Late last fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving behind us and the long winter looming ahead, I left two large pumpkins at the foot of the old pine at the bend in the drive. They were a gift to the neighborhood squirrels, who go crazy for seeds from any kind of squash. Hunger makes them bold, and they have even crept right up on the front steps, glancing furtively over their shoulders, right under the nose of our dog, to steal the small pumpkins that sit by the door. I’ve discovered the evidence of the crime later in the backyard, the orange rinds in shreds and a few stray seeds scattered in the leaves.
The squirrels, and other creatures we hear only when twilight falls, made short work of the pumpkins. Soon there was nothing left but the stems, and even those disappeared the following night.
Despite the thoroughness of the squirrels and raccoons, a few seeds were evidently overlooked. A month ago, I noticed, poking out between the stone border edging the irises and the asphalt drive, what was clearly a pumpkin seedling. My first impulse was to pull it up, and I reached down to uproot it. But then something made me stop and leave it be.
Somehow it has taken root in the hard dirt between rock and asphalt, and against all odds, it grows, unfolding its blossoms and spreading out leaves to reach the sun.
Conflict is like that, I think. It is the hard places inside us, the rock wall laid down stone by stone, the asphalt paving that divides one house from the next.
Yet somehow, tenaciously, hope puts down roots, growing up between the cracks. Blossoms, stems, leaves, roots, it stretches from the shadows and reaches high to gain the light.