Each spring day, Tasha took her Seeing Eye dog, Goldie, for a walk. Her favorite part of the walk was passing Suzumi’s house.
Suzumi was always out in his yard. “How are you and Goldie today?” he would ask.
“We’re fine,” Tasha always answered. “How is your garden?”
Suzumi told her that he was edging his flower bed, or pruning his bushes, or digging around his trees. One day he said, “The sky is blue and the earth is warm and the snow has melted off Mica Peak. It is time to plant my pumpkins.”
Tasha nodded. She felt a warm breeze blowing against her cheek and smelled the sweet fragrance of apple blossoms—it was pumpkin-planting time.
“Tasha,” Suzumi asked, “would you like to plant a pumpkin?”
“Tomorrow?” she asked.
“The day after tomorrow. Tomorrow I must till the ground to soften the earth so that it is ready to receive the seed. You will hear the sound of my tiller when you walk by tomorrow.”
On the day of the planting, Tasha told Goldie to lie down and wait under the apple tree. Suzumi took Tasha’s hand and led her to the spot he had prepared for the pumpkin seeds.
He placed a pumpkin seed in her left hand. She touched its surface with the third finger of her right hand.
“It is like silk,” she said.
“Bend down,” Suzumi said, “make a little hole with your finger, place the seed in the hole, then gently cover it up.”
As Tasha patted the earth over the seed, the soil felt warm and soft under her hands. She placed a marker by her seed so that she could find it again.
She called Goldie and whispered in her ear, “Suzumi says that our pumpkin will be large and round and that we will be proud to show it to Mother.”
The next day, Suzumi showed Tasha where to stand with the hose to water her pumpkin plant.
A few days later, he guided her hands to feel the soft green shoot that had come up where she had planted the seed.
Another day he taught her how to feel the difference between a weed and her pumpkin plant. He showed her how to pull the weeds and how to hoe around her pumpkin plant.
On one very special day, he put her hand around a tiny pumpkin. Her very own pumpkin was starting to grow!
All summer Suzumi and Tasha hoed, weeded, and watered their pumpkins. Every day Tasha felt her pumpkin and knew that it was growing just as Suzumi had said it would.
Finally it was harvesttime.
“Tomorrow,” Suzumi said, “bring your red wagon when you come. It is time to take your pumpkin home.”
Long before he saw Tasha, Suzumi heard her wagon bump-bump-bumping toward the pumpkin patch.
“Bring it over here,” he called.
Tasha heard a thunk as Suzumi put the large pumpkin into her wagon.
“Your mother will be proud of your pumpkin,” Suzumi told her. “It is entirely your pumpkin. You planted it, weeded it, hoed it, and watered it.”
Tasha clasped her arms around it. Her fingers just touched like they did when she hugged her mother around the waist.
“How does it feel?” Suzumi asked.
Tasha hugged her pumpkin tighter. She laid her cheek against it. “It feels warm and round and good,” she said. “Like love.”