Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Never Enough Pumpkins

Our final days in Maine are a celebration of the season: bittersweet, rose hips, and a small pumpkin amidst the candles.

Never enough pumpkins.

Early one morning, as we drove into Damariscotta, the traffic was backed up from lower Main St. to the church on the corner of the Bristol Road. We grumped about it. What? A traffic jam in October? Then we realized that the forklifts were moving the giant pumpkins into their places along Main St. Perched every few feet on a raised platform, the pumpkins would hold court over our small town until after Halloween. 

That evening artists converged on Main St. and began painting and carving into the 400 to 600 pound beauties. It was cause for a big community walk-by and enjoyment. By the Saturday of Pumpkin Fest, thousands of visitors surged into town to photograph the giants both night and day.

Artist Debra Arter carves honeycombs into this giant. See Winnie the Pooh going in for the gold? Debra also entered the pumpkin dessert contest and won 2nd place. She baked the smooth and snappy pumpkin cheesecake. It made my tastebuds sing.

A wise old owl outside of Sproul's furniture store beside the bridge.

Some pumpkins became lovely canvases.

This pumpkin reminded me of a moon cameo. This is outside Fernald's Country Store.

The children loved this one.

Outside King Eider's Pub (right next to Comfort Found)

Outside Weatherbird.

I didn't quite understand this one, but the kids loved it.

Yep, it's a pumpkin in fish clothing.

 Cinderella's coach.

Paco's Taco's built this saguarro pumpkin-cactus.

The "stringle-crested harposaurus" was done by Fred Gosbee of Castle Bay fame.

A tapestry of fish outside The River Grill.

A chef's dream pumpkin.

Outside Darling & DeLisle's gallery (below Comfort Found) sat this immense forest scene with birds. You can't see the small holes pierced through the skin, but at night it is lit from within and the tiny openings look like twinkling stars.

On the steps of our beloved Skidompha Library.

The Pumpkin Dessert Contest

 I was asked to be a judge of the Pumpkin Fest dessert contest, which is held on the Saturday of the parade. I sat on the bench with two true judges of the courts, who have discriminating palates and a good sense of humor-unless you've broken the law.

We had 14 delectable entries in the contest and awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes, each with a monetary prize and a trophy.

This fantastic pumpkin-maple cake stole the show.

Judge Atwood asked that I be removed from the bench because I was trying "to influence the judging." Not true, the consistency of the dessert just got to me. 

We're taking things VERY seriously.

The winning trio. 

The judging was tough, but presentation, taste, and originality all played into the final decisions.

Darn it, I'd love to give you the recipes, but after examining them we were required to turn them back into the committee. Evidently some of the recipes are secret. and the creators did not want to share them. Sorry.

The Pumpkin Parade

Saturday's parade was HUGE. We positioned ourselves on the bridge between Damariscotta and Newcastle and caught the parade at its beginning. We laughed so much during this and reveled in the small town pleasure.

The puffin pumpkin boat is prepared for the regatta on Sunday morning.

Two more regatta entries.

The pumpkin contest spawned some monsters.

This was the winner of the contest and was grown by Ed Pierpont. This broke the Maine state record and weighed in at 1,471 pounds. Later in the day Ed cut it in half, distributed seeds to next year's growers, and turned the half pumpkin into a boat for the regatta. I believe Ed won $10,000.00 for this behemoth. 

Looks like nothing but bubbles and water?? Yep, it did look like this and it was the scene of the underwater pumpkin carving contest. Hundreds packed the shore to watch this...hundreds got bored and left. We stuck it out and saw the victors emerge from the depths.

Part of living in a small town is getting to know all the people and their pets. This is Raymond and he belongs to my friend Mary. Every afternoon Raymond and Mary walk to Waltz Rexall Drugs on Main St. (which still has its original 1940s soda fountain) and Mary tells Raymond to chatter his teeth-he is doing that in the photo. Then Raymond is presented a dog cookie from behind the counter.

Our canoe is inside, our hammock is rolled up for the season, our rugs are stowed, the pumpkins have all been taken to my friend Marilyn's house, and the shutters now cover the windows. I can't believe we won't step back inside our dear cottage until next May, but if the fates allow, we'll be back then and until then we'll dream of our beloved seaside haven.


Anonymous said...

OH SHARON LOVEJOY! I just love you! I have all of your books and reference them frequently for inspiration! I am so thrilled you have a blog for even more inspiration! I hope you don't mind that I have you on my blog roll and I have referenced your book! You are such a whimsical woman!

Marigold Jam said...

Wow! It all makes the pumpkins we see over here look a bit tame! I never realised you could do so much with a pumpkin - you certainly learn something new every day in blogland don't you?!

Pondside said...

What a fantastic post. You will be responsible - single handedly - for causing a tourist boom in that town. I've been meaning to look for your books when I'm in the US, so will try again this week when we're in Vegas....otherwise it'll be an online search, I guess.

Vee said...

Heard about this event in a blurb in the newspaper, but never saw anything after. So glad that I checked in to see all these delights. Wonderful that you were a judge in a pumpkin dessert contest, too. I really think that I could enjoy that task. They were so beautifully presented.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful fall festival, Sharon!! They sure don't have anything like that around here, so it was a sight for the eyes! I showed my kids the giant carved and painted pumpkins... they LOVED them! :)
Thanks for sharing your fun fall day with us!
~ Jo :)

maggie said...

That is really a lovely community tradition. Where I live, the community events have all become too commercialized for me (or my kids!) to really enjoy anymore. We have actually spent the last year and a half or so looking for someplace to move that that still embodies this sort of community (among our other criteria).

Some amazing pumpkins there! Thanks so much for sharing.

Robin Larkspur said...

What a delightful posting. I would so love to be your neighbor in Maine! Great pumpkin fest, it must be sad to say goodbye for the season. And little Raymond chattering his teeth is so adorable! I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen anything like this in my life :-) I especially liked the pumpkin outside King Eider´s Pub! That one is really creepy in a fun way :-) :-)

Pumpkin desserts is very unknown here since we have almost no pumpkins here :-) I tried to grow one this year, but the frost came early and destroyed it :-) :-)

Have a great day now!

Debra Howard said...

What a great festival! I love small town festivals!. They are absolutely the best. What amazing things they did with all those pumpkins. Those desserts looked absolutely yummmmm. Thanks for sharing the fun pumpkin festival with us.

farmlady said...

Love all the decorated pumpkins. My favorite is Cinderella's coach but some of the really scary ones are great too.
What a wonderful Fall celebration. I have a friend, here in town, who decided to rent a place in New England for the last four months. She has always had a passion for the New England Coast so she decided to go live there for a while. She says it's beautiful and now that I read your blog I can see why she loves it there.
Charming post...

Terra said...

I love the decorated pumpkins, each one more creative than the previous one.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Wow a pumpkin explosion! Very creative or do they have too much time on their hands? And maybe that's not a good thing? And Sharon trying to throw the judging! Your influence is for the greater good I'm sure! Ha! Hope you have a safe trip west! xxoo Nancy

Claudia said...

Oh my gosh, how magical and fun your part of Maine is! Such wonderful pumpkins, such wonderful artistic decorations - and it looks like you had some wonderful food as well. I know you must be sad to leave - have a safe journey back to California.


Kay's flowers said...

I don't know if i would be able to leave! It sounds like so much fun! The pumpkins were great and the desserts looked to die for. Have a safe trip home.

Rebecca said...

This post MUST be the next best thing to actually BEING there! The flavors of those desserts almost oozed off the screen!

This is the part of autumn that I love! All my senses are standing on tiptoes!

Janna Leadbetter said...

That record, HOW is that possible?

Coming home this evening we saw a trailer full of pumpkins, $1 each. After seeing these pictures I want to go by 10 of 'em and get creative!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Sharon, this is just absolutely amazing! How utterly delightful!

Loved everything from the fun pumpkins to Raymond. Great post!


Sheila :-)

Rue said...

I love all the pumpkins! What a joy to live in a place (at least for half the year) where the Autumn is celebrated in such a fun and creative way! There are quite a few great artists there.

I'm sure you'll miss the cottage (I don't know that I could bare to leave it) but you'll have the Winter to dream of all the things you'll do there next year!

Lori ann said...

Oh my gosh Sharon, I don't even know where to begin, this post and the last are so rich and full of photos and information!

I've enjoyed so much tagging along (wish i were really there, someday, i hope to be in both places).

Have a wonderful last few days in Maine. See you back in California soon!


Anonymous said...

No wonder you love this place. Everyone seems so creative, inspired, and filled with love for their community, surroundings and way of life.
What a wonderful way for you and Jeff to end your summer there!

Anonymous said...

goodness...just look at those pumpkins..they're enormous! What glorious fun, with the parade and the contest...
Hope your trip back home is safe and opening up your windows there will give you just as much pleasure as you do every May in Maine!

Claus said...

You have made this wish of mine of going to New England stronger Sharon!! Seems that Autumn reigns in the area at this time of year, and between the beautiful foliage and the pumpkins everywhere, I know I would love it there. Look at those pumpkins! (Cinderella and the cactus were my favorite) true pieces of art. Thank you deeply for sharing. While the dream comes true, it is through friends' eyes that I take joy in a season that does not exist in Guatemala.
have a lovely day!

PS how cute is Raymond!! Makes me want to hug him :o)

Thea said...

wowser! what a great recap of the great pumpkin festival! have a wonderful, exciting adventure home! t

Carol @ A Bird in Hand said...

What fun! I love those pumpkins especially!! Great post. Thank you.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

I have never seen such magnificient pumpkins. So creative and talented - these people to do these. The deserts look so good.
This is truly a wonderful time in your area. I did not know people did this ??
I love my area and now wonder - is it dull here in the woods :)

Aunt Jenny said...

What fun!!! I loved all your pictures and all the pumpkin delights! Wow! I sure would love a pumpkin festival around here...autumn time is the best. Lucky you..getting to judge THAT contest!! a dream job for sure!
I always just love your posts!!!
Have a wonderful week!

Lili said...

Sharon, Every time I open a new issue of Downeast Magazine I can't help but wonder where oh where is the Maine that is depicted within the pages. You have just given me the answer to my wondering. What an utterly delightful post! (All except for the last part that is, when you had to leave.) :( ~Lili

Storybook Woods said...

My goodness, what a pumpkin day. So many cool ideas and yummy treats. You must have had so much fun xoxo Clarice

Anonymous said...

Sharon, I never ceased to be amazed at the talents of creative people. Thank you for sharing these events with us. Fun!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful parade and such creative pumpkins too! Oh to have been a judge for all those goodies..Yummy! While I am endeared to fall like no other season, I am always sad when we lock up the cottage for the last time. Sigh. Life must go on and you'll be busy in sunny California writing a new book we can all look forward too!
Happy and safe travels home...
much love,

Zuzana said...

Wow, this post was a pleasurable experience in word and images, now I only wish I could use my sense of smell and taste as well.
Those pumpkins are incredible, what an art! Not to mention what all the deliciously prepared deserts must have tasted like.;)
This is a true tribute to the month of October indeed.;)
Absolutely lovely post,

From the Kitchen said...

I feel as if I've been on a gala fall adventure with you--well, all except tasting those lovely desserts!! I enjoyed it almost as much as being with you in England.

Safe travels across country.


Carla said...

Oh Sharon, thank you for sharing these wonderful photographs of the carved pumpkins. I think if I had to pick one it would be Cinderella's carriage! All are Amazing crafters! I just love to visit your blog!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

That looks like so much fun! I can't believe how creative people got with the pumpkins. Lucky you to be the judge for all the desserts!

suzanne said...

Good morning Sharon

What a lovely read. I have so enjoyed reading this post today. I grew up in a small mining town in Zimbabwe and like you described, you get to know everyone...unfortunately everyones Mom thinks that they own you too~! How I would love my children to experience seeing your pumpkin festival. I am yet to make a pumpkin pie and this year I am definitely adding pumpkin to the baking list. I can see how this little village and cottage must just creep into your heart~

A happy day to you Sharon

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hello friends,

We are on our way to the Cape May Bird Observatory to gather information for my new book. So excited to finally go there.

I'll be doing a mini-posting later this week as we travel south. We met with my publisher on Monday and had a round table with about 9 of the folks involved in marketing etc.

More later-thanks for your e-mails and your comments. You make my heart sing!


Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I love everything pumpkin! I so enjoyed perusing all the pumpkinfest photos--what amazing art! And the pumpkin cake with the marzipan fruits is absolutely gorgeous! I love summer, but autumn has its own beauty! Now if it would only cool off here down South and we are having a drought!

nocton4 said...

how amazing, great photos and fab pumpkins, wow.
love reading about your trip to England, just sad not to have seen you.
happy days xx

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

Pumpkins are a joyous thing whether looked at, carved upon, eaten, they fill me with autumnal joy. I have a few in my front beds to enjoy, but nothing like this.~~Dee

Glynis Peters said...

Oh how I wish I had never been born an English lass. We Brits are too reserved. In Cyprus they do not decorate with pumkins. I need to move to the USA or Canada. I am a Halloween baby and would have adored all the attention that day gets!

Your photographs are wonderful. I WANT a pumpkin just like...I WANT all of them! *stamps foot* :)

I enjoyed my visit. Thank you for having me.

Nissi Peters

Janet said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog! They sure take their pumpkins seriously. Such wonderful creations and delicious desserts! I love pumpkins, too. I think we are going to grow some next year.

Julie said...

Hello!!! Thanks so much for coming by to leave a comment on my blog! It is a pleasure to "meet" you! Lovely blog! I cannot believe my eyes at the sight of that huge winning pumpkin! WOWZERS!!! I can't wait to pick up your book and mabe all of your books! I am excited.
Julie @ A Succulent Life

Kaye Swain - SandwichINK for the Sandwich Generation said...

WOW! So VERY cool! I loved all those awesome Fall pumpkin table, home and yard decorations and can't wait to show the pictures to my grandchildren! Thank you so much for sharing them! :)

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

I love the traditions of your Maine town. What a wonderful way to wind up your season there. I have never seen so many creative and imaginative fall deserts or pumpkins so artfully displayed. I am following so that I can be inspired even more often. So glad to have found your lovely blog and I look forward to visiting often!

Leslie @ Farm Fresh Fun said...

I am a longtime fan of al your work, delighted to have found your blog! Thanks for all the beauty you share here. I'm your newest follower and look forward to visiting lots more.

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

These pumpkins are amazing, and what a wonderful community event!!