How does a town happen upon a particular obsession? Arrive, as I did, unsuspectingly in Kentville, NS late one late October evening and one's impression is at first of a charming community with exemplary family values.
Look, there in the field is a soccer match happening with a full 11 a side-and, for a moment, you don't notice that not one of the players is actually moving or that it's actually too dark outside to even see the ball. Then, on your way into the old centre of this Nova Scotian Annapolis Valley community-with its grand, ornate houses wrapped in handsome verandas-you pass a pair of cyclists and it startles you, again; not because they are without helmets on their very big heads, but because they're not moving, either.
You still don't make the connection, because it is dark and you are concentrating on the road and its gentle dips and curves and where to find that B&B you booked. Suddenly you pass two thieves in action climbing the side wall and they have sacks of loot over their shoulders and are about to break and enter into a family's upstairs window-and you drive on in high nervousness not knowing what to do and then you summon your courage and turn around to catch...
...to catch the pumpkin people! These modern-day scarecrows, you realize, like the soccer players in the field and the cyclists still motionless, are real-life built figments of this extraordinary town's pumpkin imagination. The full-sized straw figures with their pumpkin heads, in mischievous costumes and poses, are this spooky town's autumnal celebration of the Harvest Festival and of impending Halloween.
You wonder, for a moment, if strange spirits have possessed Kentville. In a sense, they have-and you, too, for now you have started to laugh with them. As you spot an elderly pumpkin couple frozen in conversation on a bench, and the pumpkin family eating a nighttime picnic on a blanket on another home's front lawn, you change your ways and begin to search for the pumpkin people.
You feel at ease with these, your pagan Kentville cousins. And you are grateful, in this day and age when so many places feel the same, for the surprise and idiosyncrasy of this quiet Nova Scotian town and its moment of roguish seasonal madness. No one planned this town's particular obsession - it's wildly creative use of excess pumpkins from the fields. The people just do it, and you are glad that they do.
Noah Richler is a CBC radio documentary maker and the prize-winning author of This is My Country, What's Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada. He is a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail, the National Post, The Walrus magazine and the BBC World Service.
Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/