Ashley LodatoBy Ashley Lodato

Towards the end of Gary Walker and Patty Barker’s very well-attended Pumpkin Fest on Saturday, little remained in the pumpkin patch but a few scraggly squash. The limp vines lying on the bare ground also revealed a cluster of guinea hen eggs, nestled in a circle like white river rocks in a dark green basket.

I was sharing my “my-chickens-lay-all-over-the-place” woes with Patty, and she informed me that her dog will sometimes follow the guinea hens around and as soon as one lays an egg, the dog carefully picks the egg up in his mouth and brings it to Patty at the house, unbroken. This is more than I can get my kids to do, even with the assistance of a basket!

One pumpkin that did not go home from Pumpkin Fest with a new owner was Monte Pringle’s giant pumpkin, “Whitey.” (This might have had something to do with the fact that it weighs 473 pounds.) Whitey has made the rounds to a couple of different viewing opportunities, riding in style in the back of a large pickup truck, into which he was hoisted by a forklift.

Seven-year-old Ayla Belsby, who has seen the pumpkin in all stages of its growth because it was grown by her uncle Monte in her garden, told me nostalgically, “I remember it when it was just this big,” making a little cup out of her hands. She then looked at the pumpkin with a mixture of pride and sadness, similar to the way that parents look at their grown children – delighted that they have turned out so well but a bit bewildered by how the time flew so quickly.

Whitey is now on temporary display outside the Winthrop Library, along with his daintier cousin, an orange pumpkin weighing in at a mere 260 pounds and bearing a dent that is the result of growing around a guard rail. Information about getting seeds from these giants is posted near the pumpkins.

At Saturday’s radio drama performance at The Merc Playhouse, a request was made for a volunteer from the audience. Ronda Bradeen bravely sallied forth and, in an irony that was lost on no one who knows her, proceeded to read the role of the priest. If you need an officiant for a ceremony that requires only the words “Dearly beloved,” you could probably book Ronda as a stand-in – she’s got that part nailed.

On a recent hike in the Sawtooths we found a few giant clumps of edible mushrooms, and also had the disconcerting experience of repeatedly stepping in what we came to think of as “dog poop mushrooms,” based on their texture and odor. Like the real thing, they tend to be situated inconveniently in the middle of the trail.

Don Goodman was seen carrying his baby around – his puffball mushroom baby, that is. The thing was larger than a basketball and was dense, like an enormous ball of frozen bread dough. Found in an undisclosed location, the puffball is big enough that if Don chose to, he could live on nothing else until Thanksgiving.