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No, that’s not the title of my latest book. It’s a bonafide neighborhood mystery.

Although we live in the Garden State, our community is not known for its plots of open land. We’re right on top of one another. We therefore get creative when it comes to gardening. I have an herb garden in three containers on my deck–sweet basil, chives, parsley, dill, oregano, mint, and sad, sad cilantro which browned over within two weeks of planting. I never claimed to have a green thumb.

My Asian neighbor, on the other hand, has a thick, prodigious vine with enormous leaves and bright yellow-orange blooms. At first, I thought it might be pumpkin, not only for its appearance, but for its location, growing along the side of the house amongst a hedge. Some kid might have dumped a rotting jack-o-lantern there last fall.

The vine has consumed the hedge and jumped onto a neighboring cherry tree, wrapping around the branches and soaring ever higher. And there, hanging down for all to admire, a lonely, giant green squash.

It’s shape reminds me of a bowling pin, thinner at the top, heavy at the bottom. It has a dark green color and no discernible pattern.

Just what is it?

And when will they pick it?

The “squash stroll” is our evening entertainment. We hurry along the sidewalk to the tree, to see if the giant vegetable still remains. And each day, it hangs there, fueling our curiousity. The Asian neighbors are not to be found.

Today my toddler and I found a second squash lying across the thickest branches of the hedge, as if it were taking a nap. It has grown quietly while its sibling hangs proudly for all the neighborhood to see.

So, please tell me, what is it? What kind of vegetable? How do you prepare it? What does it taste like?

Perhaps I should ring the doorbell and ask. But sometimes figuring out a mystery is so much more fun.

(Update! Today I met the young Chinese girl who lives at the house. She did call the vegetable a squash, but she could not recall the English word for it. She says it tastes like pumpkin. I would still like to find out the name! And I neglected to ask her when it would be harvested!)

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