I don’t know when pumpkin picking commanded such mass hysteria, but it has reached epidemic proportions in the latter part of October. This past weekend, we celebrated a friend’s birthday at G&M Farms in the San Francisco East Bay, and it was a glorious mob scene of parents and children. I swear the humans outnumbered the pumpkins slumbering on a vacant field. Tired zombied parents pulling their unencumbered kids and giant pumpkins collectively in dusty, red radio flyer wagons.
There was no escaping the bags of sweet-smelling kettle corn, painted scarecrows, Indian corn, pony rides, and bales of hay designed into an elaborate maize labyrinth. I was half-expecting David Bowie’s Jared the Goblin King to bust out like the Kool-Aid man from the white-washed barn between us and the corn maize. But no — it was just the dads slinging kids on their shoulders while waiting in line for the next pony ride.
Pumpkin season is the formal acknowledgement of fall, the precursor to the holiday madness of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every fourth quarter celebratory occasion. It is a rite of parental passage that is both a timeless classic and Instagrammable sensation. If you have a young child, pumpkin picking is nearly inescapable, unless you’re traveling out of the country during the month of October.
Pulling up my Instagram feed, I am duly inundated with photos of adorable babies and tots smiling with orange pumpkins in the background. Glamorous women guilelessly reposing against a backdrop of white-washed pumpkins, gourds, and chip proof manicures.
Pumpkins are as Americano as pumpkin pie, as this luscious squash is thought to have originated in North America with references dating centuries past. I am a big proponent of the fall tradition welcoming pumpkin spice with a vengeance – pumpkin spice coffee, pancakes, cereal, cakes, and popcorn. As with all holiday traditions, I am happy to go all out as I relive the magic of childhood.
Next up – Halloween.