This fall, one of the strategies I invented against the economic crisis was to scavenge pumpkins. The week after Halloween, people were as glad to get rid of them as my chickens were to eat them. Last week, however, when everything froze up, I noticed that it was taking the chickens a lot longer to eat their pumpkin. It must have hurt their beaks to bang them over and over into that block of orange ice.
Still, when a friend offered her leftover pumpkins, I could not turn them down. They were beautiful pumpkins, bright orange, and not a mark on them. And they were frozen solid. Driving home, I considered the situation. If I put the frozen pumpkins in the chicken house, the hens wouldn\’t touch them. Then a thaw would come, the pumpkins would get squishy, and the chickens might eat one or two before everything froze again, or the pumpkins rotted. A shameful waste of pumpkins, either way.
I took the five pumpkins in the house and put them on the kitchen counter to defrost overnight. What would I find in the morning? Would the pumpkins deliquesce like Dali watches? Would they explode and spatter everything with juice and seeds?
Next morning the pumpkins still sat, orange and intact, on my blue counter. They were not rotten or moldy or icky in anyway–just a bit soft. No way was I going to throw them on the compost. They were food, filled with vitamins and calories, and somebody—the chickens or the dogs—would benefit from them. But I would have to cook them.
I took a deep breath, sharpened my Chinese chopper, and set my big stock pot on the stove. I chopped the five pumpkins–saving the seeds for the chickens–and steamed them (this took a long time). When they were done, I cooled them and strained them and stuffed them into sixteen quart-sized jars, which I wedged into our overflowing freezer. Then I scrubbed the stock pot in the sink and wiped my brow.
There, I said, that\’s done! Waste not, want not. That will show AIG and those other malefactors….
But wait. Waste not? How many hours had I spent trying not to waste the five pumpkins? How much of my unique spirit and creative energy had gone into those sixteen jars? “An expense of spirit in a waste of shame,” Shakespeare wrote. He was talking about lust. I am talking about pumpkins. Still, if we\’re talking economics here, the expense of spirit has definitely got to be accounted for.