Andy Dean Photography/PhotoSpin
If you've ever had the pleasure of tending a pumpkin patch then you will also know the joy of watching the vines as they extend and spiral, as their flowers blossom and bloom.
A garden full of squash of any sort in full bloom is an extravagant and awe-inspiring sight. Glorious chaos, that's a pumpkin patch.
The first time I grew pumpkins I was a dork who was mystified by the green squash appearing on my vines.
I had heard that any vine plants like cucumbers, watermelons and squash could cross-pollinate and leave you with something you didn't actually plant. And I had all three types of vines in my garden. I wondered if I'd get a watermelon-squash hybrid.
In actual fact I had not planted pumpkins, at least not knowingly. The package the seeds came in said they were supposed to be buttercup squash.
So maybe I am off the hook that for weeks I didn't know that what I was looking at were actually pumpkins in training.
Imagine my surprise and embarrassment when my green squash began to turn orange.
Oh! A light dawned. Pumpkins!
I ended up with a pleasing mixture of buttercup squash, pumpkins and another type of squash that I could not identify and didn't yet have internet to google for it.
I have no idea if all that cross-breeding stuff is true. But I do know this. Home-grown pumpkins make the best pies.
That Thanksgiving I made eight pies from pumpkins out of my very own garden. What a sense of triumph!
Nothing could be sweeter. Even for a pie made from vegetables.
They're gorgeous when they're growing, they taste so good that they've been mainstays at both Thanksgiving and Christmas seemingly forever.
But are they good for you? So many holiday foods are not.
According to SELF Magazine's website, pumpkin is low in cholesterol, sodium and saturated fat.
It's a good source of vitamins A, C, E and several B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and B6. It provides the minerals copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus.
Pumpkin is high in dietary fiber. It's low on the glycemic index and has anti-inflammatory properties.