Monday, November 04, 2013

Getting pumpk’ed

If your family is anything like ours, you will be sitting around your toy room (formerly known as your living room) one Saturday afternoon, watching your children bounce hard, colorful objects off each other’s heads, when one of you will think, “You know, it’s been a while since we, as a family, have huffed tractor exhaust.”

This is when you will decide to go on a hayride.

The word “hayride” always evokes memories of bouncing along rough farm roads on chilly afternoons, holding gloved hands with loved ones as you pull up beside a bountiful pumpkin patch.  I never remember the part about the bountiful, suffocating cloud of tractor exhaust, probably on account of my reduced brain function from inhaling all that tractor exhaust. 

Last weekend, with some out-of-town friends visiting, we decided that we should visit the farm one more time before we hit that period in November that the calendar still calls fall, but we all know is really winter.

“We’re CSA,” Kara told the teenager who’d been waving us toward the nosebleed parking spots in the back of the hayfield.

“Oh, okay,” he replied, directing us toward an open spot close to the barn.  When you’re a member of a CSA, visiting the farm on a mobbed weekend fall afternoon is the closest you’ll ever come to knowing what it feels like to visit a nightclub when you’re Kanye West.

“Go ahead and pick all the parsley you’d like,” they’ll tell you, and you’ll start to consider wearing sunglasses that look like venetian blinds.     

If you’re not familiar with a CSA (Can’t Stop the Arugula), it’s a form of community-supported farming wherein you pay up front for a whole summer’s worth of fruits and vegetables.  The has been our first year as CSA members, and while we’ve generally found it to be a great experience that forces us to figure out dinner plans that don’t involve Mama Celeste, it has resulted in some mealtime difficulties.

“What do you want to do for dinner tonight?” I’ll ask.

“I found a new recipe for our beets and sweet potatoes.  It’s called ‘beets and sweets,’” Kara will reply.

“You lost me at beets.  And then again at sweet potatoes,” I’ll reply.

“There's another recipe for caramelized turnips,” Kara will say.

“You lost me after caramel,” I’ll reply.  As the conversation goes on like that, I’ll start toasting a bagel.

After parking in our VIP spots and hiding our faces from the paparazzi, we hopped on the hayride with the intention of visiting the pumpkin patch.  The tractor did drop us off at a dirt plot with hundreds of loose pumpkins sitting on it, but I’m not sure this was actually a pumpkin patch by any standard definition. 

Huge cardboard boxes of pumpkins sat on wooden palettes beside the field, which seemed to suggest that, deep in the night, when the agri-tourists weren’t looking, they just rolled a bunch of pumpkins into a field and waited for the rubes to come buy them. 

I understand that this is probably much more efficient for everyone than having a bunch of morons trying to wrench pumpkins straight off the vine, and that pumpkins themselves serve no actual useful purpose other than to be temporary candle receptacles or a little extra flavor for our spiced lattes, but the whole point of buying them at the farm is that you’re having a more authentic experience.  Somehow, doing it this way just seems phony, like they’re playing fetch with us.

“Go get the pumpkin, boy!  Get it!  Oh, you’re such a good pumpkin retriever,” they seem to be saying.

I don’t think you’re really supposed to think about it that way, which is probably why they dose you with tractor exhaust on the way there.

You can buy Mike Todd a cider donut at

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