Kelly Clarkson rocks!!
Check out her cover of
Walkin After Midnight.
Patsy Cline is still one of my favorite artists and
Video is no longer up.... if anyone knows where this can be located let me know!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gourds: Fact or fiction

*** WARNING: This post is insanely long. It rambles on in a few points and then grinds to a complete halt. Sorry. ***

Ok, here we go. Today's topic, if it can even be considered that, is on gourds. Perhaps a little history on the gourd. Please be aware that I am looking at Wikipedia and one other website for my information. Or in layman terms; If it ain't right, it ain't my fault!

So what is a gourd? I think we all know what a gourd is but I mean really, what the hell is it? We can take two different tacks on this. If we refer to Mr. Webster (He is such the know-it-all) then the primary definition is as follows:

Any of a family (Cucurbitaceae, the gourd family) of chiefly herbaceous tendril-bearing vines including the cucumber, melon, squash, and pumpkin

So a gourd is any one of a wide variety of edible plants. Many, if not all, of us have taken part in the mutilation of a pumpkin (Come on now, you know you loved it), the dissection of a melon, the drowning of a cucumber (Pickles Rock!), or the ummm... - dammit I am out of good verbs - consumption of a tasty squash casserole. No matter how many times I rewrite that last sentence I always fail when I get to the squash. Probably because it is not one of my favorite foods. Ah well, we can't win them all.

{Editors Note: The writer of this blog has an affinity (obsession really) with all things Halloween. It tends to spill over into other areas of his life (making court appointments tricky under the best of circumstances). The writer is not a violent person (unless you consider the way he attacked that bucket of KFC the other day) and does not condone or endorse violence in any way (except for the aforementioned bucket of fried chicken and the occasional Mississippi Mud Pie)}

But is that the only type of gourd out there? Of course not or this post would be done already. So moving on....

But Mike? - you might be saying - I thought a gourd was that dried out thing most commonly used as a bird house but also, historically speaking, used as a container, cup, ladle or any one of a thousand household items before the advent of pottery?

To which I could only reply; You are quite correct on that point, but it is not quite so simple. You see way back in the day (and by way back I mean a long time ago... and by a long time ago I mean some time before the internet, but after the time when T-Rex had a hard time brushing his teeth) the gourd was more of a tool and utility item.

Before we go on too much further I should ask Mr. Webster for the second part of his definition. Luckily he is quite compliant in this regard. He said:

Any of various hard-rinded inedible fruits of plants of two genera (Lagenaria and Cucurbita) often used for ornament or for vessels and utensils

Wow Mike! You seem to know a lot of stuff. What else can you tell me about gourds? - you would say -

You see mankind has always had stuff. Not stuff like we have today. I mean come on, if cavemen had ipods, would we have ever made it to the bronze age? I think not. Most likely because he would have been jamming out to Led Zeppelin or Judas Priest and never saw the saber-tooth tiger coming.

Unless he was listening to Britney Spears in which case, he deserves to be eaten.

So mankind had stuff. Food, water, and usually a healthy collection of bones, teeth, and assorted rocks. Now given the fact that pockets didn't really make an appearance until a wee bit later he had to have a way to carry all this stuff around. Enter, the Gourd. Now I have no clue how this came about but if i were a betting man I would think that early man stumbled into a patch and accidentally stepped on one that was dried out already. In fact he probably thought it was good for protecting his feet, at least until he tried to walk and the gourd fell to pieces (Early man was not noted for his overall intelligence. And before you ladies laugh neither were the women. How bright can you be to let a man move you into a cave full of dirt, bugs, rodents, and no air conditioning?)

Caveman 1: Ugh, Gortil mirguchuk.
Caveman 2: Huh?
Caveman 1: Sorry, was kinda surprised for a sec. So anyway, look what I stepped in.
Caveman 2: Wow. It covers your foot really well. Perhaps it will provide adequate protection while you move around.
Caveman 1: That sounds like a fine idea. Let me try it out.

After a few steps;

Caveman 1. Hmmm, it didn't work so well.
Cavemen 2: Well look at this over here. There are some seeds in this one. Perhaps we can use it for carrying stuff around?
Caveman 1: That is a damned fine idea. Carrying all these bones in my shorts is quite painful.

Ok, we know it did not happen quite like that. Cavemen didn't speak proper English. So it started way back when. In fact there is archeological evidence showing that early man used the inedible gourd for a variety of things including prostheses for wounds/surgery on the head. Of course that last comment begs the question, what did they use before settling on the gourd? I'll let you mull that one over in private. My ideas might be considered disgusting, crude, or downright icky (Dried bat wings!).

So gourds became a useful tool that would not soon go away. Even the discovery of pottery did not diminish the need for the gourd. Pottery was expensive and reserved for the well-to-do. As a result, the less-than-well-to-do continued to use gourds. I really can't begin to guess when they (gourds) moved from utilitarian to decorative. Given that pottery evolved during different time periods in different regions of the world (The oldest is from China dating back about 18,000 years) it is hard to say. Also, since I have done so little research on the matter I would not feel at all comfortable in throwing out something I totally made up (Editors Note: See the Caveman conversation a little earlier in this post).

I know as a kid growing up in the south it was not at all uncommon to see gourd trees. This was a large pole, stuck in the ground, with anywhere from two to as many as six cross poles at the top. On each of the cross poles were a number of gourds used as bird houses. You would always see a lot of birds in and around these 'trees'. It was interesting to watch the cats parked at the bottom staring intently skyward. Which then became interesting to some of the dogs in the area. The food chain in action. National Geographic could have run an entire season of shows on it.

Gourds also filled another need. You see, the south is awash with one particular animal... especially in the summertime. That would be the bored teenager. Now I am not at all familiar with how things work in the "big city" but here in the country we had to create things to do. Shooting fireworks at one another (Good sir. Bottle rockets at 10 paces!), building ramps to jump our bikes (not motorcycles) over the ditch (Note: The ditch should be defined. This ditch was around 8'-10' deep, 15' across and generally filled with large rocks, broken glass, and usually a healthy population of snakes), fishing, and shooting things.

(Looky, another editors note: They did not shoot any living animals, not for lack of trying but moving targets (Deer, Quail and the like people. Not non-food critters) were just to much trouble so they settled on things that could not get out of the way.)

We will cover the shooting of things. It did not matter to us. Fruits and vegetables worked best because there was an immediate, visceral representation of a hit (It might be noted a friend came into possession of a large quantity of Smurf dolls. They 'sploded real good). Gourds could be found all over the place so they were of high value. When the season was right watermelons worked well to. We also used fruits and vegetables as bombing targets. If you carved out the right size hole and inserted an M80 you were in for a real treat. Unless you were too close. then you were rather disappointed in the result. Carrots (Black Cat Firecrackers due to size constraints) hurt by the way. Little bits of orange shrapnel. MEDIC!

Ok, I seem to have gotten off topic. I hope no one minded too much because once I got into this I realized that gourds just aren't that funny. A little on the lame side to be honest. I mean they look funny but it would be like writing about how funny a brick is. Yea, loads of laughter there. And since I said I would write about gourds I felt like I had to do something.


The name looks funny.


The name even sounds funny.

I guess I was wrong on this. Such a long post for so very little payoff. I hope you are not too terribly disappointed. Well then I will ask you, what do you think I should write about next? It could be something from this post, from a previous post, or just something you want to see me struggle my way through. It can be completely serious or totally crazy. Leave a comment, send an email, or hire a skywriter (I would suggest strongly that you avoid that last option simply because of the expense involved AND because you don't know where I live). Or just ignore this post, leave no comment and leave me to fend for myself for a new topic.

I have tons of stories from my childhood and teenage years (Sadly the statute of limitations may not be up on many of them so I will have to be picky there) that I think would make great reading. I will have to change the names to protect the guilty but you would not know anyway. So let me know. I will post a response to the next topic by Friday evening in a new space to the side of this titled Upcoming Topics.

Ok, my 3rd latte just ran out, the coffee shop personnel are giving me strange looks, and the sky is turning black like a huge storm is about to break loose. Yay, lightning.

So I am off for now. Thanks for stopping by and reading this far (or skipping to the bottom here) and have a good day!

Later taters!

(Last editors note, we swear: This blog post was supposed to go somewhere else entirely. Due to the wandering nature of the writers brain the topic didn't flow as well as he would have liked. We will be taking him for some Electro-Shock Therapy in order to prevent this type of mishap again. We apologize profusely.)

(Writers note: The editor was mistaken with his last entry. He can not force me to submit to Electro-Shock Therapy. I will, however, send the editor out for a fatal beating. this should keep him in line for future posts.)


Rae said...

I thought it was quite entertaining especailly those editor's notes.
For post ideas, how about something from your childhood memories. Everyone can relate to that and with the way you tell a story I am sure it will be great.

Lisa Emrich said...

Oh, gourdness-sakes Batman, that was some entertainin' melon 'splodin' I could see in theres my head. Reminds me of shootin' bb's in the back fence, cause you know, bb's don't really do much for 'splodin' things. So I'll haveta think on your stories n'stead.

So, got's ya any bruder tales? Trouble-makin' or the like?

Denver Refashionista said...

Ok, I am not really gourd crazy but I'm glad someone is.

Congrats on the good grades.

Have Myelin? said...

I love Halloween toooooooo, it was my father's birthday! Love the gourdie story.

Gourds R Us!