Special to The Windham Eagle
My son wanted to know why there was a pumpkin on our front porch when he got home from school last Friday. It was a fair question, since it was November, and there hadn’t been any type of fruit there before Halloween.
The short answer was that I had put it there. But how and why it had arrived was a more entertaining saga, which began when a friend and I met for a hike at 4:30 last Thursday on a brisk, sunny afternoon. Nothing remarkable was posted on the sign at the start of the trail, aside from a caution strongly advising hikers to wear bright clothing during hunting season.
A quick aside: I am exceptionally knowledgeable about certain things. I can list all 45 American presidents (in order), identify any of the 50 state (or 10 Canadian provincial) capitals, and recite the entire roster of the 1969 New York Mets from memory.
However, there is also a myriad of topics about which I possess an astounding lack of enlightenment. Ballet, botany, astrophysics, Paraguay’s economy, and stupid reality TV shows (or as some people say, “reality TV shows”) are just the tip of my personal ignorance iceberg. But as we began our idyllic stroll through southern Maine’s sylvan loveliness last Thursday my most relevant dearth of knowledge was this: I didn’t know when exactly “hunting season” was.
It turns out it’s now.
Blissfully unaware, my friend and I walked the length of the path, which concluded in a lovely meadow. As the sun began setting we found ourselves going up a gentle hill that soon morphed into what clearly had been, until not long ago, acreage where acorn squash and pumpkins were being cultivated. The field had recently been plowed under, leaving a few surviving gourds which had, for one reason or another, gone unharvested by their grower.
At this point we saw in the distance some buildings I recognized as fronting on Route One. Agreeing that walking down a busy road with our backs to traffic during what passes for Maine’s afternoon rush hour was a poor option, we headed back toward the trail we had come in on when we heard a faraway voice shouting at what we quickly realized was us. While we weren’t able to discern the lone yeller’s every word, the phrases, “hunting season” and “orange clothing” were coming through loud and clear.
Like many Mainers, I possess several blaze-orange vests. However, unlike those folks who plan ahead mine were at home, and not available when I quite obviously needed them. And just to complete the scenario, as we were attempting (mostly unsuccessfully) to communicate with the person in the distance who was cautioning us against heading back into the woods at dusk, a young man clad in (among other things) an orange hat and an orange vest walked across the path we were about to return on. He was carrying a very large firearm. A friendly sort, he advised us there was another shotgun-toter not far behind him, one with two dogs in tow.
Daylight was ebbing, and so were our viable options. Neither my companion nor I had any orange clothing, so what to do?
Answer: find the brightest, most orange available object. Carefully selecting the two most flawless pumpkins we could lift, we started our return walk energetically, displaying our gourds prominently as we hiked vigorously back to our point of origin.
The happy ending: my comrade and I arrived safely back at the parking lot, and without a single ammunition-sized hole in our respective pumpkins.
Or, fortunately, in ourselves. <