Here’s a tale about that year Gretchen turned in a crop of blue pumpkins to the county fair. No wonder Mildred’s suspicion of magical tampering runs high in episode two, Of Hair and No Hair.
Gretchen had decided against the orange paint tucked away in the cart on the trip over to the county fair. There was nothing in the rule book that stated the pumpkins must be orange, but there was a strict no-tampering policy.
And this time, she could hand-on-heart say that she had not meddled with those pumpkins since planting them. She’d done it well before then. Gretchen never suspected that seed charm would have turned her pumpkin harvest bright blue.
She narrowed her eyes at the canvas sheet covering her crop. The others had all asked about it, and she’d given the same answer. There was nothing that stated she had to leave them in the sun all day, and she wouldn’t have them spoiling.
Nora gave her a level stare as she approached with her measuring tape, the entourage of onlookers and contestants following her. She’d given her pal the same nonsense, and Gretchen supposed the only thing that held her back from insisting she uncover them was not wanting to know what she’d done. Her position as the judge of the country fair put their friendship in a precarious position most years.
“Well?” she nodded toward the canvas. “You expect me to measure them like that?”
Mildred snickered, already gloating from her impressive measurements, then pressed her lips together. “Nothing to be ashamed of. We can see quite clearly they aren’t anything to write home about.”
Gretchen refrained from grinding her teeth. Mildred. Always with those snippy remarks. With a deep breath, she turned and braced herself as she flipped the canvas over.
It was dead silent, then the crowd burst into laughter.
“What is the meaning of this?” Nora growled.
Gretchen turned with her hands held up. “I swear, this new ‘trick’ I heard, watering pumpkins with blueberry juice, isn’t half as good as I thought it would be.”
It brought more laughter from the crowd, and only Nora and Mildred looked outraged.
“Blue this time?” Mildred curled her lip at Nora. “And what’s next? Square pumpkins next year? You can’t honestly believe this blueberry juice nonsense.”
Nora rubbed the bridge of her nose, her face stony, and she took a minute to consider the situation. “Gretchen Murkwood, the kitchen at the Baron’s estate deals in pumpkins bigger than those. Do you honestly wish to enter these into the competition?”
Gretchen considered the words carefully. If she said no, they wouldn’t be scrutinized. If Nora decided they had been interfered with, she could be disqualified for next year’s fair. And she was right, they were barely worth bringing at all. It was only the hope of the other contestants all encountering some kind of horrendous vegetable blight that had decided her. That, and pride.
“Well of course not,” Gretchen waved a hand. “These ones are prizes for the winners. And I’d certainly like to see what the bakers come up with. Blue pumpkin pies will be the talk of the town!”
Mildred looked as though she was sucking a lemon, and Nora only shook her head. They moved on in the procession and Gretchen dug out a fistful of seeds from her pocket.
“Never trusting that darn spell book again.” She threw them over her shoulder, and hoped next year she would be standing among a sprawling vine of blue pumpkins. It would be worth it just to see the look on Mildred’s face.
Was anyone ever going to believe her?
I think not. But we all know Gretchen did not learn the lesson she needed to (if you have read Of Hair and No Hair.)
I’ll be adding more bonus bits to the blog each week, so be sure to check back in on the episode page to keep up to date.
Haven’t read it yet? No problem. You can find Of Hair and No Hair on Amazon here.