no purpose. The glory of the gourd is that it places almost no expectation on me as a consumer. I can buy one or ten or twenty, and everyone understands that all I'll be doing with them is decorating--I'll place them on shelves, in bowls, artfully tumbling down some stairs, perhaps. Eventually, I'll throw them away. There's no annoying recipe book at the checkout counter pressuring me to MAKE something of my gourds, like a pie or muffins or a tureen for soup. I don't need to crave it into some creepy face that will scare small children. The gourd is complete as is, with no reassembly required. I like that.

The sad thing is, there were no gourds to be had yesterday. All the good gourds ("good" being defined as bright orange or green or yellow, with a nice assortment of weird bumps and bulges) were gone. There were just a few scrubby ones in a anemic shade of yellow-ish, truly pitiful little fruits that failed to live up to the minimal gourd standard of looking interesting enough to take home.

Wandering forlornly back to my car after grabbing coffee and milk and cereal, I found myself singing the Counting Crow's version of that Joni Mitchell song:

Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.
(Ooo, sha la la la...)


Angela WD said...

Oh yeah, fall puts a longing into me to decorate, make soup, stock up the pantry for the long, cold winter. It's like there's still a little pilgrim in me. I have resisted gourds and cornstalks of all varieties this year, though.

Stacy said...

I like to decorate with gourds as well. They're festive without being tacky.

Jen A. Miller said...

Hey Trish! I heart gourds, too!

Thanks for the comments on my answer your questions: I'm not sure where local readings would be. Maybe for the shore? Philadelphia City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly run listings, too (though I'm not sure if that's the answer you're looking for!)

As for the running thing -- ha! I never had to do the band aids on the nipples thing, though I do use a product called "Body Glide" on my thighs so they don't rub raw (I'm not one of those rail thin runners whose legs don't touch). It feels dirty to say (or write) the name of the product, but it's made a big difference in running.

Though the nipples bleeding thing made for a GREAT joke on The Office in the episode about the fun run. I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Thanks for reading!

Beck said...

Gourds! It's a fun word to say.

The Dream said...

"Oh I love that muddy water
Boston, you're my home."

Great read, Trish. FALL rocks, though it's still a bit warmer here than it should be. Come on CHILL! I need to score gourds, pumpkins, and other autumn goodness. Thanks for the motivation.

LEstes65 said...

You realize I am really really wanting to go make you a gourd rooster. Special for the hubby...

I'm bad.

Swishy said...

Most important ... HOW ABOUT THOSE RED SOX?!

L Sass said...

Gourds are my very favorite part of fall. I love how they look, I love their colors and I LOVE the entire gourd food group. Delicious!

heidikins said...

In my other life (read: high school overnight trip chaperone) I was known as a "Gourd Healer"... it's a long involved story with a happy ending. ;o)


Appletini said...

I think gourds are georgeous! It is a sign that Fall is here ;)