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2:58 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

Column: Some pumpkins are big, but can they save a life?

And the winner is ... a 2,096 pound pumpkin! That's right, Dear Readers, the voters have weighed in and a man with a small farm in Switzerland is now the world champion of pumpkin growers. He bested last year's California farmer who had a 2,032 pounder. That makes a whole lot of pies!

Do you have what it takes to grow a two-thousand-pound pumpkin? No, I didn't think so. First place in this distinguished contest also comes with a check for about $10,000, which has me thinking that I might try and grow one of those monsters for next year. The question is: how would you go about such an enormous undertaking?

Perhaps the real question that needs answering is: could a pumpkin get that large without being pumped up on steroids? Hey, I hate to be cynical, but when one pumpkin is able to make six thousand pies, you have to wonder. Do pumpkin contests have the same rigorous testing as athletes? Oops, guess I answered my own question. When Olympic champions are confessing to juicing up and are forced to give back medals, how could we ever really know what lurks in the veins of that "plumped-up" pumpkin?

Oh, but I do love to see all those pumpkins (of normal sizes) being proudly displayed around yards and porches this time of year. It is the gentle reminder that Autumn has arrived and Halloween and Thanksgiving will be coming right around the corner. Cooler breezes are in the air and it is time to get out our sweaters and jackets. It's also the season to get out my famous pumpkin cookie recipe, which if we each ate just one a day, we'd be sure to weigh about as much as the "world's largest pumpkin."

I love all things Autumn, so I thought I would make a festive display of about a dozen pumpkins around my driveway and walkway to the front door. I then had to drive into to town and when I came back, I learned a very festive lesson. Javelinas love pumpkins! And they do not only come out at night when tempted with their favorite treat.

As I drive up my quiet lane, I am stunned to see smashed, gooey pumpkins and huge piggies with bright orange faces barely taking notice of me when I pull in the driveway. Hey, stop eating my Autumn decorations! No, that colony of javelinas are in hog heaven! They are having the feast of a lifetime and every single one of my pumpkins are being devoured by this group of intruders. It is one heck of a clean-up nightmare that awaits me!

So much for decorating. But I can still bake! Of course, I was thinking that maybe we need to eat healthy, like the Pilgrims, who would not have indulged in sweets like pumpkin cookies or pies. Those early settlers had no ovens for proper baking. Six months after arriving in America, they had run out of sugar. So they improvised and sliced off the top of a pumpkin, removed the seeds and strings and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. Then the pumpkin was placed on hot ashes to get warm and the "goop" was spooned out into bowls, like pudding. Now that you have the recipe, please try it and let me know how it tastes. I think I will stick to my cookies.

I read that a woman in Christopher Creek had just baked a pumpkin pie and set it on her kitchen counter-top. She went outside to feed the birds, leaving her outside door open. When she went back into the house, a hungry, black bear was standing in her kitchen! The terrified (and clever) woman quickly tossed the bear the pie, which he immediately grabbed and stared at for a moment. Happily, the big beast stuck his face in the pie, grunted loudly and ran out the door with the best dessert he may have ever tasted. The lucky lady now claims her scrumptious pumpkin pie saved her life.

Pumpkins represent all things Autumn and for some, they may even be a "life-saver." For others, an opportunity to grow the giant of all pumpkins. Take a walk on the wild side and make a pie or pudding, bake a cookie, maybe even feed a javalina. Stay safe and look out for bears! Harvest is here.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.