Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autumn Ends

As Autumn comes to an end, I think of all the fun that I had this year.  Especially when it comes to going up to Michigan to visit St. John's and the pumpkin patch by the cider mill there.

I may have written about this before, but if you've never been to Michigan, or at least the Northeast corner of the country, then you've probably been missing out on apple orchards, cider mills, donuts and pumpkin picking, usually all under the same roof, or at least on the same farm.  Growing up where I did, I was exposed early to going out and getting cider and fresh cider, pumpkin, buttermilk and cinnamon sugar donuts.  And then after scarfing down all of that awesome stuff, going out into the chilly, sometimes muddy fields, and searching for that all elusive pumpkin that I had to take home and carve on Halloween.  (Mind you, at least the day before or on Halloween, because if you do it too early it rots and then it's just not pretty by the time the Trick-or-Treaters come up).

This year I went with a friend of mine to the orchards, and with my Mom, of course, since she lives up there.  But my friend Jon and I took the wagon out to the pumpkin patch and took a sharp right over into the far field where none of the others were treading.  This is the best way to go when you're searching for pumpkins.  Nearly all the patches I've ever been to, they'll have the one that's nearly all picked over by the staff and all of the people who have come to the farm, but there'll be one where no one wants to go because to bring the pumpkins back from there will be quite a hall.  However, what's awesome about John's is that they have wagons if you're lucky enough to get them.  So we headed out into, surprisingly, a very weedy field where you really didn't see the pumpkins right away.

However - if you pulled back the tall, dead grass, deep down in it all there were pumpkins.  And not just pumpkins, but squash and gourds too.  It was still a hunt, mind you, because many of these pumpkins weren't set upright like in the more popular field, and some had a bit of frost bite, or maybe a bug bite or two (and one looked like someone's butt...it was sort of gross but pretty fascinating).

These hidden gems are what makes coming to a pumpkin patch worth it.  You dig around until you find something golden orange buried, and then you pull it out, brush it off, and try to see if it'll sit up right or if it's been eaten by worms or something stepped on it.

I tend to spend a long time looking at pumpkins, it's just the way I am.  I think I always annoyed my parents with how picky I was, even as a kid, because I always had to look closely at the pumpkin, turn it around and find just that perfect specimen.

However, this year, I decided that the digging was the adventure.  In those tall grasses I found three pumpkins that I just adored, even though they weren't perfect.  They had smooshed sides and long stems and cuts or warts here and there.  And yet, I took them home with me.  They carved into some really nice Jack'o'lanterns too.

But I'm not here to talk about the carving, I'm just talking about a feeling that I get every time I go and drink a half gallon of cider, eat a half dozen donuts and then wear it all off trudging through a farm looking for that golden orange treasure.

And if you've never done it yourself, then next year, when things get a bit cooler and you start thinking about Autumn and Halloween, do yourself a favor and head up North to experience it for yourself.

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