Friday, October 8, 2010

Picking Pumpkins

I just love pumpkins. I love their bright orange color. I love that some are round and some tall and some are a little squashed-looking (pun intended). I love the way they smell. I love roasting pumpkin seeds, and then roasting the whole thing, which I puree and freeze for pies and cookies and all sorts of fall goodies. So when the gals in my Thursday playgroup suggested going to the local pumpkin patch, I was all for it!

In the 45 minutes before we left for the event - while Hannah wasn't napping - I even made her a Halloween shirt with pumpkins on it. Imagine my dismay when we got there, and I looked at the thermometer in the car, only to see that it was a crisp 82 degrees out...just right for a long sleeve black shirt, right?

The woman at the farm stand showed us a map of where the pumpkin field was: around the outbuildings, up the hill, past the peaches. Can't miss it. Someone had been forward-thinking enough to call ahead and ask if it was a reasonable walk for mothers and young children. It was, she was told. Other moms had been forward-thinking enough to bring strollers and wagons. Me and Hannah? We had a custom-made black Halloween shirt, a camera, and sunglasses, for that movie-star effect.

So, in good spirits, and ready to do some pumpkin picking, off we went: five moms and seven kids under three (none of whom would look at the camera, but aren't they cute?).

It turned out that by the time we got around the outbuildings, some among us were considering going back for the cars. Others, however, pointed out what a nice day it was for a walk, and wouldn't it be fun (I was in this crazy group...go figure). By the time we got up the hill, we were all a little miffed. What kind of person thought this was a doable walk for moms and young children? Maybe for robust pumpkin farmers. Maybe for teenagers. Maybe for people who weren't carrying 23 pounds of toddler and hadn't thought to bring the wagon. On the other hand, the kids were having a blast. The road was dirt (read: dirty), with a plethora of rocks and sticks to pick up, throw, carry, and put into pockets.
There were goats, sheep, and a dog bigger than goats and sheep combined. We passed peach trees, apple trees, and pine trees. A car, carrying a family with young children passed us. The mom, from the passenger window, gave us a look that very clearly said, "What in the world has possessed you people to WALK up this road with all those children?!" We waited in the sun while someone went ahead to see if the pumpkins were really there. The car drove back down the road. I didn't look at the mom this time...I couldn't bear the scorn.
At long last, we reached the promise land of pumpkins! Cameras came out, pumpkins were chosen, and it was really fun for about five minutes, until a couple of dirty diapers appeared, it grew too hot to pretend that it was a nice fall day, and everyone was generally tired of the outing. Although there was a nice selection of good carving-sized pumpkins, I noticed that everyone chose one or two small pie pumpkins, perhaps because they looked a lot easier to carry back down the road.
And so began our trek back. Babies cried. I thought about crying a little. Since I was totally without wheels, someone was kind enough to haul my pumpkins in her stroller. We appreciated that the walk was downhill, and some of it was in the shade. We were much quieter as we hunkered down and made our way back to the farm stand. "This part is not fun," said one mom. "I know what will redeem our suffering," I thought. "I will write about this on my blog. Every thing's always funnier the next day, especially when you make fun of yourself."

But when we got there, a beautiful surprise awaited us. They had slushies! Cold, wonderful, fruit-flavored slushies, just right for hot, dusty pilgrims of the pumpkin patch trail. Within minutes, every one perked up. Kids were smiling, moms were telling jokes, and all was well with the world once again.

As we got ready to go, I thought about the fun we'd had. Hannah doesn't remember that the walk was hot and long. I don't even know if she remembers that we went pumpkin picking at all. You know what she remembers? She got to ride in Ella's wagon, and there was Special Drink. What a great day!

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