Mundane Moments: The Porch of Secrets and the Pumpkin of Fire.

My maternal grandpa was a well-meaning but mediocre photographer, skilled at bringing the shutter down a moment too early or late, or in taking pictures of things that were not as quirky or offbeat (or well-lit) as he thought.

I’m going to dredge some of his efforts out of the family scrapbooks where they sit unappreciated, and bring them out for contemplation.

Another installment, then.

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All day the little boy had felt something strange coming, a sense in his bones that unusual things were about to happen.

But he hadn’t expected the ragged-looking yet somehow friendly giant to step out from behind the bushes and corner him just as he went outside to play.

“You didn’t know I was coming for you,” the giant said, reading the lad’s confused expression in an instant. “Your parents haven’t been giving you your mail, have they?”

“I… I … mail?”

“Never you mind,” the giant said, emitting a vast, vaguely peaty sigh.

Then he hunched down to the boy’s level and began to explain.

“You have secret powers,” he burred, in an exotic accent quite dissimilar to the nasal tones of the lad’s hometown. “You are a wizard, boy. A special wizard. An agricultural wizard. The soil is your dominion. The worm and the cowflop are your allies … corn rot and drought, your implacable foes.

“People very close to you gave their lives for you to inherit this power. Enemies of the soil do not want you to thrive. Your life is in danger, laddie. Make no mistake. That scar beneath your puddin-bowl haircut? You didn’t really get that falling off a teeter-totter.

I’ll be back in the morning to take you to the academy. Pack your things. There is wizarding to be learned and no time to be lost.

“For now, keep this gourd. Hold it close. It is your destiny.

“I’ll be back.”

And then a puff of smoke … dissipating in the early autumn wind, leaving only a slack-jawed little boy, slowly awakening to his special, life-changing gift and its heavy responsibilities.



Penfield, New York, 1974.

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