The days of my Ohio homesteading adventure I miss the most are the days when something went wrong. It was only in the disasters that my one-sixth acre farm revealed its magic. The cover of my debut novel, Strawberry shifters book 1: Bear with Me, is a mystical interpretation of one of those days. While Alison the Green Witch uses her inherited magic to grow pumpkins, I used a series of coincidences to make my pumpkins fly.
Inspired by the 1960’s television show “Good Neighbors”, my spouse and I tore out the backyard grass from our suburban home. We constructed a fence around our mud pit and hoped the Machiavellian homeowners association (HOA) didn’t look too closely. It was a neighborhood of old money with a famous golf course on one end and a nationally ranked high school on the other. We had received a nasti-gram from them for letting our trash cans burn the corner of our lawn. When we ignored the letters, someone spray-painted the twelve-inch circle green under the cloak of darkness.
My husband was upset when he found that all the vines I had planted were butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash. He wanted a Halloween pumpkin to carve and place on our porch, right under the noses of the HOA. I didn’t see this as a reason to grow pumpkins in our micro-farm. A few sweet words from his dimpled smile, and I was starting pumpkin seeds. Where to put them? We used companion planting in lieu of pesticides so we didn’t accidentally poison ourselves. Every square inch of the backyard was planned for maximal growth conditions sans pumpkins. In a huff, I planted the pumpkins under the pignoli nut (Italian pine) trees at the end of our yard. With a sinister chuckle, I planned for the constant shade to kill them.
The vines flourished into a florescent green superhighway system. The opposite side of the trees was the edge of a paved church parking lot, so I thought no harm was done. They will crowd themselves to suffocation. I was delighted when the ROUSes (giant groundhogs) of Ohio ate the blossoms and were too full to eat from our farm. The pumpkins were serving a purpose.
It was a day in late November when we saw the first UFO. My husband and I were planting fall garlic when our neighbor ran out with his camera. He showed us the forty-pound pumpkin swinging about six-feet off the ground. We laughed but noticed it had a friend in the neighboring tree. Climbing the tree to retrieve the second UFO, I found several smaller pumpkins nestled in the tree branches. Meanwhile, my neighbor and spouse were laughing in the church parking lot with the reverend of the church.
I joined them to view the pumpkins swinging from all the pine trees in the periphery of the parking lot. The church sold them as a fundraiser and defended us against the HOA. The reverend called it one of God’s miracles. My spouse called it my magic. It was this moment that gave birth to Alison the Green Witch and my (own voices) main character in Strawberry Shifters Book 1: Bear with Me.