Finding a simpler way to celebrate autumn’s end
THE SANTA CLARA
October 29, 2015
I last visited a pumpkin patch during a field trip in third grade. I still remember my teacher, Mrs. Bradford (whose bubble-bespectacled eyes could spot trouble a mile away), yelling at me in front of my whole class for climbing on a haystack. It was a mortifying moment, and one that kept me from partaking in this fall tradition for over a decade.
But last week, I made my triumphant return to not one, but two pumpkin patches.
Both were owned and operated by ABC Tree Farms, a seasonal conglomerate that also sells Christmas trees starting at the end of November.
One of their employees told me that ABC Tree Farms owns seventeen locations across the Bay Area, and that during weekends “it is non-stop craziness from open to close.”
Luckily, that was not the case when I met up with my capris-clad friend Forrest during a lazy and windy Tuesday afternoon.
The first patch we visited was on Benton Street, where the only other people in attendance was a Raider Nation couple.
They looked at us with slight bewilderment, which I took as confusion as to whether or not my male friend and I were in a romantic relationship (we were, after all, two grown men at a pumpkin patch). I politely shook my head at them, and they went on their way.
The Benton Street pumpkin patch offered inflatable slides, pumpkin-based treats and haystacks that you could climb on without getting yelled at by your teacher.
Scarecrows and Halloween decorations adorned the grounds and immersed me in the autumn season, just like that first sip of a Pumpkin Spice Latte (what? I’m not made of stone).
After spending a half hour on Benton Street, Forrest and I made our way over to the Monroe Street location. This one had a bit more foot traffic (rambunctious kids fresh out of school) and a bit more panache (premature Christmas lights and a Spider-Man-themed bouncy house).
The children ran around the patch and played on the slides, while their parents sought out pumpkins for Jack-o’-lantern carving.
Forrest and I began our search for the perfect pumpkin to purchase, personifying the various gourds. A group of small, smooth pumpkins were school children.
A toppled over, gray-colored pumpkin was an elderly man in hospice. A flat, reddish pumpkin was a pomegranate. Finally, I found the one: a small, amber pumpkin, lacking any marks or indentations.
It had been sitting by its self, off to the side and for some reason reminded me of a young Haley Joel Osment. Haley was well worth the search and cost only a modest three dollars.
My bargain purchase was cause for celebration, so we drove over to Athena Grill, a Greek restaurant with a nationalized blue and white design. We both ordered Gyro plates, piled high with spicy beef, cool tzatziki, soft pita bread, herb french fries and a refreshing Greek salad.
We stayed at the restaurant about an hour longer than expected, in order to fully digest the massive Mediterranean meal.
It began to get dark, so Forrest dropped Haley and I off for the evening. I carried the pumpkin home with me, thinking about the purity of pumpkin patches.
Halloween has been corrupted by overeating candy, wearing scanty costumes and drinking until we convince ourselves that “The Blair Witch Project” was actually a good movie.
Similar to Christmas and Easter, we have lost much of the purpose and tradition of the holiday.
Pumpkin patches, on the other hand, are peaceful refuges from delinquency.
They’re inviting, affordable and a hell of a lot less pretentious than other commercially delicious traditions (looking at you, pumpkin spice latte).
They display the autumn’s colorful transformation and fill any visitor with nostalgia for the years when Halloween was less horny, tacky and boozy.
Don’t wait ten years like I did. Go to a pumpkin patch, climb the formerly forbidden haystack and find your own Haley.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org