Pumpkin Spice & Plague – Monday Morning Musings

fictionAbout this time last year, I bought a bag of pumpkin and ghost shaped marshmallows. My kids enjoyed them, as something different and special, but there was nothing terribly strange or interesting about the bag. They were still marshmallows, just with different shapes.

So last week, when I saw a bag of pumpkin shaped marshmallows again at the grocery store (no witches this time), I added them to the cart and brought them home. My son was excited and immediately asked if he could have one. I gave him three. I tried one or two as well.

They were absolutely disgusting!

It was like eating a marshmallow soaked in that air freshening gel that plugs into the outlet… Don’t ask me how I know what that tastes like. I just do.

I grabbed the bag and scanned the package. What in the heck was wrong with these marshmallows? Then I saw it. In orange letters, so dim that I had mistaken them for decoration, were those infamous words: Pumpkin Spice Flavored.

Now, I have been sick since last Sunday and my sense of taste and smell have been greatly diminished. It started with a terrible sore throat and progressed into several days of sneezing, dizziness, and constant snot. Slowly, I have beaten back this dreadful disease and feel mostly like myself again this morning. My wife is now however, stuck in bed with a terrible sore throat. Unfortunately, I think I know what comes next. We will see her amongst the living again… in about a week.

My in-laws were here for the weekend and were planning to stay through tomorrow. They were going to go antique shopping today, go to my kids karate lessons tonight, and take us out to dinner afterwards. Seeing as how the plague has descended on my house, they just packed up in record time and fled for the hills. My kids are going to be upset when they get home from school and find that they are gone, but we will manage. There are pumpkins to carve, costumes to finish, boards to break in karate, and candy to eat. We did get to go trick-or-treating at the zoo yesterday, and they had a lot of fun. So at least there was that.

This will be our last trip to the Columbus Zoo for a while, our one year membership expires at the end of the month. It was totally worth the price we paid, since we went probably twenty times this year, but we have now pretty much seen everything. It was nice to go for a few hours every couple of weeks, and not have to stress about getting through it all. If it was closer (we live about an hour away) then we would probably keep the membership and I would be happy to go there and write on nice days. The aquarium, when empty of people, is incredibly relaxing. With both kids in school however, we can only go on the weekends, like the rest of the civilized world, and it is very very crowded. So we are going to take a break and maybe explore other cool things to do.

That is the plan, but it probably won’t happen. There is always too much to do. School, homework, books to read, books to write, boards to break, floors to sweep, laundry to do, dishes to wash, sickness, plague, and in-laws.

Life is full of things that need doing. So it seems to me that we should not waste time (or money) on crappy pumpkin spice flavored marshmallows. But for some reason, amidst the hustle and bustle of the morning, after the protestations of a sleepy son (and the subsequent feats of falling down the stairs, bumping his knee on the table, and dropping a heavy book on his foot), and the froggy croaks of my wife asking for Tylenol and tea, I decided to give these accursed marshmallows a second chance. Maybe they aren’t supposed to be eaten straight from the package. Maybe they serve a different purpose all together.

I do have reliable earplugs, the kind that does not attract ants, so that line of experimentation was right out. But there was already hot water for the tea, and I scrounged up a leftover bag of hot cocoa powder in the cabinet from last winter. Marshmallows belong in hot chocolate, right? So I gave it a try…

This time, it was surprisingly good!

As I wrote this morning’s post, I drank down the entire mug, melted marshmallows and all. They gave the hot chocolate a pleasant hint of autumnal spice, the subtlest taste of pumpkin lingering beneath the chocolate, and they did not taste like a liquid air freshener in the least!

Sometimes things just need a second chance. A closer look. A change of circumstances. Maybe nothing in life can be evaluated completely own its own merits, but must be considered in the context of that which surrounds it. Maybe that is too deep and dangerous for a sneezy Monday morning. Thoughts like that will have me finding the merits in a week long bout of sickness and snot. I seem to have gotten too good at turning disappointments into delusional opportunities, and that can’t be healthy for my veneer of grumpy cynicism. I must tread carefully before it all becomes sunshine and unicorns farting rainbows.

But maybe, just maybe, even pumpkin spice has its proper place in the world. Maybe, under the right circumstances, it can even be a boon to society.

Nah! That’s gotta be the plague talking… Or the chocolate.


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