Back in September, we attempted to go apple picking, like we do every year. But the parking lot was so crowded with people, we pulled right back out. We drove to another apple picking place but it was the same story. I’ve heard that some places have ticketed arrivals to make the fall festivities more COVID-friendly, but not in our area. So, we gave up and went to Fruit King, a roadside market and got a bag of apples there.
Not quite as eventful but I guess it got the job done. They even had apple cider doughnuts.
Based on this experience, I wasn’t even going to attempt a trip to the pumpkin patch this year. But then my mom called to see if we could do an outdoor activity together over the weekend. Since the kids are in school, she no longer wants to go inside our house, which is understandable. “What about a pumpkin farm?” She asked.
I didn’t want to go to the places we usually go, because those are the same places that do the apple picking and were ultra crowded. So, we looked up pumpkin patches in Eastern Long Island and chose one we had never heard of before. We settled on Stakey’s in Aquebogue. When we drove up, at around 11am, it was practically empty. Woohoo! Both my mom and I were thrilled that we were able to have a fun day without crowds.
Even though we were there to pick some pumpkins, Mazzy headed straight over to the corn maze. I’m not sure if you remember this, but I am notoriously bad at them. Last time we did a corn maze, we got legit lost and I was panicking internally while trying to keep it together for the kids. I think it took us almost three hours to get out. We ran out of water, my phone almost died and it was getting dark out!
This year, thankfully, we made it out of the corn maze without calling for emergency personnel, who I imagine have more pressing things to do in a pandemic than find my family wandering through a field. If I’m being honest, we made it out mostly because of Mazzy. I just followed her around like a lost puppy.
The other thing I loved about the Stakey’s maze (besides that we survived it), was it relied on your knowledge of pumpkin trivia to lead you through it. At each checkpoint, there was a pumpkin related question and your answer determined which direction you went. We learned, among other things, that pumpkins are a fruit, they come in colors other than orange and they are made up largely of water. Who doesn’t need a few pumpkin facts to pull out at a party? (Remember when we were allowed to have parties??)
I also learned that in addition to being able to lead the way, Mazzy and Harlow know much more about pumpkins than I do. When the question was, “What color are pumpkins while they are growing?” I was deliberating the answer and Harlow gave me a death stare. “Really, Mommy? What color is a strawberry when it’s growing? Green. What color is a tomato when it’s growing? Green. Same as a pumpkin.” She was right, of course.
As was Mazzy with every turn. She never led us astray. I kept thinking we were going in circles, but then Mazzy would confidently lead us up to the next checkpoint and next question, every time.
One interesting moment was when I wanted to take a photo of Mazzy and Harlow in the middle of the cornfield. They posed willingly for the pic but I had to convince them to remove their masks. “There is literally no one in this maze but us!” They’ve gotten so used to wearing them in public that taking them off, even when we’re alone, feels like it is against the rules.
I made them take a photo with me too.
It was fun having the girls really run the show with the maze. Mazzy especially is becoming so confident and competent. In previous years, she had the confidence piece but was missing the competent piece! And I think the reason we always got lost was because I let her lead while I tried to document the experience, and take care of the kids (with water, snacks, sunscreen and the like), which really left no brain space for focusing on how to get out of there. This time, the girls moved fast and we were all a really great team. Except, I had to tell them to wait so Grammy could catch up!
We found the end of the maze without incident, much to my relief. Then I asked the girls to take a photo with “The End” sign. They gave me this:
I swear they were happier at the time. After the maze, we celebrated with corn on the cob, popcorn and Slurpees. As one does.
Then, we moved on to the main event, which was pick out our pumpkins. Harlow quickly realized that she is in fact a tiny person, and easily overpowered by even a medium sized pumpkin.
She was also too small to successfully wield the wheelbarrow.
Mazzy has apparently hit the age where not only can she lead the family through corn, but can also carry large autumnal vegetables. Did I say vegetables? I meant FRUITS! Large autumnal FRUITS. These are skills every pre-teen should learn.
For whatever reason, the kids insisted on going as far out into the patch as possible. You know, the part of the patch where all the good pumpkins have been removed to bring to the front of the patch, where people can see them and buy them. Because no one ventures out that far.
EXCEPT MY FAMILY.
I call this part— the Island of the Misfit Pumpkins. The misfits range from rotten pumpkins to stomped on pumpkins to completely deflated pumpkins. This one could have been mistaken for an orange plastic bag:
Mazzy had her eye on a broken gourd. I had to let her down gently. “Ummm…perhaps it would be better to select a gourd that was not rotting out of one side???”
Eventually we made our way back to all of the normal pumpkins. We ended up with quite a bounty!
And of course I made the kids pose with me for an annual pumpkin patch photo. No masks.
On the way out, Harlow smelled apple cider doughnuts and she was right. She has sixth sense for doughnuts. She had to take her mask down for that too.
It was the perfect ending to a perfectly fall day, with or without masks.
Oh, and in case you were wondering— No, Mike wasn’t waiting in the car. I didn’t even bring him this year. It’s 2020. We have more than enough family time all together.