November 21, 2011

nature's last colourful burst before snow's reign

really fine autumn weather. But near the end of October with the nights frosting, freezing, most pumpkins are done for, done in, finished. They are not the last veggie to appear before winter's enveloping being, but we definitely know that it is close.

I stood in a field overlooking carving pumpkins, delicatas, hubbards all laying low in the otherwise empty fields, hundreds of these brightly coloured balls which not only was enigmatically disturbing but was almost haunting, like you could really here them whispering some weird shit. At le Courgerie, their season will consist of approximately 400 varieties, including the approximately 100 decorative kinds, which are even more bizarre.

I could not help thinking how a single small place in what seems the middle of nowhere is doing with so many varieties. I found myself with a wheelbarrow, no direction, and plenty of squash and pumpkins. Almost all of which I have never cooked before...delicata (told to stuff with sausage), hubbard (good for fries), pink banana (gnocchi), sweet dumpling (dessert), Jarrahdale....that is where the imagination kicks in.

Pascale's father had the farm, which was dairy, and she moved it towards specializing in pumpkins. 1999. Pierre, her husband, originally in human resources wanted to have an escargotiere. Fat chance, because Canada's laws are extremely strict on importing live snails. They consolidated. They had about 15 varieties and a big portion of their market in the United States. Then september 11th hit. Borders shut down. They were no longer able, as many others, to move their produce. The result were enormous mountains of oranges, yellows and blue balls...People driving by their farm were suddenly attracted by the surreal landscape, stopping with their children and began buying trunk loads of pumpkins. An idea was born. Pascale and Pierre began traveling the world obtaining seed varietals with the intention of having an outdoor, living, natural museum of squash and pumpkins without having to call it that, but one long conversation with them, and it can get as intense as the MoMa.

Overlooking a field of brightly coloured squash and pumpkins randomly scattered amidst otherwise greyish, brown cultivated landscapes have got to be some of the most surreal things in this northern nature. Incredible to see, these last eerie colourful burst of nature before our great white months.