Buying Pumpkins in Door County

Shortly after we arrived I set out at sunset with my camera, capturing a fish boil and quaint white buildings at the magic hour, and enjoying a walk in brisk almost-evening air.

Every building, every hotel and resort, every shop and nearly every home is decked in orange ribbon here, and more often than not, cornstalks, hay bales, scarecrows and pumpkins and mums in every color make Door County both picturesque and welcome in the autumn.

Contrived? Maybe. But it's not unlike the window boxes and planters that make every window and odd corner so inviting in France.

When I saw the pumpkin-decorated doorstep of The Whistling Swan, an inn and restaurant near our motel, I was enchanted. You can see for yourself in the previous post. It was dusk, and a couple were leaving the building as I approached. Interior lights glowed a warm welcome. This, I thought, is what this marvelous season should be.

I went hunting for pumpkins. I found one patch to the south, but many more in the more pristine northern end of the peninsula, where quiet country inns and unpretentious farm markets and artist studios prevail over miniature golf and condominiums.

I pulled into one manned by a swarthy, heavy-set man with a ponytail, an old car and a cellphone. He said he grew his pumpkins up the road, but preferred to sell them in an empty lot across from another pumpkin seller.

"I sell them here to tick him off," he said, jerking his head in the direction of the other patch.

I asked him about the pale salmon pumpkins and the ones with warty growths.

"Those are peanut pumpkins," he told me, pointing to the warty ones. "French. And those are heirloom pumpkins."

I bought a flat red pumpkin for five dollars. His phone rang and I left.

Later I saw a green pumpkin atop a deli counter as I was waiting to by cole slaw.

I did some pumpkin research online, and found that both my red pumpkin, which looks more like a wheel of cheese, and the blue one I have at home, are good for pies and other desserts.

My carver this year is a white pumpkin, much like the ones below. I love carving a jack-o-lantern, and this year I will finally have time.

Meanwhile, here is one of my favorite pumpkin desserts from a few years back.


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