When the people in the car next to me at the gas station asked me if I knew how to get to Smith Farm I said, "Yes. You go out the driveway and turn . . .," I pause and tap my right thigh, " . . . right."
I squint my eyes as I try to think beyond the right turn out of the gas station.
I stare at them blankly. They look expectant. "You know what? Follow me," I say. "I can get you there, but I can't explain how." The woman in the back seat nods understandingly.
I had my camera and was planning to take some fall photos. Smith Farm would be perfect.
Once there, I found myself in a throng of parents and grandparents lugging pumpkins and toddlers.
Unencumbered, I'm alone in the crowd, not part of the fall frenzy. I wander, mostly unobserved, like the hen that's scratching amidst the fading perennials for sale.
I used to bring my kids here. We'd spend an afternoon picking out perfect pumpkins to take home and carve. Things look different now that I'm not absorbed in my kids' delight.
This pumpkin fest is a business. And not even a very friendly one despite the samples of cider, and hayride to the pumpkin fields.
There are signs everywhere-- grouchy ones with sloppy handwriting and spelling mistakes. Words are underlined and exclamation points abound.
Don't. Don't! Don't!!!
I understand the owners are trying to make a living, capitalizing on the season before they shutter for the winter. But still.
"Don't feed the horses ANY thing, not even an apple or you will be fined $100.00!! (I checked the decimal point. They do mean one hundred.)
Don't walk to the pumpkin field. You MUST take the hayride. ($3.50 per person) No walking beyond this point!!
Do NOT TOUCH, clap or wave to activate the displays. Most items are for sale. Ask a farm employee if interested. Again, do not touch. Strictly enforced!!
And apparently all the signage still didn't do the trick. Another sign said: There are no excepted (sic) excuses for not reading all the signs and rules.
I got some great pictures, bought a jar of honey, and marveled that it didn't seem so contrived when the kids were young.
"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life." P.D. James~