We harvest the pumpkins by candlelight when the moon hangs full over the black trees and the wind is cold. The goblins steal them otherwise. The stories say they see where we take them if we harvest during the day, and any other night they’d be in the fields themselves, stealing them anyway. So we all come out together, on the last night of the eighth month, to harvest them all at once.
Some of the vines are already broken, too dry or too weak to hold onto their fat pumpkins for so long. The goblins stole those. The rest are waiting for us, and we plant candles along the edges of the fields, line every row, and being the harvest.
Leaves rustle in the wind, and the night flows around us. The rest are singing, long, slow, sad songs of lovers lost and nights too cold for comfort, but I only listen. I like to hear the songs, hear the music of the leaves and the wind, hear the branches whispering together and the owls hooting in the darkness.
Harvest is my favorite time of the year. Some of the younger girls are afraid to come and work with us. They don’t like the thought of the goblins watching from the trees, and the boys have surely told them a few ghost stories to stir them up, but their mothers make them come anyway. We need everyone to bring in the pumpkins. The draft horses haul the wagons slowly through the field, and we collect them and pile them inside. The elders say the knives we carry are to ward off the goblins, but really, we only need them for the rougher, thicker stems.
The candles keep the goblins away. And the moon. We won’t need the knives for that.