Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Picking at Waterford Farm

One of the fun parts of sharing my life with Jon is discovering which of our traditions are totally foreign to the other, and on Saturday I got the chance to introduce him to an annual American ritual when we drove north from DC into the heart of Maryland to go pumpkin picking.

In England, Jon tells me, people do carve pumpkins for Halloween, but I don't remember seeing any out on stoops or in windowsills in Chelsea or Islington.  In fact, the only people I know in London who decorate for autumn are US expats, and making an adventure of choosing your pumpkin is distinctly American.  As an English friend commented on a photo from the outing that I posted on Facebook yesterday, "I thought pumpkins came from Sainsbury's!"

So Jon was in for a treat as we drove all the way up 97 past Brookeville - the town to which James Madison fled after the British burned the White House in August 1814 - to Waterford Farm.  We turned off onto a winding dirt track, passing fields of stubbled wheat stalks, and crossed a little stone bridge over a ditch to find, laid out before us, the quintessential autumnal experience.  Or, as Jon commented when we saw the bright red barns, "Oh, look, they built a farm from Pinterest for all the urbanites."

Despite Jon's cynicism, we had a great morning.  We fed the goats and petted the cows and agreed that it was good we'd left Charlie back at home.  Jon and another childless man there with his wife had a loud conversation next to the pig pen about their favorite cuts of pork, to the dismay of nearby parents, and I was glad to see that I wasn't the only woman there with her phone out to take pictures.

When the haywagon rolled up, Jon suggested that we let the families with young children board first, but I reminded him that we were still less than an hour away from DC and so it was totally acceptable to sharpen our elbows.  We hopped up and, surrounded by mothers with DSLRs and toddlers trying to eat straw and fathers hoping to see a hawk darting above our heads, trundled off towards the pumpkin patch.

I'm delighted to report that, as Jon predicted, our pumpkins chose us relatively quickly, and we were able to spend a while wandering the fields under a brilliant blue sky  before boarding the wagon back to the farm.

On Jon's suggestion, we took the scenic route home through Patuxent State Park; it was amazing to see how much more colorful the foliage was there than in the city.  (We passed quite a few hunters in full camouflage by their trucks, which was almost as novel for me as it was for Jon!)  It was the most gorgeous day - perfect for an autumnal outing.

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  1. We went to our first pumpkin patch last year and I took my best friend and goddaughter to one last week - they loved it! It's one of those typically american experiences you have to try!! X

  2. This looks like autumnal perfection! The only people I know to carve pumpkins are US expats as well. But our local Sainsbuy's has a huge display of pumpkins with the marketing around it being "for Halloween" "for carving" We don't live in a expat heavy neighbourhood so where are all these pumpkins going?! A mystery! When I went to Sam's mother's house for the first time it was around Halloween so she had bought a pumpkin and stuck an American flag into it. It was brilliant. x

  3. Those pictures are pure perfection, and I love that Jon is finally here to share in so many new memories!

    Also, I love how you said it was almost novel to see hunters in their full camouflage. My immediate family is almost considered the "black sheep" in our extended family because my dad doesn't hunt. He is usually left out of conversations at the family Christmas party because he has no hunting story to tell. My students gawk at me when I admit that I don't own a single article of clothing that is camo.
    At a friend's apartment in college, one of the girls went to use his bathroom and screamed. He forgot to warn her that he was drying a squirrel pelt on the bathroom vanity. hahaha.

  4. Not sure if the seasons are the same as in California but last weekend in California duck season opened so if it is the same that is what they were out hunting! not a bad person to be friends with though as wild duck is really really good!
    I love that the place you went had such history when I was a kid and we went to get pumpkins it was always in a parking lot next to a major road!

  5. We have a bunch of farms like that up here, too, and I've been taking the kids around to visit the various farm stands and we've definitely taken a hayride. Jon's comment about the Pinterest farm cracked me up, but it's so nice that you had such a pretty place to spend such a gorgeous afternoon, and feeding animals is always a good time. Do you plan to carve them or are they going to become part of a more elaborate display?

  6. Remember when you guys were apart and you had to do things alone? And now look at you! All cute and picking pumpkins together :)

  7. His Pinterest comment is so on point! But this does look like fun!


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