The Pick of the Patch

For me, you pick is one of the best inventions ever made for getting fresh produce. Since it’s not realistic to do this for all of our fruits and veggies (unless you have your own garden!) I tend to get pretty excited about the produce you can pick yourself. Two of my absolute favorite pick your own produce are apples (as we discussed last month!) and pumpkins. It happens to be October, the month of the pumpkin so I wanted to tell you about one of very favorite pumpkin picking memories.

When we still lived in Massachusetts, we would travel to rural Vermont on the weekends to visit Jim’s mom. One of those weekends, she offered to take us pumpkin picking at the farm she worked at. I assumed we would head over to the farm store and small pumpkin patch they had for selling all of the fall produce they grew, but I was in for a surprise!

We traveled down country highways and side roads until we came to an enormous field covered in pumpkins right on the side of a highway. We pulled right into the field, found parking where there were no crops growing and stepped out into mud. We were then told to just take however many pumpkins we wanted as these were the pumpkins left after the farm had picked the ones they needed for sale and baking. Whatever we did not want, would be left for the animals or to decompose to enrich the soil for next years crops.

Despite the mud threatening to swallow my feet, I was in heaven! Take as many pumpkins as I wanted! I had no idea where to begin since I wanted them all! The sea of orange beckoned me to pick, pick, pick and so I did. Once I got into the patch it was a little easier to see that I could not take every one as some had become food for animals and bugs, some had not quite gotten orange and some had gotten smushed by farm equipment. But what was left was amazing! We had the absolute best time running through the fields, shouting to “Come look!”, taking our fill of pumpkins and just being outside together.

That year we ended up with no less than 20 pumpkins adorning our 900 square foot apartment and small front and back porch. Everywhere I looked there were pumpkins! Soon we made some Jacks from our bounty to add that perfect Halloween touch.

After the season was over, we put as many of the pumpkins as we could in our compost bin as they began to rot but there were just too many! Some got left on the porch as gifts for our squirrel and bird friends to help them through the winter and others that we had forgotten about fell over the railings of our porch and slept beneath the winter snow, giving us quite a surprise the next summer!

Those pumpkins are long gone but because we made an event out of getting them, I get to keep them long after I could have if I had just ran to the store and got a pumpkin. This even started a new tradition with us each fall to throw a few pumpkins wherever in our yard and see if we happen to get any unexpected pumpkin vines the next year! We have a few growing in our backyard this year thanks to this tradition!

Life can get busy and sometimes it’s all we can do to keep our heads above water, but as you enter the holiday season, try to carve out those “pumpkin patch” moments for you and your people, no matter how small they seem. Years from now they will continue to bloom in your mind even if the people and places are long gone.