Out of Your Gourd

Last weekend I was tracking the nuthatches as they flitted between my house and my elderly neighbor's yard. He walked out and told me to "C'mon out back, I have something that might make a good photo."

He opened the door to his little "greenhouse" and proudly displayed all these fantastic gourds that he had grown this year in his garden. He also grows "loofah" or "vegetable sponges" and had some hanging on his clothesline. He breaks the "loofah" by hand and washes and washes them until they are soft and pliable. His old hands must be very strong, and I thought about asking him if I could photograph them. But he is very private. He is also going deaf, so you are never sure if he understands what you say to him.

For a man in his mid 80's he is very active. He grows all his own vegetables and fruit. I see people stopping during the summer to buy tomatoes and raspberries. I am the lucky recipient of cucumbers and berries when he is harvesting. I have reciprocated by baking him something like a cobbler, but not often enough.

He does a lot of wood craft in his attic. He makes puzzles and Christmas Tree Ornaments and sends them to craft shows. When my grandchildren come to visit he often shares a little wooden toy with them.

Reluctantly, he has told a few stories about his World War II service as a Marine in the Pacific theater. He fought on Saipan.

This past year I've noticed that he has needed to rest more often. One of his daughters gave him a great lawn chair that can be adjusted to about any angle. That's where I see him when I come home from work, or look out in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

The Mrs. died a few years ago after a valiant fight with cancer. Now he would be alone except for his faithful dog Allie and his huge garden. He doesn't want visitors because they put a kink in his routine. Traveling or visiting his family is not on the agenda either. He rides his bicycle to the store for staples or necessities and that's as far as he wants to go.

Some of the neighbors that don't know the old fellow very well think that he is "out of his gourd." That is a term we would use when we were kids to describe someone who wasn't completely in his right mind.

It is true that he is a very unique person. He is the product of a different era and lifestyle. But he isn't out of his Gourd.

And if the photograph is any evidence, you could say he has more gourd than the rest of us neighbors altogether.


Jenny said…
Wow. All of that from one garden?!

That's insane.

And awesome.

But I've never really understood...what do people do with gourds?
Aurora said…
I followed you over from Vaughn's blog.

This is an excellent write, a quality account told just right.
Pamela said…
Gourd Crafts is a web site that gives you ideas about gourd crafts. I've seen a few painted ones that were beautiful. And just so you won't go away without a smile... here are some Other gourds ideas
M J said…
I heart gourds. One of my favorite things about fall.

Pamela.. the gourd penis' made me fall off my chair laughing... maybe we can get someone to model one. Wonder if there are gourds in Australia...? Maybe we should ask Willowtree...?
Gattina said…
While I were reading this, I thought you were talking about my american uncle. He exactly lived the same way (besides the garden things and he had no children, I were his child) Until his 94th he did everything by himself. When my aunt died (he had been a widower for 16 years), he started modelling pieces of woods to cute little animals and sold them. He was mowing his lawn until his 88 and then complained that it was SO expensive to pay 2$ to have it done. He cooked for himself and did the household. He was very interested in ancestors research and found out that my aunts great great grandfather and his were brothers ! He also was almost deaf and had a hearing help which he switched off mostly because people anyway only talked about stupid things. He also had been in both world wars and had served the whole world around, except Germany. There he had never been. Soldiers from german origin were not sent to fight there, because they still could have relatives there and then maybe not do a good job. He died at 95 peacefully. Until then, he never forgot our birthdays and bravely wrote once a month, just like a brave pupil reporting what he had done in all details. But I have never seen him again since my aunt died, because it would have caused to much trouble in his daily life. They lived since 1952 in Madison Wisc. and we have been there very often. Thats why I know and have seen such a lot of America. And I still have friends in Madison, one couple has already visited us twice.
Pamela said…
MJ, I knew about the gourd penis cover because we have some "forever" friends that live in Irian Jaya. They have teased the hubby about bringing him home one.

Oh Gattina... sounds so much like my neighbor but he has 4 daughters, 2 sons. He told me he prefers that they just stop in briefly. Your uncle sounds like he was interested in relatives and keeping in touch.
Karmyn R said…
WOW - That's a lot of freaking gourds. I was excited about having a total of 10 in my garden.

You should get pics of his zinnias and sunflowers in the summer.
Pass the Torch said…
Gorgeous! Think of all the birdfeeders they'd make!

Curt brought one home from a friend's once and thought it was really cool when he opened it up. Not at all like a pumpkin or squash. It was virtually empty.
Heather said…
What a fun man! Sounds a little like my neighbor, who is a beekeeper. Bad luck for my husband, who has gotten stung too many times. Good luck for me, who loves honey.
CyberCelt said…
Happy C&C Monday. I still have gourds from last year that I have not decorated. I made one into a deer corn scooper and my husband whittled on one for awhile.

I would love to be able to make the beatiful gourd baskets, pots, sculpture and art that I see.
Robin said…
Sounds like a lovely neighbor...the both of you. How sweet that he thought you might like to photograph his bounty? I think he watches you about as much as you watch him. Which is kinda nice (as long as it doesn't get creepy).
Susan in va said…
Impressive! He's definitely got more gourd than me!
Shauna said…
Wow! That's a lot of gourds! You say he does crafts - so he will do crafts with these?
It's nice that he does the gardening, etc. to keep himself busy. . .
LOL to MJ! ! ! I busted up laughing too!
Vicki said…
name one word that rhymes with Gourd!
Claudia said…
those are a lot of gourds!! In the seconds picture, they remind me of ducks...gourd ducks.
Heather said…
I have a beautiful carved gourd vase that I bought in Kenya. It's one of my favourite possessions.

Sounds like an interesting neighbour. Aren't we all a little out of our gourds?
SongBird said…
Wow!! What a harvest! Your neighbor sounds so neat. (I read your first paragraph too fast and thought the little nuthatch called you over to look at his harvest.)
Anonymous said…
Bored rhymes with gourd. Or board. I wonder if that counts as two words. Anyway - I was going to say, Pamela, you take spectacular photos. I just love them!

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