Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'll Pick Nothing and Like It

"Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why." -Bernard Baruch

What's the big idea?
(This guy was on to something.)
What is it about this time of year that turns parents into gluttons for punishment? Maybe it's the need to squeeze every last ounce of outdoor activity out of the beautiful autumn weather before the relentless chill of winter descends. Maybe it's the lure of deliciously picked fruit to serve as healthy snacks and turn into scrumptious desserts. And maybe, just maybe, we're under the delusion that as soon as summer ends, our house absolutely must be decorated with pumpkins this very second. What other reason do we have for wasting a perfectly good Sunday afternoon picking apples or pumpkins or - for heaven's sake - both?

My Director and I gave up this trivial pursuit a long time ago. It sounds good on paper. It even looks good on paper, or in pictures. But in all honesty, it's not nearly as much fun as we think it's going to be. And all we really want is a cute picture of our child with a pumpkin. You know it. I know it. So we should stop doing this to ourselves. 

First of all, you're never going to get good weather. If you get a perfect fall day, play the lottery because you're on a lucky streak. Chances are it's going to be so hot that it feels more like summer. But you're dressed for fall anyway (for the pictures), sweating your a$$ of in jeans and a sweatshirt. If it's not hot, it's muddy because it recently rained. The weather makes dressing for this adventure an adventure in and of itself. It's bad enough I never know which wardrobe combo to go with this time of year: cargo-shorts/long-sleeve t-shirt or jeans/short sleeve t-shirt? And footwear? It could range from boots to sneakers to flip flops. I love autumn but sometimes the wardrobe anxiety makes me yearn for winter just so I can put on a coat and be done with it.

Vehicle required to take your family "picking."
No matter what you wear, you're going to feel filthy from sweat or actually be filthy from mud. If it is muddy, you're definitely getting your minivan stuck in someone else's tire track trench slop when you park. That will force you to call one or two of the strapping young farmboys on the payroll to help you push your swagger wagon free. This will make you feel less manly because a) you drive a minivan and b) you're unable to navigate it out of a tire track mud trench. 

In between docking and freeing your minivan from the slop, you're waiting for a glorified tractor-pulling-a-flatbed that they have the nerve to call a "hayride" because they throw some bales of hay on there for you to sit on. You can't hear a word your child is saying because the tractor engine is humming so loudly you're sure you're never going to hear properly again. Yet you know whatever she is trying to tell you is life-altering because she hasn't spoken until that point. You see, she's decided to mask her enthusiasm about this supposedly pleasurable endeavor. Either that or she just knows.

This is a pumpkin dumping ground, not a "patch."
You arrive at the pumpkin patch only to realize what you knew all along: there is no pumpkin patch. This isn't where they grow pumpkins. It's a field where they dump a bunch of pumpkins for you to pick. They bring the pumpkins out here on the same deafening tractor-flatbed that you just paid $10 a head to ride out here. And they overcharge you for the pumpkin too. Maybe your miserable little angel realizes this as well because she suddenly decides to be uncooperative. She's tired. She's hungry. She's hot. (Because the weather never cooperates.) She doesn't want to get messy. She not only refuses to smile for a picture, but she is throwing the godfather of all hissyfits in the middle of the pumpkin patch Superfund site:

Ok I'll come clean: This may have scarred me for life.
You finally have your apples or pumpkins or both and you're so exhausted and filthy you can't imagine having enough energy to carry all of this crap that's going to spoil before you get it back to the car. You realize at that point that you have so many apples and pumpkins and they took so much physical and emotional effort to pick that you'll never eat another apple or carve another pumpkin as long as you live. The line for the fake non-hayride tractor-pull back to the parking mud pit is 3/4 of a mile long and you're behind the two kids who are fighting with each other and the two dads who are paying no attention to them because they're checking their fantasy football scores. That's another thing: I'm missing a day of football for this. Just because my favorite team is on a bye doesn't mean I don't have football to watch. It's appointment television no matter who's playing.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Just go to your local farm store or garden store and buy some pumpkins and apples without all of the production and drama and be done with it. Spend quality time with your family some other way. Buying pumpkins retail and watching football at home.  Get your picture on the front porch and be done with it. How do you like THOSE apples?

To read the full story behind the Peanut-crying-in-the-pumpkin-patch photo, and why I'll never go "picking" again, click here


  1. I think you must have been along on our last pumpkin patch trip, although I never get the van stuck in the mud. Driving a van nearly the size of an 18 wheeler does offer that advantage.
    I actually have a post about why Costco is even too complicated for our patch coming up!
    I recommend new parents tell their kids that pumpkins ruin video games so they can avoid the whole blasted orange mess, in a loving close knit family bonding kinda way of course.

    1. Pumpkin patches are the work of the devil. Plain and simple.

  2. Oh my goodness, this almost made me wet myself! I was just bellowing (yes, I "bellow..." Don't judge) about the weather at the bus stop. Yesterday they (WE) were all sweaty messes, so I had them wear short sleeves and shorts today (though my son insisted on wearing sweats which caused quite the debacle). It was humid and hot when we first got out there and within SECONDS a cold front blew over. I. CAN.NOT.WIN. As for that pic of Peanut--she stole my heart! Back to the source of the laughter, I tell myself every year that I am going to just go by myself to grab pumpkins and whatnot, and every year I cave. Last year I put it off for so long that we almost had to celebrate in November! Thanks for the laughs!

    1. Please... just buy your pumpkins. No more drama. If the weather doesn't get you, the drama will. Or the prices.

      Glad you had a laugh at my expense. ;-)

  3. You must live, like, next door, cause that's the same Superfund site we go to. Dead-on! I was considering taking my kids to a local park for a minifest they have annually, after their soccer practice, tired and hungry, past their bedtime, pissy, cranky, cold... this post was a reality sucker punch upside my head. Thanks, we'll go to Skyline and I'll avoid the park on the way home.
    As always, an excellent post

    1. Don't do it. Smart man. And thank you. :-)

  4. Perfectly captures the feeling of the pumpkin patch day. It was tolerable when mine was a tot, but that picture of her crying, oi, hits home. Happens to us all I think. Now I'm divorced I can let her mother take her. Selfish of me, yes, but I don't care, lol

    1. You have plenty of other opportunities to torture yourself and your child. Those should be split evenly in divorce as well. It's only fair.

  5. Replies
    1. And you have all kinds of kids too. Masochist.

  6. It's a good time... stop judging. Our places have hot apple cider and even a chunkin pumpkin rig set up where you can shoot baby pumpkins with a giant slingshot! Dude, how could you not want to do that?

    I don't know... perhaps you Jersey folk haven't quite mastered the whole farming thing, like we have in the Midwest.

    P.S. I love with you did with Xhibit pimp the Swagger Wagon? That is a SWEET ride!

  7. Eff it. Canned pumpkin for the lot of ya!

  8. Pumpkins end up being squirrel food here. So I get our pumpkin at Michael's craft store. Even better, it doesn't rot. :)

  9. Listen you. If I want to spend $38 for a hayride to a fake pumpkin patch and two pumpkins (at the price of $8 each), I will do it damn it. It's for the kids.


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