Animal, Vegetable ... or Fruit?

Sometimes life can get nuttier than a fruitcake, and here in New Hampshire, (at least at this time of year), we can prove it! Join The Mountain Farmgirl as she unveils her state’s official fruit, along with a few of its zanier ‘friends’!

Although you and I might be tempted to think of the pumpkin as a magnificent fall vegetable, the students at Wells Memorial Elementary School in Harrisville NH recognized this mighty orb for what it actually is: a fruit! And being apparently bereft of a fruit to call its own, my state of New Hampshire considered the elementary school children’s proposal to elevate the pumpkin’s lowly ground-dwelling status to a revered and highly honored place. So it was that in 2006, the General Court adopted the pumpkin as our Official State Fruit, and the rest, as they say, is history!

I chuckled as I wrote that last sentence. It is almost impossible not to love a pumpkin, don’t you think? I smile whenever I see one, in fact. They are happy vegetables-turned-official-fruits, to my way of thinking, and pumpkins are one of the many things I love about fall. (Here are a couple of photos of my neck of the woods this time of year).


Pumpkins, oh pumpkins, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1. I love my Aunt Dottie’s (and my mom’s) delicious Pumpkin Bread.
2. I love carving pumpkins and drying the fleshy seeds in the oven.
3. I love Thoreau’s lovely quote, “I’d rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
4. I love the memory of a long-ago Thanksgiving Day at my mother’s when my then-tiny daughter snuck into the kitchen during dinner, and stood on tippy-toes to gaze at the dessert table. I loved her uncontrollable urge to stick her little finger into the sensuous pumpkin pie, again and again and again, until it looked like an empty pin cushion! Had it been at a restaurant or someone’s home, discipline would definitely have been in order, but since it was ‘just amongst family’, the image of all those little holes has become a  ‘sweet’ pumpkin memory I treasure …
5. I like making a hearty vegetable stew and serving it up in a real pumpkin tureen.
6. I loved ‘Ma Ingall’s’ ingenuity in one of the Little House Books, when she made an “apple” pie for Pa using green pumpkin! She was an ultimate Farmgirl.
7. … and I love the Return of the Pumpkin People every year to my little village of Jackson!


Pumpkins inspire the best (and zaniest) in all of us, and New Hampshire doesn’t have a corner on the market by a long shot. Take the Pumpkin Fest each year in Darimiscotta, Maine.  They have a pumpkin regatta in which giant pumpkins are carved out  and made into boats, their “squashbuckling” captains sitting within them. Some have sails, some just paddles, others have actual outboard motors attached!  It is hilariously, uproaringly funny and definitely worth checking out at this link:


But for me, the Pumpkin People hit closest to home and heart. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of their annual return to homes and businesses here in Jackson. So famous are they, in fact, that they’ve been featured everywhere from the New York Times to Yankee Magazine, and even on television stations! This year’s Self-guided tour map, published by our local Chamber of Commerce, shows 74 official participants, all of them wonderfully creative renditions worthy of a snapshot. They draw folks from far and wide, which this time of year means sight-seers and Leaf peepers from all over the United States and Europe. Each year I meet hundreds of interesting people from all over the world at our inn, who travel to New England to see the beautiful fall colors. Despite the dry start to the summer, our guests have not been disappointed in the exuberant colors of our foliage which is just now peaking as I write this. With temperatures dipping down into the teens tonight and darkness falling almost after lunch, it seems, these days, this beautiful season will be over all too soon. But it is here today for our enjoyment, so in the meantime, let me take you on a leaf-loving, pumpkin-peepin’ tour of my beloved hometown, Jackson, New Hampshire!

We’ll start right outside my own front door, which has a circus theme. Originally I had the idea of creating a political circus, but that’s a dangerous topic when you’re a business owner in a small community! So, plain ole’ circus it is!!


Here I am at a local art gallery, which had an interesting ‘perspective’ on art:


Rednecks, anyone?

Here's a Pot o' Gold at the end of the Rainbow:

Two variations on a theme; The Muppets:


Tom and Atticus, local author and his trusty sidekick:


Some Familiar Faces:


There are literally dozens of others I could upload, but time and space prevent ...  Instead, please tell us what YOU and your community do to celebrate the harvest season? What do you love about fall? Looking forward to a glimpse into your world in this, my favorite season of the year!

Until next time,
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from Cathi
The Mountain Farmgirl


By: Adrienne
On: 10/14/2012 11:21:13
We had pumpkins, squash and gourds decorating the sukkah for Sukkot, a Jewish celebration where we "live" in a temporary booth or hut for a week to remind ourselves of our nomadic desert wanderings. After the week was over, the pumpkins and squash went to the large kitchen to be made into 100 meals to deliver to the family shelter as the volunteers do every Sunday. I was happy to donate enough corn chowder to feed 100 as well so folks will have a tasty meal later today. Since I'm a vegetarian, I have Thanksgiving dinner planned with a butternut squash stuffed with quinoa and will drink hot milk sprinkled with nutmeg from a small pumpkin like our Founding Fathers did. And on the commercial front, there is always a pumpkin latte waiting for me at Starbucks and Peet's coffee!
By: bonnie ellis
On: 10/15/2012 13:00:07
Cathi: Loved your blog. Those pumpkin races are a hoot. In Minnesota we have a city named Anoka that calls itself the pumpkin capital of the world.
but I think your sweet story about the school children tops it all. Your pictures are great and I have been to New Hampshire. It's gorgeous in the fall. Hope to somehow stay at your Inn sometime.
By: Shery J
On: 10/15/2012 20:53:36
Dear Cathi, Upon arriving at the Pearly Gates, I'll know for certain I'm there because off in the distance will be a corner of Heaven that looks like Vermont. I love my homestate, but Vermont is absotively #2. Thank you for the fall tour. I wish I could be there in person right now to go for a week long drive in the countryside.
By: Judy
On: 10/19/2012 05:29:47
Hi Cathi,
Loved your pumpkin you know fall is a busy time here in the valley, but finally tomorrow I have a day I can play hookie from the Quilt Shop...
I'm hoping for sunny weather ...while we are definetly past's not too late to play tourist and take a pumpkin people tour. Hubby and I have lived here almost 30 years and have never done this, you've inspired me.
Thanks for all of your great posts, I so look forward to reading them.

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir