Bereft of our CNO (chief nurturing officer) and most junior family member are we, Mara and I. Angela went on a much needed women’s retreat this weekend and could bear neither the thought of not being able to smell Emilia’s head for two nights and two days nor the prospect of returning to find us all dead because I couldn’t manage a baby and a five-year-old, so she took Millie-pants with her.

I was torn about whether or not to include the other fifty shots that each have one empty hole because the kids were moving around so much. Note the fog visible in even a few yards of background.

Mara and I went with her friend Gwyneth’s family to the Craven Farm Pumpkin Patch in Snohomish today. It’s become an annual tradition that Mara really looks forward to. I blogged about this last year, so I won’t go into all the details again. But I took a fajillion pictures, so I thought I’d post a good batch of them.

We arrived early and entered the patch under a blanket of white fog that lay thick and cold on the valley floor. But while we were hunting pumpkins the fog lifted and dissolved in a bright blue October sky. This happened last year, too, and it really is a kind of magical experience. Mara and Gwyn don’t notice that kind of thing consciously, of course, but it forms the background of the memories of this place that are forming and being strengthened every year. For the girls, the big attractions are the pumpkins, the makeshift playground the farm has — a teepee, an old speedboat, an old tractor, and a pirate ship structure — and the hayride, not necessarily in that order. 

It really should be called a straw-wagon.

Awaiting the next surprise on the hayride.

A vegetate Little Red Riding Hood is one of the enchantments in the cornfield.

You might pause to marvel that I got this shot, since I was inside the tractor sitting next to Mara on a bale of hay (straw, actually) and had no way to aim the camera or see what their faces were doing. It pays to have long arms.

The hayride is always fun because the tractor pulls the wagon into a tall acre of corn on a path along which little scenarios, some spooky and all festive, have been set up. The girls love this, especially the place where a pumpkin-headed witch has crashed into a post on her broom. After the ride, we turn our attention to the more serious business of selecting pumpkins in the field.

The pumpkin patch has a calming and restorative effect on adults, I think — we all end up meandering away into different corners of the field and then reconvening, over and over again — but Mara can only be interested in pumpkin hunting for so long and then it’s all about the worms. The earth beneath the gourds, when you roll them over, is silty and stinky and very rich, and large earthworms abound in it. I have to remember when we leave the patch to ask her if she has worms in her pockets and if she does, to enjoin her to release them back into some moist and shady shelter, otherwise she’ll bring them home and want to take them into her bed with her. 

Patch pals.

Each glimmer of bright orange lures you further into the field.

Worms. What it all comes down to.

The fog lifts. It's going to be a beautiful day.

A worm in the hand is worth two pumpkins in the bush.



8 Responses to “Patchwork”

  1. 1 kiwidutch October 16, 2010 at 23:29

    Excellent post, building memories and traditions by taking the time to do it as a family makes for a new piece of the “had a wonderful childhood” picture.
    No pumpkin traditions here in The Netherlands LOL, but we try and so similar with our raspberry picking quests in New Zealand and as soon as Little Mr grows a little more common sense on a ladder, cherry and apple picking outings here.
    There is something about a family taking part in the “gathering” of something fun that gathers the family together too…
    …and how much do kids miss, who’s parents instead just swing by a place where items can be bought in a one minute transaction?
    Its the same principle as “messy” play, there are so many options for the least mess play possible, but the look on my kids faces was COMPLETELY different when I put out small plates of finger paint and told them to use their hands and not brushes.
    Not only did the creative lights go on, they almost fused in the joy of being allowed real artistic freedom.
    The worms are part of this too LOL, Mara will all her life never be able to see a worm without this happy memory flooding back.
    Brilliant tradition.., I like to see a post on it every year please! After all, there’s someone else who will be ready to take her first tentative steps into the pumpkin patch next year isn’t there?.

    • 2 jstwndrng October 18, 2010 at 07:58

      KD, thanks,
      Mara has always been a great collector of earthworms and other soil-bound critters. She herds slugs, too. Recently she had one crawling slowly up her forearm — she had put it there because she knew it would stick and she was busy doing something so she needed both hands free. I distance myself from this practice politically, because I would rather she toss them in the green recycling so they don’t eat our plants, but I can’t bring myself to lay down the law because, well, she learned from us that every insect and spider and slimy creature was made by God and that we should not kill anything without good reason, and she just doesn’t have the good reasons. So now the snails and slugs are leaving little hobo markings on our yard that must read “friendly kid” and “no mollusk death penalty here”.

      Yes, next year Emilia will visit the pumpkin patch for the first time.

      Wow, you’re in Portugal now? I thought you were a Kiwi, but you never seem to actually BE in New Zealand. Did you move back to Europe or are you on an extended walkabout?

      • 3 kiwidutch October 18, 2010 at 11:34

        I’m Kiwi born, living and working in The Netherlands 18+ years now (also conveniently was born with the Dutch nationality and bilingual)… I blog about our travels as soon as possible after we are back from the trip because I don’t like that people would know precisely where we are staying (internet safely and privacy reasons) etc whilst we are away and because we are busy seeing stuff, being lazy whilst on holiday too and may or may not have regular internet connection.
        We were in Portugal late August, early September.
        The laptop travels everywhere with us naturally, as I love to write and need a place to store the zillions of photos I take, so I take bits written out of my daily journal, ie,everything we did that day and that info is often the basis text of the blog post.
        We get back to New Zealand about once every two years we have roughly another year until next visit there if all goes to plan.
        Complicated? LOL I know, I know Family Kiwidutch get around don’t we? We like to live simply, cook from scratch at home etc and save to travel.. works for us!

  2. 4 Kip October 17, 2010 at 05:50

    We made our annual trek to the local pumpkin monger last week as well, and this year it was more about the running around than the pumpkins. We actually went twice; once with the whole fam, and once with just Number One Son. It was so cool when we took him back to see him recognize where we were going, and when he realized his sister was not in the car….well, that was one happy boy!

    • 5 jstwndrng October 18, 2010 at 08:03

      The younger sibling does increase the drag quotient for an older one, doesn’t it, slows them down like bull kelp on the oars. Neat that he could experience a special “Will Return” trip, as t’were. I agree it’s mostly about the running around, the playing on stuff, the big outdoors, and the tradition of it. Angela actually grew several pumpkins in the backyard and while they did not grow huge (nor very orange, yet), we certainly don’t need more. The gourds are just an excuse to go.

  3. 6 Librarian Girl October 18, 2010 at 10:08

    My dad taking me to a big apple orchard every fall is one of my all-time favorite memories and Nordic Boy and I still do this to this day. It makes me happy that people still do stuff like this.

    This October has been sort of amazing, has it not?

    • 7 jstwndrng October 18, 2010 at 16:04

      What a great thing that you and NB are carrying that tradition forward!

      The other male adult on the pumpkin trip mused that farms could not survive these days without this “agrotourism”. That’s a doleful thought to me, and it made me suddenly less resentful about the $7 hot dogs. It makes me even more glad that we’re a) doing our part (“our portion” as J.K. Simmons kept saying in the surprisingly good Brad Pitt/Julia Roberts caper “The Mexican”) and b) getting the good farm times in before there’s no gettin to be got.

  1. 1 All Hallows Eve, 2010 « Just Wondering Trackback on November 2, 2010 at 21:47

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