A few years ago when Kate was 7 and Dash was 4, I had the thought that I was depriving my new york/urban children of one of the Fall's best traditions -- picking your own halloween pumpkin (and all that goes with it -- running through a corn maze, eating apple cider doughnuts, and riding in the back of a hay wagon.) I don't know where I got this idea -- although my family grew a lot of squash in our backyard in Utah when I was growing up, I don't remember that we ever grew pumpkins. And I never remember going to a pumpkin patch to pick our own. In fact, I don't remember actually carving our own pumpkins, but none of that mattered to me. I was NOT going to deprive Kate and Dash of the opportunity to be "normal" kids.
There was one big problem though -- there are no pumpkin patches in NYC. Actually, to be fair, we DID go to Central Park the year before, when the fabulous Central Park Conservancy set up a pretend patch, and after standing in line for about two hours, we were finally able to select our own 5-pound pumpkin to bring home.
So this particular year I decided that we should get out of the city. Problem number two -- we don't own a car. This was pre-Zipcar, so if I wanted to rent a car, I had to pay Manhattan rates, which can be prohibitive, and I didn't want to spend that much on a pumpkin.
I did some research and found out that we could get to a farm on Staten Island by way of public transportation -- Eureka! Historic Richmond Town -- which is a fabulous re-enactment of 17th century america -- recently bought a local farm, and all of the activities I wanted to do with Kate and Dash were available for the simple cost of a subway ride. (http://www.historicrichmondtown.org/) I roped a friend into joining me, since Glen wasn't able to go, and we set out at 9 am on a Saturday morning for our Pumpkin Picking Adventure. We boarded the 1 train at Grand Central, and took it downtown to the Staten Island Ferry, which we rode across, and got out and hopped on a Staten Island bus. That was fun -- we got to look out the window at all the yards that were decorated for Halloween -- quite a treat. We got out at Richmond Town, and found out that the farm was NOT at the village, but that there was a minivan that would take us out to the pumpkin patch. While there, we took a ride around on the tractor -- making a total of 5 different modes of transportation we had ridden, and it wasn't even noon! After running through the corn maze, eating our apple cider doughnuts and drinking hot chocolate, we went to pick out pumpkins.
Kate picked out a nice 10-12 pounder. Dash found a pumpkin that was bigger than he was (it weighed about 15-18 pounds) and when I suggested something smaller, he wrapped himself around it and said, like any tired, manipulative, sugared-up four-year old "You promised!!"
Yes, I know what you're thinking -- but what could I do?
We paid for our pumpkins, loaded them into the large canvas bags I had, smartly, brought with me, then began our journey home, which felt little bit like we were actually living one of those "Goin' on a Bear Hunt" games. You know, the one where you slog through the mud and the tall grass and over a mountain until you actually see a bear, then run fast back down the mountain, through the tall grass, slugging through the mud until you get home where it's safe and shut the door. Only our return trip included carrying 25 pounds of squash and a couple of tired children.
A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that we rent a Zipcar and get out of the city on a Saturday and go pick our own pumpkins. Glen suggested that, instead, we schlep up to the new Trader Joe's that just opened a few blocks away. Kate voted for the farmer's market on the corner. Kate won.
Dash picked out the biggest pumpkin he could find, and I got the honor of carrying it home the half a block from the market. And do you know what? It carved up just fine.