Has anyone ever had a really good time at one of those pumpkin patch extravaganzas put on by the guy in your area who has a couple hundred acres, a hay wagon and a cash register? I haven’t.
Where we live, there’s pretty much one game in town. It’s a nut farm, supposedly, but no one has ever been able to verify this agricultural claim, because the only time people go is during the run-up to Halloween, during which it’s all faux-farm fun and retail space. And in those few weeks preceding All Hallows Eve, every one of the 3,140,169 residents of San Diego County, and a couple million more from Orange and Imperial, descend on this dirt farm to participate in a charade of autumnal harvest rites.
People seem to make the pilgrimage out of a sense of obligation: to what, I’m not sure. Our country’s agrarian roots? The thousands of pumpkins that would rot on the vine if they didn’t overpay to bring them home and let them rot on the front step? The misguided notion that children enjoy harvesting produce? Regardless of their motivations, I have not witnessed or heard tell of anyone having much fun. The best report I’ve received was, “It wasn’t too bad this time.”
There’s one long-ass road in and one road out of this dusty plantation, which passes for bucolic in an area where the citizens only ever see beaches, deserts, and manicured suburbs. Those who survive the 40 miles of gridlocked traffic and manage to find a parking spot in the rutted dirt field can then look forward to standing in line for the entire day, usually in sweltering heat, although sometimes they get lucky and it rains. For their effort, they will be rewarded not only with more gourds and pumpkins (also available AT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GROCERY STORE) than they will know what to do with, but also with quaint down-home treats like five-dollar corn on the cob and a wide selection of glazed fruits.
And let’s not forget all the wonderful animals that the children have the rare opportunity of watching wallow and rut and bleat and hiss in their filthy cages. Ducks! Geese! Pigs! More ducks! The little ones will be delighted by feces-encrusted goats who mug them for the paper bag of animal feed for which their parents forked over three bucks. And who doesn’t love that rascally old PMS-llama? It’s such a wonderful opportunity, especially for the urban San Diego kids who might otherwise never get a chance to have such an up-close, personal, and educational encounter with these fascinating beasts. Unless they took a 5-minute bus ride to THE BEST GODDAMN ZOO IN THE GODDAMN COUNTRY.
In conclusion, as you have probably guessed, my family and I are heading to the pumpkin patch in the morning. Do you want me to pick you up some gourds or fancy nuts? Goat pellets maybe?