Saturday, 10 October 2009

On Seeing Cucurbits

Pumpkin, squashes and gourds are one (or three?) of my favourite autumn aspects. Their colours and shapes would, I think, enamour me of them anyway, even without their heart tie.

The displays at West Dean, and later at a small specialist grower of what, thanks to Kew Gardens website, I now know are members of the cucurbit family, produce this odd splitting sensation. On one level, I am admiring the composition of the piles of produce, noting the differences in texture and colours, knowing that under hand their skins will be a mixture of smooth coolness punctuated with gnarled scars.

On another, I am back in my grandfather’s small holding, perusing the lines of that season’s fantastically shaped squashes in the honeyed late summer sun, their appearance over the summer quite magical; then admiring them, piled up in his shop, inviting to be touched or carried home and drawn in oil pastel; then using a giant almost white squash as a seat, no longer finding Cinderella’s coach outlandish.

Even in these photos I see two things, maybe three things: the photo, it’s contrasts and colours; the now memory of photographing them experiencing past and present at the same time; and hovering behind it all photographs of my childhood memories, fading slightly and fingered at the edges but solid even in intangibility.


  1. I like the photos but the memories are even better!

  2. Your memory is magical, and the experience is beautifully told.

  3. Pumpkins everywhere just now. I've just come from visiting New England Girl's blog, and of course there are plenty of pumpkins there.
    These knobbly ones are gorgeous.
    And what a beautiful description of our childhood memories - that's exactly how they feel.

  4. Awesome... like the comment a few back, the photos are awesome, but the memories are even better. It made me feel like I was back in Vermont when I was little and how magical October and the transition into fall always seemed.

  5. My response to squash, nowadays, is 'oh no, not more squash!' - not their photos, I hasten to add . . . but eating them. One plant produces so many! Could eat summer squash for ever but the autumn ones are a bit dense and I tire of them after a while. (Though they're better than pumpkins.) (Now I'd better duck!)


    P.S. I've been posting at 3c but now the summer is over, I'll mostly be visiting from my usual blog, PICTURES JUST PICTURES instead.

  6. When growing up, my part of the family veggie garden always had a gourd and a pumpkin plant growing (and 'Indian corn'). It was my responsibility to grow the weird stuff. ;-)

    It's Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend and I have a pumpkin pie waiting for me and now I'm craving it like crazy! [drools]

  7. Great photo, btw! I love the close-up-ness of them. :-)

  8. Guess it must really be autumn now, am seeing pumpkins everywhere... err, cucurbits ? Sounds vaguely titillating, like the reading a novel and enjoying the cucurbits...

  9. these are wonderful shots... and yes the word cucurbits is a new one on me too!! Thanks

  10. Owen - well imagine spending all day fondling and photographing them! ;)
    I'm glad my experience made sense to you all, I actually considered whether or not I should post it as I thought it might sound me a bit crazy (well, if the proverbial boat hasn't already done it's bit!).