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Henry Bartimus stands next to his first-place pumpkin in the Illinois Giant Pumpkin Growers Association Weigh-Off Sept. 26.

That's a Great Pumpkin, Henry Bartimus.

The Effingham native who now lives in Dewitt grew his first big pumpkin in 1994. It weighed 97 pounds.

Twenty-six years later, Bartimus has produced the fifth largest pumpkin ever grown in Illinois. He won first place this year in the Illinois Giant Pumpkin Growers Association Weigh-Off. His monster gourd weighed 1,673 pounds.

We love this time of year, when the air turns brisk and the leaves take on that burnished tinge of autumn; when farmers are in the fields reaping the rewards of their labor; when pumpkins of all shapes and sizes begin appearing on doorsteps and in eerily illuminated windows.

More than once, 2020 has been a year that made us feel like Charlie Brown: "I got a rock."

And when the weight of an election seems heavier than ever and partisan politics muddies the selection of a Supreme Court Justice, the philosophy of Linus rings particularly true: "There are three things that I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin."

Well, perhaps he's right about the first two — they are inducing more furious arguments than ever these days.

But we're happy to offer congratulations to Bartimus for his Great Pumpkin.

And we refuse to give up entirely on the optimism of Linus. Maybe it's that brisk, invigorating air. Maybe it's the grin on the face of Bartimus as he posed with his prize-winning pumpkin. There must be better days ahead, when COVID-19 is behind us and we find ways to till common ground.

"Just wait till next year, Charlie Brown. You'll see! Next year at this same time, I'll find a pumpkin patch that is real sincere and I'll sit in that pumpkin patch until the Great Pumpkin appears. He'll rise out of that pumpkin patch and he'll fly through the air with his bag of toys. The Great Pumpkin will appear and I'll be waiting for him! I'll be there! I'll be sitting there in that pumpkin patch ... and I'll see the Great Pumpkin."

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