Every year, by Halloween, I have been to a slew of pumpkin patches. It's just something we do around here.
Well, at least it's something that I do and just so happen to drag my wife and kids along with me. I can't deny it: Once September rolls in and summer disappears around the last bend in the calendar, hopping up on some farmer's clanking old hay cart for the ride out to a pumpkin patch makes me giddy to the edge of weirdo.
Luckily for me, though, I guess the rest of my family seems to dig it too. See, it has become something of a grand tradition for us. And like going to see Santa, you do not mess with 'the grand tradition.'
Pumpkin patches are sort of magical if you ask me; they aren't some same-old patch of ordinary country dirt lined with with a trillion beans or tomatoes growing everywhere your eyeball can possibly land. Oh no. Pumpkin patches are places where only the strangest, most iconic fruit this side of the apple grow.
They are where future Halloween jack-o-lanterns are born.
And this year's Thanksgiving pumpkin pies, too.
Plus, if you just so happen to be one of my kids by the name of Violet (who is 4) or Henry (2), then they are also the exclusive outdoor showrooms where the 6 or 8 smaller softball-sized pumpkins that you will carry around with you like a designer purse until almost Christmas are found.
In my mind, every little kid and every full-grown adult who gets to set foot in a patch at some point between Labor Day and Thanksgiving should be thanking their lucky stars. We made it. We made it through another year.
Stare up at that wild October or November sky and take a deep, cool drag of autumn while you can.
Then turn around and take a second or two to watch those kids of yours clobbering through the dirt and the mud, up and down all those pumpkins, smiling at them as they lay their tiny hands on as many orange behemoths as they possibly can, before they pick that special one to take home with them.
Because pumpkin-picking time comes and goes pretty fast.
Just like pretty much everything worth knowing in this lifetime.