Wendi Matthes loves to garden. She has always loved to garden, for as long as she can remember.
“Just watching them turn colour and grow in size just really makes me smile,” the Edmonton woman says as she bends down to inspect her bell peppers.
She doesn’t just have peppers. There are peas and carrots and also the cucumbers she picks every second day. There are tomatoes and cherry tomatoes (the yellow ones are her favourite). She has strawberries and zucchini and garlic and chives too.
“They’re like little babies, you know? And you take care of them.”
But for the past few years, it’s the garden that takes care of her.
“I don’t have a whole lot of strength, so I just come out here when I can,” she says.
Matthes has ovarian cancer. Stage 4. Even this tour through her garden has left her a little breathless, though she’s trying her hardest not to show it.
Two years of chemotherapy took a lot out of her. She told the doctor she couldn’t take it anymore. Recently, an experimental drug has been helping, but Matthes believes in her babies.
“Doctors say that that’s one of the best medicines: laughter and joy, so these are my joy.”
This year, her biggest joy has been a particular pumpkin. It was so big and so perfect that she had already planned to give it to her grandchildren for Halloween — for decorating, not for eating.
“It was getting so huge, it was a beautiful pumpkin,” she says, stretching her arms out in front of her.
It was a beautiful pumpkin. But now it’s gone.
“It seems like such a shame you know? It wasn’t even ripe yet.”
Matthes’ son Chris discovered the gourd was gone Thursday night.
“I came over to check the pumpkin,” says Chris, recounting his steps to the back fence. “I’m like, ‘Are you freaking kidding me? What kind of jerk steals a pumpkin?'”
It turns out the Matthes family has the means to find out. You see, Wendi and her husband own a security company. They have every kind of camera mounted around their house to display to clients — and to catch a pumpkin picker.
At 5:19 p.m. on Wednesday, a camera catches the culprit and an armload of evidence. The Matthes’ watched as two men stroll down the alley eating apples that police believe they picked from a neighbour’s tree. When one of the men spots the perfect pumpkin he tosses the apple and plucks the pumpkin with both hands.
View images taken from the security camera in the gallery below:
“I’m watching the video like, ‘What are you doing? Leave my pumpkin alone. Don’t touch my pumpkin,'” Wendi says. “I don’t really feel violated. Maybe a little ticked off because it was like… it was perfect.”
The Matthes’ have turned their video over to police, though Wendi admits she felt a little silly calling in a stolen pumpkin. When an officer arrived on Thursday night, he asked how much the pumpkin was worth. She didn’t have an answer.
“The one thing the dispatcher said was, ‘Theft is theft,'” Wendi recalls.
Even though the video shows the faces of the men, Wendi doesn’t expect any arrests.
“It is just a pumpkin,” she says. “If I see them, I’ll give them the no-no finger. I know what you did.”
Now everyone else knows too.