The Sandman: More Farm Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Squash Story

dropcap image NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and it was painted white and had green blinds; and it stood not far from the road. In the fence was a wide gate to let the wagons through to the barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a little track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

One morning in the spring, after the garden field was all ploughed and harrowed and ready to be planted, Uncle John went out to the barn, and he took down from a peg in the loft a little bag of squash seeds. Then he got his hoe and little John came and took the bag of squash seeds, and they both walked across the little track and across the grass place to the garden field.

Then Uncle John made little holes in the dirt with his hoe handle, all along in the edge of the garden. The holes were just about as far apart as one of little John's steps. And little John went along behind with the bag of squash seeds, and he dropped a seed in each hole and covered it over with dirt. And when seeds were planted all along the edge of the garden, Uncle John and little John went away and left them.

And the rain fell upon the garden and the sun shone and warmed the ground, and the squash seeds began to grow. And after awhile, little stems pushed up through the dirt, and on the top of each stem were two little leaves, folded together and down against the stem. But when they got out into the sunlight, the two little leaves stood up and unfolded, and some more leaves began to come between those two, and the stem grew longer and more leaves kept coming. And when the stems were about as high as little John's knees, they began to bend over and lie down upon the ground. And Uncle John stuck little sticks into the ground, so as to make the vines go the way he wanted them to.


Uncle John stuck little sticks into the ground.

He wanted them to go over toward the wall and away from the other things in the garden. For that kind of squash vine grows very long, and they would have covered up a great many things in the garden.

So the vines kept on growing and more leaves kept coming, and they were great enormous leaves, as big as little John's big straw hat. And pretty soon there were some big yellow flowers on the vines. Then the bees came, and they went into these flowers, first into one and then into another, and they got some yellow powder on their backs from one flower and that scraped off into another, and when the yellow flowers withered up and dropped off, there were little squashes where some of them had been. At first these squashes were about as big as little John's fist, but they grew very fast, and the vines got longer and longer, and when they came to the wall, they climbed right up the wall and over the top and down on the other side. And they grew along the grass place toward the little track, and more little squashes started and grew bigger and bigger until, at the end of the summer, some of them were bigger than the long leather footballs that little boys play with now. The squashes were almost as big as watermelons, and they looked a good deal like watermelons, only not so smooth. They weren't the kind that is round and yellow, but they were long, and green on the outside. And when Aunt Deborah cut them open to use, they were bright yellow on the inside.

When the summer was all over, and things had stopped growing and it was beginning to get cold, the squash vines dried and withered, and the leaves all withered. Then Uncle John got the wheelbarrow from the shed and he wheeled it over across the little track and across the grass place, and there he stopped. And he began to gather the squashes. Each squash had a great strong stem, as big as little John's wrist. And Uncle John took the squash by the stem and it broke off the withered vine, and he put the squash into the wheelbarrow. The squashes were so big that the wheelbarrow wouldn't hold many of them, and when it was full, Uncle John wheeled it over to the kitchen door.

Then he took the best and the biggest of the squashes, and he tied a strong string to the stem of each one, and he took them into the cellar and hung them on pegs that were stuck into the great logs that held up the floors. And when he had hung up all the first load, he went back to the garden field and got another load, and so he did until he had gathered all the squashes. And the best and the biggest he hung in the cellar to use in the winter, and when he had hung up enough for all the people that lived in the farm-house, all they would want to eat all winter, he put the rest of the squashes in the store-house to take to market. So they had enough squashes to last all winter and a lot to take to market besides.

And that's all.