There is something about fall that brings out the country look everywhere. Probably some deep evolutionary response to the harvest season. Or maybe just decades of marketing. It usually starts in August, peaks in late September, and by October, Christmas has taken over.
But during those glorious days of fall advertising-season, it is all scarecrows and hay bales. And of course, pumpkins.
Sometimes it is so fun to go to a local pumpkin patch, pick out a pumpkin from their fields and get a gallon of apple cider. Sometimes it is a pain because it’s still in the 80s every afternoon, yellow jackets are everywhere, and those pumpkins are really heavy. And the farmers market ones are expensive, especially if you want different colored ones.
So one day at Target you see a really cute display. They are fake, of course, but look pretty all together, especially with some fake gourds mixed in. And that little weathered sign that says “welcome fall.”. So you add to the cart. Or maybe you are a little more upscale and you go for the expensive Funkins, which can be carved. I used to save up for one a year, to eventually amass a grouping of them carved in the shape of fall leaves.
Now you don’t have to worry about them rotting on the porch in the September heat. When Christmas advertising season rolls around, you can just stick them in the basement. What’s not to like?
I’ve written before about James Howard Kunstler, and his theory that the countryside is disappearing in part because Americans love the countryside. They each want a piece, so they divide it up and swallow it. This feels a little like that. We love the idea of the fall harvest look, so we copy it. But we do it in a way that destroys any actual fall harvesting in our communities.
Every fake pumpkin that is bought is a real pumpkin that didn’t get bought. It is a local farm that wasn’t visited, a farmer’s market stand passed over. It is choosing convenience and cheapness over an easy chance to enrich your local economy. It is a choice to instead enrich a factory far away churning out fake squash. I am now imagining a factory in Cambodia, the workers laughing at us, thinking what is this and why are people paying for it?
And really, it is hilarious. We pave over farms to build suburbs that we decorate to look like farms. But do we at least support the remaining local farms as we decorate? No. We do not. Our decorations are the most superficial thing possible, because they are the very opposite of what we value. At least there won’t be any crows on the front porch.
The problem with fake pumpkins is that they are another piece of junk that chips away at a local economy. They are more styrofoam adding to the mountain of trash in our country. They are one more emblem of a world we destroyed and now so poorly try to imitate.
There are a lot of problems with no solution. But this one is easy.