tagFirst TimeFrost on the Pumpkin

Frost on the Pumpkin


When the weather is hot and sticky,
That's no time for dunkin dickey.

When the frost is on the pumpkin,
That's the time for dickey dunkin.

I have no idea who the originator of this limerick is. I do know that my Grandmother taught it to me around the time I was able to fully appreciate my first dirty joke. As I think back, she loved dirty jokes and could laugh as hard at them as anyone I have ever met.

She stood every inch of five feet and had her father's steel blue eyes that could see into a person's soul and judge their worth. The rest of her features and a loving heart came from her mother. The proud chiseled face, long raven hair and ramrod straight back. She was the daughter of a Yankee horse trader and an American Indian from the Tupper Lake region of New York State.

My Grandmother had liberal ideas on sex. Especially when you consider her era, a time when an exposed female knee would throw a community into frenzy. Her views on life, love and sex were handed down to her from her mother, a woman who viewed life with a practical and honest eye.

My aunt was born two months before me. Not only did her age start tongues wagging, but; Grandmas' husband had died two years earlier and no, she had not remarried. Perhaps this is not so noteworthy today, but back then, it was considered scandalous.

You would not have known that my mother had been raised by this woman. Dear Mom was a prude, among other uncomplimentary things that I believed her to be. I am sure, that if she had been there for Hester Prim's trial, she would have voted for the boiled in oil option.

I think Dad got laid once a year. Kind of like a Christmas gift. I say this because I am an only child and was born on the twenty-third of September.

Even as a young child, I preferred staying at my Grandmothers small farm. It was infinitely better than spending time with my mother or my father, who seemed to me like a lost man, with no purpose in life. Don't get the wrong impression; my Dad was a good provider. He was a pharmacist as was his father. When Grandpa Tucker died, Dad took over, not out of love for the work, but for no other reason than that's what was expected of him.

The older I got, the less time I spent at home. I'm sure to my mothers liking. As she would express a continuing dissatisfaction with me.

"You are an unruly and ungrateful child," she would chide me.

"One of these days I'm going to ship you off. Get you out of my mother's wicked grasp. Then you will see that life is not the fun and games that she has filled your head with."

I, like my father, found it easier to allow her to rant and rave, though unlike my father, when she was done, I was free to go where I felt loved and wanted.

Holidays at my home were perfunctory, celebrated for the sole purpose of meeting societies minimum requirements. However at Grandma's, every holiday was a celebration of life, joy and a giving of thanks.

There were three holidays that we, Grandma Holt, my Aunt and I celebrated, that the town's people did not.

On the first full moon after mid April, we would celebrate with a firelight ritual dance. We would express our thanks and joy at the season of new birth. There was a similar event for the summer solstice. The third took place each fall on the night of Halloween, giving thanks for the harvest and as a remembrance of love for those that had departed.


My Aunt Mariah and I where approaching the end of our freshman year of high school. We were more like brother and sister, despite the teasing of kids at school about her being my Aunt.

We were sitting side by side on the bus ride home. "Well, are you excited about tonight?"

She didn't look at me when she replied, "Why, what's tonight?"

"Don't give me that. You know perfectly well. It's the twentieth, full moon, now do you remember?"

In a mundane voice, she answered. "Oh yeah, that."

"I'm excited, aren't you?"

She looked at me and lowered her voice as she said, "You're excited because this is the first year I have tits and you think you're going to get to see them if my old buckskin shirt rides up while I'm dancing. That's the only reason you're excited."

"No Aunty, it isn't."

She hates when I call her Aunty and she glared at me as I continued.

"I'm excited because I want to see what happens to your tits on a cold night. Don't groan. Wearing your too tight buckskins is part of the ceremony."

"In your dreams. I'm not dancing and I'm going to talk to Mom."

"You know, I think you're turning more like your older sister every day."

She gave me a hard punch to the arm, but I figured it was worth it. There was no way that she'd back out of tonight's celebration now.

When we walked into Grandma's kitchen, she was busy, putting the wheat bread in the oven.

"Glad you're home, Tim, I need you to change then go down to the field. You need to build the fire this year."

"But, Grandma. You usually do it and I help."

"Not this year. The fire is a man's job. This is the first year that you qualify. You've seen me do it enough. The hearth is the woman's joy and pride. This year, Mariah is a woman. She and I will prepare the feast and talk woman's talk. Now, go. We have a lot to do before the moon rises."

There was still a chill in the spring air as the sun set and we ate our celebration feast.

"Tim, light the fire, it will warm the earth and air for us while we eat and give thanks to our provider and the earth's creator."

We ate our small feast of warm whole-wheat loaves, hunters stew, and baked apples, with warm mulled applejack. Scant food from the remainder of the winter's stores never tasted so good. No doubt, that the seasoning of love added a flavor and zest to these most meager of dishes, turning them into a true feast.

When we were done, the crest of the moon was just appearing above the line of birch trees.

My Grandmother spoke, "It is time to prepare our selves for the dance of vernal life."

She was the first to remove her jacket and expose her hide-covered torso to the cool spring breeze. At age fifty-seven, soon to be fifty-eight, my grandmother was a healthy figure of a woman as she stood there, silhouetted in the moon light.

Even in my early teens, her beauty was not lost on me.

I turned to Maria, just in time to see her tug the heavy sweatshirt that she was wearing, over her head. The shirt pulling her buckskin top up, revealing her breasts. My mouth opened in shock. Her breasts were almost the size of her mothers, only there was no sag to them. They were beautiful.

Despite a tiny twinge of shame for the lust I was feeling for my Aunt, I watched, spellbound as the perfect round mounds came into view. The cool air hardening her nipples. When she noticed me staring, she brought her shirt back down to cover them.

A moment later, my grandmother spoke. "Mariah, no shame; remember?"

"Yes Mom, I remember, but why does he have to stare at me."

"Tim, shouldn't you be removing your jacket?"

"I am Grandma; I just wanted to see if Maria needed any help."

"Tim, you're always thinking of others, you're so sweet. If that's the case, come over here and take my jacket and fold it for me, then put it beside Mariah's."

When I looked back a Mariah, she was standing, top neatly pulled back in place. Oh well, I thought; let's see what happens when she starts the dance. My hopes were high.

My grandmother was about to begin when the high beam headlights of my fathers new 1966 Buick La Saber blinded us.

We stood, motionless, as my mothers screeching voice drowned out the sound of the crackling wood fire.

"Tim! You get over here this instant. Get away from those tramps. I knew they would have you devil worshiping out here with them.

"You; crazy woman," she screamed at her mother. "I'm going to call the police and have you arrested for perverting my son."

Mariah moved faster than I had ever seen her. In a single leap, she was at the table and grabbed a sharp knife. Then in a sprint, she was at her sister's side, knife in her hand. Her muscles rippling with tension.

"Mariah," I shouted as I ran to her. "Don't."

When I got close all I could hear was. "...I'll skin you like the snake you are."

My mother was all too happy to take her eyes off Mariah and as she move toward the car, she snapped at me.

"Get in the car, before I have you all arrested. And don't get any of that filth from those things you're wearing on the interior. -- Don't you understand! Move when I tell you."

I got in the back and positioned myself on the edge of the seat behind my mute father. I looked out the front window and for the first time in my fifteen years, I saw my Grandmother, slouched, shoulders down and head bent. She was still standing in front of the yellow and orange flames, but now she looked broken, defeated by her eldest daughter.


My mother made good on her long time threat. The one where she promised to send me away. Away from the place that I knew and loved, with its green hills, clear lakes and talking trees, the proud home of the Algonquin. Tears filled my eyes and hatred my heart, for what my mother was taking from me.

I was sent to live with my aunt, on my father's side. Their home was in the Back Bay area of Boston. Dr. Vincent and Mary Giatino. These people were far happier than my parents and being childless, took me in to their hearts. They were good people, loving and kind. They just weren't my people.

Time may not truly heal all wounds, but it lessens their importance. So it was that I began to blend in to my school. By the time I graduated from Boston Latin, I had a new and far more sophisticated group of friends.

Three of us were continuing together to attend Tufts. During my time in Boston, I had written to Mariah and my grandmother less each month, until now, three years later, I was only sending them birthday and Christmas cards. Once in a while, I would miss home and the nostalgia of the little town of Sarnac, New York would fill my heart with love and longing for the beauty and peace of that sleepy town. On those occasions, I would write a note or short letter to them.

As for my mother and father, I refused to open the few cards or gifts they sent. When they made their monthly phone call, I refused to speak to them. My Aunt was wonderful about the letters and the calls. She never pressed me to speak to them, and often made excuses for me. My parent's letters were kept in a box beside the entry door coat rack.

From Mariah and my grandmother, there was nothing. No cards, no calls. I was sure that my mother had threatened them with something in an effort to prevent them from contacting me, but it hurt none the less.


My Aunt and Uncle paid for my tuition at Tufts and I was determined to get high grades in an effort to show them my appreciation for their gift.

I was swamped with schoolwork and the late summer and early fall flitted by quickly. One cool October afternoon, I walked in and found my Aunt sitting in the foyer entry, crying like a newly widowed woman. She was clutching a letter in her hand, at the sight of me she jumped up, and rushed to me.

"Aunt Mary, what's wrong, what's happened?"

"Oh, Tim, I'm so sorry. I didn't want to do it but your mother made me promise. I'm so ashamed. Tim, Can you ever forgive me."

"Aunt Mary, what's wrong?"

She thrust the open letter into my hand and fled the foyer. I looked at the envelope and recognized the hand writing instantly, despite not having seen it since we were in school together. It was a special delivery letter. I felt queasiness in the pit of my stomach and my hand trembled as I pulled the thin paper from its envelope.

"Dear Tim

I hope and pray that this letter gets thru to you. Mom is very ill and to be honest she seems to have lost the will to remain here, among the living.

I know that you have a new life there in Boston and I do not ask this lightly.

You Grandmother is calling for you. Tim, for her sake, I am begging you to come home. I know you can't stay but this may be the last chance you have to see your grandmother alive.

Love, Aunt Mariah"

When I looked up, Aunt Mary was standing there, wringing her hands, tears still in her eyes. At her feet was a wire milk crate, full of letters.

She blurted out, "Tim I'm so very sorry. I only did it because your mother told us it was best for you not to have any contact with your other Aunt and your Grandmother.

"Tim, please tell me that you can forgive me," she sputtered between sobs.

Her pain was so obvious that I felt compelled to comfort her.

"Aunt Mary, you had no way of knowing."

"Oh Tim," she wailed. "I should have known. I've seem what she has done to my brother. It's just that we, your Uncle and I were so happy when you came to us. To my shame, I would have done anything to keep you here. We love you Tim. We couldn't love you more if you were our own son."

From some where in her, she summoned a burst of strength that was reflected in her stature and words.

"But now, Now you need to go," she swallowed hard. "Your Grandmother needs you. Here is enough money to get you thru, until you return here to finish your schooling.

"Don't worry, I'll call the dean personally and explain the family crises to him. Now, go get packed. I'll call a taxi service that will take you to the buss station. Go. Hurry."


Sitting in the bus and looking out the window at the Adirondacks, I felt a shiver of exhilaration run thru my body. It was a late fall this year. The Oaks still had some color in their leaves and today promised to be one of the last few days of an Indian summer.

When I stepped off the bus, I heard the crunch of leaves under my feet. A sound that was only heard in Boston if you walked thru the Commons. The smell of autumn air, the clean lake water, was like a narcotic. I couldn't pull enough of it into my lungs to quench my needs.

It was four miles from the Greyhound bus stop to my grandmother's farm. I use to be able to walk it in well under an hour. With that thought in mind, I set off. I walked past my father's pharmacy and caught a glimpse of him, standing behind the fountain counter, with its four swivel stools. I didn't stop, though my anger towards him had changed to pity, I still had no respect for the man.

By the time I made it to the post box at the junction of the paved road and the long rutted dirt drive that lead to my grandmothers farm, my legs were about to give out.

As I looked up the drive towards the house, I saw a beat up 57 Buick Electra coming down at a breakneck speed. I could see the woman behind the wheel, and my brain began to question my vision. "Was that Mariah?"

The car skidded to a halt in the dirt, not five feet from me. The driver's door was thrown open and Mariah rushed to me, wrapping her arms around me as tears came to her eyes.

"I knew you'd come. I knew that some how my letter would get thru to you. And, and you're here now."

I dropped my small suitcase and embraced her, feeling her breasts push into my chest as she nuzzled her face into my neck. We held each other like that for several moments. Mariah broke the embrace suddenly; I'm guessing that the feel of my growing erection against her belly had something to do with it.

She pulled back and I watched as her eyes went to the bulge in the front of my pants.

"Mariah," I said. "You have certainly changed. I don't remember you being this beautiful."

My words got me a punch to the shoulder.

"Ouch, I guess you haven't changed that much."

My words now made her hug me again but only briefly.

"So have you. You're no longer the spindly boy that ogled my breasts."

Her words made me blush, because now I had a definite desire to do more than ogle her breasts.

What was I thinking? This was my Aunt. I shook my head to clear those terrible thoughts out of my brain.

"Come on my Mom is waiting for you."

We got in the car, but before Mariah put it in gear, she looked at me.

"Tim, you need to know. Mom has not been the same since you left. I don't want you to be surprised when you see her.

"She can barely get out of bed Tim. The Doctors say she has a blood disease, Luciamia.

"Tim, she's dying and doesn't seem to care. I'm afraid that she is holding on to life for the sole purpose of seeing you one last time. I'm so afraid that once she sees you that she will just let go and..."

She couldn't finish her thoughts before she broke down and tears streamed down her cheek as sobs racked her body.

I scooted across the seat to put my arm around her, "Mariah, Grandma always had a will of her own. Neither you nor I could make her sway from what she wants to do.

"I do know this. Grandma has a reason for everything that she does.

"Mariah, if she decides to let go of life, you can bet she has a reason. Now, you and I need to buck up and go in there."

Mariah wiped the tears away, though her eyes were still red. She put the car in reverse and with a heavy foot, she propelled us back up the winding drive.


"Tim," was the soft word spoken with joy from my grandmother's lips.


I rushed to her, sitting on the edge of her bed. It took all my reserve strength to put a mask of happiness on my face, when I felt the shock of seeing this once vibrant healthy woman now reduced to a mere shadow of her former self. Even Mariah's words had not prepared me for this.

She tried to sit, but I stopped her. I leaned over, slid my hands under her back, and pulled her into my arms.

"I love you Grandma," I managed to choke out.

I found my body rhythmically rocking as I held her, just as she had done with me, whenever I'd come to her, hurt or in pain. There was so little of her now. My heart broke as I remembered the last time I felt her body. It seemed incredible that only three years ago, her skin was lithe with muscles under the surface.

Mariah's voice broke my thoughts, "I need to go to your father's pharmacy for Mom's medicine. He gives it to us. He has never charged us a cent, Tim. Some times, he will hand me a box of the hard candies that he knows she likes. He's a good man Tim. He just needs someone to appreciate him."

I found my throat choked with emotion for my grandmother and now, as my Aunt Mary's words came back to me, my estimation of my father's worth increased. All I could do was nod to Mariah.

"Mom, I'll be right back."

I felt her move her arm in a wave, "Yes dear, I know. Don't worry; I'll be waiting for you."

I turned to Mariah and could see the first sign of tears as she quickly turned and ran to the car.

I felt my grandmother pat my back, "There, there. Are you alright now."

I let her lay back and looked into her eyes. Deep in the steel blue, I could still make out the spark that was once so brilliant.

"Yes Grandma," I said. "I am now, now that I'm back with you."

"Now, Now. None of that sappy stuff. I get enough of it with Mariah.

"Tim, I have things to tell you, I need to finish putting my affairs together. Now that you're here I can close everything up in a nice neat package."

"Grandma, I don't..."

She put a finger to my lips. "I'll do the talking, you listen.

"The house and land around it will go to Mariah. The farmland will be split between Mariah and Lilly. There is a stipulation, the land can not be sold for fifty years after my death and should something happen to either your mother or Mariah, the land is to go to you."

"Grandma, you're tired, why don't you rest, you can tell me all this later."

"There is plenty of time for me to rest later. Now, time is precious."

There was the sound of car tires, and a car door being slammed. I was thinking it couldn't be Mariah, not that fast.

The front door was pushed open and there with a scowl on her face, was my mother.

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