Sunday, September 24, 2017

Listening to the Advice of My Pumpkin

Shhhhh....can you hear it?  Evening is fast approaching, the days are getting shorter and the setting sun casts a warm glow across the garden's pumpkin patch.  Take a seat among the trailing green vines that twist and turn with giant leaves and enormous ripened pumpkins of bright orange like that of the end of the day's sun.  If you listen carefully you can catch the gentle whisper and advice of the pumpkin.

Of all the fruits and vegetables, the accomplished pumpkin has the most to say.  Speaking with sound advice, the clever pumpkin tells it like it is.  Sweet and simple.  It doesn't complicate the message, it just offers straight, to-the-point, honest wisdom.  (You never seem to get this up front knowledge from the tomato or the zucchini. )  

The pumpkin's advice, as noted in the above "words-to-live-by" image (compliments of a Facebook posting), does remind me to a "be well-rounded" person, which for me, includes learning about people and other diverse cultures around the world.

It's message to "get plenty of sunshine" and "give thanks for life's bounty" is truly a daily activity. With Fall being the time of harvest, we can truly be grateful for the plentiful bounty that is gathered in buckets ready for canning or freezing.  It is truly a blessing to share this picking with others and an even greater enjoyment to give thanks with guests at winter's meal time. 

The pumpkin with it thick skin has probably been through a few rough times of its own in order to pass along its bit of parental advice to toughen up.  However, under all that thick skin, the pumpkin is just a sweet softy.  Given a little warmth, the pumpkin becomes mush or should I say, puree.  So be strong and stand firm like the pumpkin, but remember to always have a bit of a soft heart. 

The pumpkin's challenge and advice to "keep growing" and "be outstanding in your field" is something the pumpkin is certainly an expert.  At any age and on any day, one can become educated in just about any subject on earth. It starts by asking a question.  It is important to always work to find answers to daily questions of interest. However, we are reminded to particularly concentrate on skills that we are best at and excel in "our own field".   Thus, taking our expertise to the highest level.  A very smart thought coming from the pumpkin, don't you think?

The distinguished pumpkin expresses the need to "think big".  So thought-provoking.  This pumpkin's advice is no ordinary advice.  It is brilliant, imaginative and urges others to think outside the box.

In addition, the pumpkin, regardless of its huge popularity and stardom at Halloween, remains genuine and humble.  Proudly standing firm in windows and lit up as jack-o-lanterns on lawns, the unselfish pumpkin brings both smiles and jitters to trick-or-treaters.   Furthermore, the pumpkin doesn't get a big head over the fact that it is one of the prominent symbols of Autumn.  The pumpkin does what it does best in its field and honorably sits among other Fall decor pieces, such as colored leaves, gourds and Indian corn, to help beautify and decorate homes and landscapes for the Fall season.

Lastly, we can't forget that the big-hearted edible pumpkin gladly obliges us with plenty of its sweet flavor for our culinary needs.  Its surrenders a bit of itself for our sweet and savory foods such as dips, desserts, soups and casseroles.  We can all raise our mugs filled with a pumpkin spice latte, lavish praise and toast to the faithful pumpkin.

What other fruit or vegetable do you know of that would convey such impressive guidance?   Absolutely, the pumpkin stands out from among the other garden produce as the BEST in its teachings. Would you agree?

So to acknowledge and pay tribute to the intellectual pumpkin, I have designed this week's table in honor of this delightful dessert rendering fruit/veggie.  

Who can resist collecting white pumpkins?  Whether the pumpkin is bright orange or a creamy white or even big or small, they all win over my heart.

Using real pumpkins for a centerpiece embellishes the existing natural beauty of these works of art from the patch.

What can you learn from your pumpkins?   Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Celebrating Nature's Diversity

Similar to celebrating the diversity in people and cultures, one can also enjoy and cherish the diversity of nature, particularly in landscapes by visiting different places throughout the US. With a recent visit out west to visit my daughter and her husband, I had the opportunity to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and Steamboat Springs in Colorado, and Mount Rushmore National Monument, Custer State Park and the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

If ever I stood in awe of nature and the wonder of God's creation, it was during this time traveling through such majestic mountain ranges and landscapes.  With each twisting and winding turn, every mountainous scene of the Rockies became more breathtaking than the next.  The Badlands National Park in South Dakota was especially unique as it was intriguing and differed than any of the places I have been before.  It is what I call God's sandbox and it is filled with neutral colored rock formations that produce a rugged, unsettling and yet calming, endless terrain. So much so, that it inspired me to create a tablescape entitled Nature's Diversity that captures such barren serenity and an allure all of its own.  Unlike the countryside of Wisconsin, this dry and uninhabited land exemplifies beauty in simplicity as well.  It is what I aimed for in designing the tablescape to commemorate and reflect this vast and magnificent region.

When I became determined to create a tablescape which reflects this arid wilderness, I started thinking of what elements I could use to mirror it.  Lets see how close I got to the real thing with my choices and to the feel of such a raw, open and very natural landscape.  For me, this extreme, unending space elicits the feeling of boundless and unstoppable ambition and energy.

Hopefully, the use of colors, shapes and textures captured the simplicity and essence of the Badlands National Park.

Neutral colors became important in this tablescape since any other color other than what is in the surroundings of the Badlands would result in something entirely different and would have one coming away wondering how it had anything to do with the national park.  The use of taupe, grey, brown, cream, olive green and buttercup gold were the prominent colors.

Shape and texture was also selected carefully to help replicate as close as possible the rough and jagged formations of each grand and monumental ridge. The closest I could get to achieving this feel was by using multi-colored stones of grey, cream, chestnut brown and black in tall glass pillar candle holders.  The weave pattern in the place mats and in the natural burlap table runner conveys the stark sparseness of this environment.  The primitiveness of the faux stone votive holders appear to have been carved straight from one of these larger rocks.   And, of course, I can't forget the touch of bright yellow color coming from a single stem sunflower growing and thriving in this unadorned soil.

Natural and simple elements such as stone, wood, and burlap along with the tranquil colors, shapes and textures for this tablesetting reinforces the pure, earthy aspects of this uninhibited territory.  

So with all of this being said, you can judge for yourself if I was able to grasp Heaven's splendid and humble playground.