One of the visual cues of Fall, or “Autumn,” as the proper people say, is the sight of plump orange pumpkins on steps, porch railings, stone walls, in piles outside of grocery stores, and at local plant nurseries and farms. Smaller pumpkins can be spotted on work desks, in store windows, and on daycare and elementary school windows made out of construction paper. Pumpkins are practically everywhere right now and are one reason why we love this time of year so much.
Pumpkins bring joy, have many creative uses, and add a simple and natural beauty to the season. They are more than the “large rounded orange-yellow fruit(s) with a thick rind, edible flesh, and many seeds” as the dictionary defines them.
There is a lot of pumpkin rubbing, holding, bouncing, and yes, even hugging and squeezing going on when observing people trying to pick out their own personal pumpkins. Some people scrape off the dirt spots while others are eyeing it solely for carving purposes, where it will be placed in a table arrangement, or if it is ready to be transformed into pumpkin pie. Discussions often take place as to the pumpkin’s characteristics, size, and appropriateness for the intended use. It can be quite a negotiation process!
For adults, pumpkins are viewed as a relatively inexpensive decoration that gives a home a little extra curb appeal and signals to the neighborhood children that the homeowners will be handing out candy on All Hallows Eve, better known today as Halloween. For some, pumpkins signify other joys of the season – the edible joys. Who doesn’t love a pumpkin latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and squash soup?
For children, pumpkins are a sign that Halloween is getting closer and they start thinking about “what they want to be” and the mounds of candy they hope to collect while trick or treating.
Have you ever pondered the idea that pumpkins also provide us with a measure of comfort? They come into our lives for a short time each year so we’ve learned to count on them being present to us, sort of like silent old friends, albeit orange ones!
Pumpkin picking can help to pull us away from technology and work responsibilities for a little while. Perhaps this can be the “take away” from this article: Challenge yourself to get in touch with your “inner Linus” of Schulz’s “Great Pumpkin” fame. Take some time to visit a pumpkin patch and contemplate the gifts of this simple fruit. How do pumpkins make your own life better, more organic, and more satisfying, during this time of year?
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Pumpkins are often connected with hayrides and the whole “autumnal experience.” Let’s now have a few thoughts about hayrides.
Perhaps a little more hidden and less available in our present age, but still a telltale sign of New England in the Autumn, is the sight of a horse and buggy full of hay bales and people of all ages enjoying some nostalgic fun. What once was a vehicle of necessity, becomes for the high-tech people of the 21st century a vehicle of entertainment, an escape, and a chance to get in touch with a simpler, more wholesome way of life.
Other than a selfie or group shot on a hayride, it might be best to keep the cell phones off. Instead, allow yourself to surrender to this slow-speed adventure. Look up at the sky – night or day, the crisp air will help you feel more alive. Besides, how often do we stop to look up at the sky now anyway? Close your eyes and listen to the sound of the horses or the laughter of others along for the ride. Look at the scenes around you. If your hayride is more mini-metro, like through downtown Westerly, do the same. Look at the town through a different viewpoint, engage with others on the ride – especially people you don’t know.
Let’s be honest, as wonderful as hayrides are, they are still a little smelly. Whether petting a horse or sitting on bales of hay, people tend to have a slightly different “fragrance” about them when the hayride is over. Of course, there are hayrides pulled by tractors instead of horses, and those are nice, too, but nothing compares to the horse-drawn hayride through a country field, followed by a nice cup of warm cider, a few donuts, and sharing conversation with good people around a bonfire.
Whether looking for a pumpkin purchase or harvest hayride, check out one of the following places. This list is not exhaustive, and not all locations have hayrides, but it will get you started on your quest for pumpkins and hayrides. Each place is a special experience so perhaps you can take a few weekends and visit all of them.
Adam’s Garden of Eden, 360 N. Anguilla Rd., Pawcatuck, CT 06379, Phone: (860) 599-4241, or visit their website.
Clark Farms, 711 Kingstown Rd., Wakefield, RI 02879, Phone: (401) 783-8844, or or visit their website. (Hayrides available)
Fleming’s Feed, 788 Stonington Rd., Stonington, CT (860) 535-3181, or visit their website.
Pequot Plant Farm, 591 Wheeler Rd., Stonington, CT 06378, Phone: (860) 535-1785 or visit their website.
Manfredi Farms, 59 Dunns Corners Bradford Rd., Westerly, RI 02891. Phone: (401) 322-0027, or visit their Facebook (Hayrides available).
Stonington Gardens, 154 Lantern Hill Rd., Mystic, CT 06355. (860) 536-7720 or visit their website. (Hayrides available)
Whittle’s Willow Spring Farm, 1030 Noank Ledyard Rd, Mystic CT 06355, Phone: 860-536-3083 or visit their Facebook page.