Monday, October 25, 2010

Telling It Like It Is: Pumpkin Butter

I got back from retreat at our denominations Regional Camp and Conference Center a few days ago. Just me and the woods. And the 50 or so 3rd Graders from a nearby Montessori school that got to spend a long weekend away from home. In a cabin.  Right next to mine.

One morning, as I sat outside enjoying my coffee, thankful for munchkin's eating breakfast, literally watching a family of deer leap through the forest... I heard a rustle. I'm excited. Could it be the groundhog that I ate dinner with, returning to greet me? A squirrel? A turtle? A band of woodland fairies?

Nope.  Just a 3rd Grade boy, running as fast as he could, holding his crotch with both hands and yelling as loudly as his little underdeveloped voice would let him: "A SPIDER BIT MY PENIS!!"

I know I heard it. The folks in the neighboring town heard it. A friend of mine from Indianapolis called and asked me how the boy with the spider was doing. And in Boston, there was a 20-something woman, shuffling to her front door to grab the morning paper, who heard it. Sure it was muffled by then... and it came out sounding like "Fire and light in Venus." But still, the young woman nodded, and after the night she'd had, mumbled, "Tell me about it."

But I digress.

As quickly as the 3rd Grade boy emerged from the forest, he was gone. Hightailing it to his cabin to inspect the damage.  I said a quick prayer for the unsuspecting male teacher, whose break, was about to be cut short.

Then gave the boy props for telling it like it is.

I guess if you're gonna say something, you might as well say exactly what you mean. Right?

In the midst of all the political volleying that is going on out there... the churches that keep functioning but are afraid to say anything... the visionaries that talk to empty rooms because they don't believe in themselves enough to invite others... the everyday people that say "I'm fine," when they really mean, "I'm tired" or "I'm sad" or "I hurt"...

I guess in the midst of all that, a little boy running through the forest holding his crotch and yelling about a spider that bit his penis... well, I guess it's almost refreshing.  There's no second guessing.  No critique.  Or mulling.  And my Mother The Biology Teacher, would be proud that the little guy called it by it's anatomically correct name.

So here's Pumpkin Butter. It doesn't try to be anything other than, what it is. Pumpkin.

What you'll need:

2 Cups pumpkin puree or one can (disappointed look)
3/4 Cup apple juice (but if you use the canned stuff, you might need to add a bit more)
1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 Cups white sugar
2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.

You might be able to can and store this butter... but given the low acidity of pumpkin, I'd be afraid to do so. Someone with canning prowess might be more inclined to give it a try, and if you do, and you don't spend a night or two in the hospital from food poisoning, let me know.

Enjoy it for what it is, and nothing more. Just sweet pumpkin and a few spices, in a jar. And may you find the courage to speak today... speak when it matters and say what you mean. Someone might only hear "A fighter's flying to Paris." But at least you'll know you tried.

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