Scarecrow City?

Early this morning I rose, showered, dressed and headed promptly into Mendocino’s central small town as I’d spied a Pumpkin Festival going on, and wanted to get there ahead of the inevitable crowds of people from all over the county who come annually to enjoy the festivities. I especially wanted access to an unencumbered look at the giant pumpkins folks around the county grow each year to see who can grow the Biggest Pumpkin! I’d spotted a few of them literally being forklifted earlier in the week into a central park for early daytime viewing! Children had immediately gravitated to them and were permitted to climb up on them and use them as a vantage point in viewing the setting up of the festival.

However what I was not aware of was the addition this year of a Scarecrow City, sporting contributions from children from various Mendocino classrooms. And that was a special treat, I must say! Here were a few of the creations that greeted me!

A modern Greenman?

la mama

Hip girl scarecrow

And here is my absolute favorite! Note the pampas grass mane! Isn’t he wonderful??

Walking beyond the Scarecrow City I arrived at the park where the Biggest Pumpkins had been put on display. Words fail me [moi!] in contemplating these behemoths. Let’s just have a zen moment here.


Two–OK, Three


Can you even begin to imagine the time and energy and commitment it would require to get a single seed to these proportions? Mon Dieu!

I adore this time of year. I do. In preparation for all of the upcoming holidays yesterday I pulled out a recipe from my distant (meaning she’s been found through genealogy studies) cousin Julie for, fittingly, Pumpkin Apple Soup, which she boldly touted as the Best Pumpkin Soup in the World. So what better weekend than this one to try? I whipped it up–and, must confess, tweaked. You can try either version.

Cousin Julie’s Pumpkin Apple Soup

Melt an entire stick of butter in a good thick soup pan. Add one large red onion, which I threw into the Cuisinart first. Add 6-8 tart apples, peeled and cubed. [Again, I threw in the Cuisinart. Also, I used the apples from my tree, which are pre-hybridized delicious.] Add 4 cups of pumpkin puree.
Saute. Now. If you’ve used the Cuisinart, you’re ready for the next step. If not, you need to mash up what’s in the pan before proceeding to next step. Then, add a quart of chicken broth and “a good swig of half & half” which she goes on to define as “a pint or more.” Yeah, that’s a good swig, all right! Add a goodly teaspoon of tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste. Now here is where I tweaked. I could not get myself as excited as I wanted to be without adding a nice fat tablespoon of curry. I love curry and pumpkin. I just do. So the curry was just the thing that made it perfect for me. You can choose.

I found this to be a very rich and delicious soup. It’s an exquisite pale yellow color (richer if you add curry) in which those little tarragon leaves are floating. Gorgeous. I think it would be the perfect soup to prepare the day before Thanksgiving or Christmas, then serve as a simple cup of soup, as a first course. Or you could serve a full bowl pre-holiday on a chilly day with perhaps homemade croustini. Let me know, will you? Enjoy!

Love and seasonal blessings,
Kathryn xoxo
Footnote: The first recorded mention of scarecrows is in Europe in the 1500’s! Will you be making one? If so, send me a jpeg and I will post!

28 Responses to “Scarecrow City?”

  1. How Lovely, mom! I adore that lion scarecrow! How creative! πŸ™‚
    Looking forward to trying that soup, which looks quite pretty, festive and yummy!
    Love you,

  2. Hi, Antonia! Yes, isn’t he amazing? I’d like to have him live in my garden for awhile! (Wouldn’t want to risk the spreading of pampas grass, however.) And, yes, you can try that soup in person shortly! How fun!
    Love, Mom xoxo

  3. The lion scarecrow is my favorite, too, though they’re all very creative! What a grand outing. πŸ™‚ The soup look delicious — this just seems to be the time of year for aromatic stews, soups and chowders. Anything to chase away the chill.

  4. Hi, Nancy! Yes, that lion is too precious! Making me think of C.S. Lewis. Maybe I will get inspired and make a scarecrow, too. It’s not too late! Kathryn xoxo

  5. …and love and seasonal blessings to you, dear Kathryn. What a fun fall day! Amazing how creative minds flow! Count me in for your yummy autumn soup. Big hugs.

  6. Thanks, dear Joey! Yes, this soup would be right up your alley, I do believe! Kathryn xox

  7. Those mega pumpkins are absurd, aren’t they? You’re right, of course, about their development, but they actually move fairly fast, once underway. The scarecrow contest would have to be invented if it were not there for you guys. Such a natural thing. You know, my brother had land in Anderson Valley. by Boonville. I spent many days up on those mountains north of the highway there. Right above Toni Morrison, in fact, Kathryn. That may well be my favorite country anywhere, including Mendicino.

  8. I love this post! And I’m with you – the lion is fabulous! I would just love to do one of those! You know me and cats… LOL

  9. Hi, Steve! Absurd is a good word! My mind can barely process them, especially those of the size of that last photo. I ask myself: what am I looking at? Gross hybridization? Do pumpkins on their own actually ever get this big? Or is this humankind’s scientific distortion? Someone enlighten me! Bigger question: are they essentially “ornamental” (I’m being kind), or can you actually eat them??And, yes, Steve, Anderson Valley is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, I have no doubt. I missed it like crazy whenever I have left. Kathryn xox

  10. Hi,Kylee–If you lived closer we could make one together! I am totally enchanted with that lion. He will definitely be one of my favorite images of this season! He is truly charming. Glad you liked the post. πŸ™‚ Kathryn xox

  11. Hi Kathryn, what a great Autumnal post! Those pumpkins are amazing, and the scarecrows are totally fun. I love the lion’s mane also, but how about his feet?? Hilarious! (and creative). Looks like you had fun at the fair. πŸ™‚ XOXO, M.

  12. Hi, Marsha! Yes, his feet are so creative! I loved that they actually looked at the lines in those squashes and came to that conclusion–PAWS! It was a fun morning! Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  13. Those have to be some of the most delightful scarecrows I have ever seen! How fun! I just love the creativity. The Pampas grass is brilliant as the lion’s mane, and the gourds are so wonderful as his paws!
    La mama is resplendant with her chile necklace!
    Oh, this made me laugh and smile!
    Warm regards,

  14. Hi, Philip! Welcome! Yes, those were my two favorite creations: the mane and the adorable feet! And, yes,I was also fond of that chile necklace! What a great touch. Knowing that primarily children came up with all of these makes it all even more special! Glad you enjoyed! Kathryn xoxo

  15. Hi Kathryn,

    Happened across your blog and am enjoying it.

    Last week I spoke at a Master Gardener seminar in Pleasant Hill that featured Rosalind Creasy as the key note speaker. She showed many photos from her amazing front yard edible garden in Palo Alto (which she rips out and replants twice a year in order to create the photos for her books) and she shared photos from her upcoming book on fantasy gardens.

    Last fall her garden theme was the Wizard of Oz, complete with – you guessed it – a cowardly lion with pampas grass mane. Apparently that is what all the fashionable lions are wearing these days.

  16. Ah-ha, Susan! So it’s going around! I certainly did think of the Wizard of Oz when I saw the scarecrow lion. Bet I’m not alone in that one. Thanks for the info (and the visit!).Kathryn xox

  17. awesome pumpkins and scarecrows Kathryn! The greenman and the lion were my favorites. Love the jack-o-lanterns in the first shot.

    That soup sounds scrumptious, and perfect for the crisp autumn days we’re having here. I would definitely add the curry. Although I’ve never tried pumpkin with curry, it seems like a match made in Heaven!

  18. Hi, Linda! Yes, pumpkin and curry are a great combo. I often make a simple pumpkin soup this time of year simply by sauteing chopped yellow onion and garlic, then adding water, fresh pumpkin puree and then salt and curry to taste. I love that soup. Simple, fast and very nurturing. Glad you liked the images! Kathryn xoxo

  19. Kathryn-
    What fabulous photos you offer are us with great subject matter as well. I’m a big fan of pumpkin contests. The Christian Science Monitor ran a great article on one today.

    I also love your town of Mendocino. I was visiting my friend, Chris Woods over at Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden and took a spin over to the town and fell in love with it. Cheers- Fran

  20. Welcome, Fran, and thank you for your kind words! Here’s the link to that CSM article. Funny! Yes, it’s easy to fall in love with Mendocino. It’s one of my favorite places. Sounds like you fell under its magical spell as well! Thanks for the visit. Kathryn xox

  21. Kathryn, Thank you for sharing your pumpkin festival – and your recipe! πŸ™‚ This is a wonderful time of year, isn’t it? (If we take time to enjoy it!)

    Last summer my husband and I took a short trip to Wisconsin to view the cranberry harvest. On the way, we happened upon a little town with a pumpkin festival! One very entertaining event was where the contestants hollowed out those humongous pumpkins, put them in the river and had a rowing contest! It was a riot!! πŸ™‚ The assortment of oars was even more fun… everything from real oars to snow shovels. ha.

  22. Welcome, Shady Gardener! That is a fantastic story! I’d love to see them do that here! Thanks for sharing!
    Kathryn xxoxo

  23. Lovely Kathryn thank you for showing us all those lovely photos. Great fun Though I think size matters πŸ™‚ I don’t want huge pumpkins, that big one was gross it made me think of Belgium blue…. Cousin Julie’s Pumpkin Apple Soup sounds delicious I got to try that, I think soup is perfect winter food. / Tyra xoxo to you Kathryn

  24. LOL! Hi, Tyra! I agree.Those big ones are uncomfortably gross! You must have some wonderful winter soup recipes! You must share! Kathryn xox

  25. That lion is fantastic. My first visit here. Your photos are nice too look at.

  26. Welcome, Di! So glad you enjoyed the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  27. Oh, it looks like such gorgeous weather in such a gorgeous setting where you are. It’s only beginning to feel like fall in Austin, and nobody seems to grow pumpkins here. Nevertheless, I am determined to try your pumpkin soup recipe. I’ve never had anything like it, and it’s finally a soup time of the year– my favorite time of the year! πŸ™‚

  28. Welcome, Lori! Yes, the weather is still holding this week and they are saying days in the 80’s! I’m going to relish it as the rainy season is also upon us and there is a lot of mud out there. I’m suprised to hear pumpkins are not in abundance in Texas! Grow your own! I highly recommend it! Kathryn xoxo

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