Pumpkins And Bumpkins

By Gordon Hughes


Have you begun to notice the days are growing shorter in the Village? This is even before daylight savings time ends. I do look forward to the Fall but it is kind of sad too. As I write this missive it’s 93 degrees outside. There is a dazzling blue sky, with tons of Villagers and tourists walking around in shorts, flip-flops, tank tops, as well their kids in similar attire­and even a few dogs with footwear to protect their paws from the searing sidewalks. 

But yet there are very subtle indications that Fall is in the air. Flowers in the street tree boxes have a tired look, not wilting yet but drooping. The same goes for the trees themselves. There are a few golden leaves but only a few so far. I have noticed that in stores ranging from Rite Aid, Walgreens and Duane Read to some of our wonderful boutique shops, a variety of Halloween paraphernalia is showing up. Seems a tad early for that but you know how the Village does love Halloween. So next on the “this time of the year” calendar will be the decoration of the co-ops, brownstones, houses and condos. 

Each year an amazing transformation takes place on the buildings. I have already seen a few, just a few. It seems to me after living in the Village for 24 years that Halloween decor on buildings has taken on a rather competitive spirit. When I first moved into the West Village, there were a few pumpkins and even a few bumpkins on the front stoops. There might have been some cobwebs with spiders. Not anymore. Today it’s a major building overhaul. The whole Village takes on a unique look. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. My favorite coffee joint is still Panino Mucho Gusto and their new morning Autumn coffees are beginning to be introduced. Coffees with pumpkin and cinnamon flavors are being added. In anticipation of the first cold snap, I notice that coat racks are being brought out despite the still warm/hot weather. 

Now one of the other things I have observed of late are Villagers returning from their summer vacations post Labor Day. As I sit at my vantage point at Panino Mucho Gusto sipping my latte, I watch their arrivals. They arrive in limos, Ubers and other types of black cars. And, of course, by taxi or their own vehicles. The unloading of these vehicles is amazing. This unloading takes place for me at the corner of Perry and Hudson. The choreography of this activity is like a ballet gone wrong but is ubiquitous throughout the West Village. Tennis rackets, canoes, sport shoes. Oh my God, the shoes of all kinds; golf, hiking, tennis, crock, espadrilles, even boating shoes. Sleeping bags, fishing rods and reels. Pickle ball equipment has been the newest addition to the summer fun activities. 

Empty cans of bug spray fall out of the many back packs clattering into the streets. Which brings me to the homecoming of the dogs, who inevitably run off their leashes with summer garments in their mouths. Socks, shorts and, of course, unwashed underwear, a dog’s favorite. Mothers trying to gather the children. Fathers trying to control the animals. My guess, the vacation has been totally forgotten. Forgotten until the family regroups around a fire in the living room and screens their photos from their iPhones with cider and a turkey dinner. By then the woolen goods will be out and those coat racks I mentioned will be in full use. I imagined all this yesterday as I noticed the sun setting just a little bit earlier.