Every year as the calendar turns to October and fall creeps over the landscape, pumpkins appear en masse. Farmers markets, nurseries, and grocery stores display them in all shapes and sizes that are perfect for carving or simply decorating the front porch. Even my church gets into the act by holding an annual pumpkin sale throughout October.
I like pumpkins. They are pretty, fun to carve, and produce one of my favorite pies. I help unload the huge shipments that duly arrive at church twice in October and readily work my shift in the pumpkin patch. And I never, ever, turn down pumpkin pie. Still, when October arrives, my mind focuses not on pumpkins, but on that other orange orb.
Sweet memories of racing up and down the old wooden court of my high school gym executing a perfect fast break; the beautiful sound of the ball swishing through the net following a perfectly arched free throw; an exquisitely angled bounce pass leading to a backdoor layup; the peculiar combination of smells unique to a basketball arena—-leather, popcorn, and sweat. All are burned into my memory after years as a competitor and even more as a fan. These images, sounds, and smells surface like magic, unbidden, every year when the leaves begin to change. They are always there, hovering on the edge of my mind, enduring memories of a sport I love and the real reason basketball is first in my heart.
Pumpkins last one season; basketball is forever.