My wife and I are largely immune to the siren call of the fall pumpkin stampede. We don’t hate them, but we don’t wake up on October 1st and draw up a meal schedule of pumpkin omelets, thin-sliced pumpkin sandwiches, and pan-seared pumpkin steak with a pumpkin reduction served over a pumpkin salad tossed with pumpkin vinaigrette. Pumpkins are acceptable, but they don’t wow us.
Maybe it was odd, then, that we spent part of her birthday celebration last weekend traipsing through a pumpkin patch, surrounded by the very source of so much autumn shrugging. We couldn’t deny their iconic appearance, though.
We knew Beasley’s Orchard would have pumpkins, among many other orchard-based treats. We weren’t expecting a grand tour of the premises, but when he hitched along on their official hayride, our last stop before returning to home base was a pause in the middle of their genuine pumpkin patch.
We were allowed to traipse through the greenery to our heart’s content, and select a pumpkin to take along for the ride and purchase at the end. We were welcome to grab all the pumpkins we could carry and afford.
I think we could even take green pumpkins if that was our thing. Since we’re no trained pumpkinologists, we had no idea if choosing green instead of orange would be a culinary advantage, a fatal mistake, or a harmless interior decorating dilemma.
While other hayride passengers engaged in comparison shopping and evaluating the available specimens based on established pumpkin-fandom criteria, my wife and I milled around, looked for patterns, and took photos to show friends and relatives what they missed and where they might consider pumpkin-shopping if they’re interested in quitting corporate-approved pumpkin products and taking charge of their own pumpkin menus and their pumpkin destinies.
As I said, that’s not our gig. When we first disembarked from the hayride, our mutual first question was, “Is this the sincerest pumpkin patch in all the land?” Y’all can have your pumpkin pies, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin-spiced lattes, pumpkin body lotion, and pumpkin car fresheners. She and I would be much more interested in meeting the Great Pumpkin himself. We could shake his hand, get his autograph, ask him what Linus is really like, and see if he can help us meet any of the other really cool holiday figureheads like Peter Cottontail or Frosty the Snowman or Hanukkah Harry or Betsy Ross. Or who knows? Maybe the Great Pumpkin is a she. Charles Schulz never showed us, and if there’s anyone alive who knows for sure, they’ve obviously been pressured into silence.
Sadly, the Great Pumpkin never showed his gourd once during our visit. We forgot His Highness only appears once per year, and only to one privileged pumpkin patch worldwide, because the other 364 days of the year he’s so, so busy with all the other responsibilities of his throne, such as monitoring GMO toxicity standards or declaring war on various farm pests or signing peace treaties with melon kings or greasing the palms of American advertising agencies to ensure pumpkins remain at the forefront of the American consciousness for exactly one month out of every year. Because October is pumpkin turf, and all the other fruits and vegetables need to be reminded to step off or else they’ll meet the same mysterious fate as the last Great Pumpkin.
Pumpkins are here, they’re ripe, they’re organized, and they’re ready for you. Your move.