It turns out that the volunteer squash vine in my garden this year is not producing gooseneck gourds, as I suspected. It's a ghost pumpkin! Now I remember tossing one of those in the compost after last Halloween.
There are also deer tracks in the garden, which I did not fence this time, but this spooky little bubble of joy is growing right in the center of the thick, spiny foliage, so I hope it will be left to hang in there until my daughter can carve it up this Halloween.
Happy Hot Gourd Summer!