We spent the afternoon and evening of the Friday before Halloween at The Farmstead, which is a local pumpkin patch and fall festivities destination. You name it, they have it, from inflatable bouncy “pillows” to pony rides to ziplines to a candy cannon. They even put on a fireworks show Friday evening, which was actually rather good.
We even got rained on a bit while we were there. Of course, it was the one time that I thought, “Eh, the weather is nice. It’s sunny. We don’t need to bring coats.” Cue the drive home to retrieve coats and then all the way back to the Farmstead, all in Friday rush-hour traffic. *sighs heavily*
The hay ride took us out to the “pumpkin patch.” I use that term loosely, because really it was more of a big field where pumpkins once grew. By the time we were there, all the nice pumpkins had already been picked and conveniently located near the registers for easy perusal and purchase. What was left in the field was a few dozen rotting, smashed carcasses of former pumpkins that didn’t make the cut. Did that deter my children though? Of course not. Could they be persuaded from these putrid monstrosities, in favor of the near-perfect pumpkins already picked? Not a chance. So we plodded through the field, in the rain, to the farthest corner of the patch. Once there, Zoey found her perfect pumpkin.
It was large enough to carve, but entirely green. And smooth. With an oddly thin stem. “Are you sure that’s a pumpkin, Zoey?” I asked. “It looks a lot like a watermelon.” She was adamant that, not only was it a pumpkin, it was her pumpkin and the only one she wanted. So we waited for the hay ride to return and take us and our pumpkins back out of the field. We enjoyed the rest of our evening and didn’t think about the pumpkins anymore until Sunday, when it was time to carve them.
When it came time to carve the pumpkins, I told Zoey that this year she was going to have to actually do the work herself. Namely, the scooping out of the pumpkin guts. She has always struggled with that particular sensory challenge (she can’t stand getting her hands messy), and I felt that this year she was old enough to try to push that comfort zone a bit. Alden and Ellie’s pumpkins were easy to remove the tops from and get them started with the removing of seeds and guts.Zoey’s odd green pumpkin, however, was tremendously hard to cut into. I quickly gave up on the cheap pumpkin carving tools and retrieved our chef’s knife. Even that, however, I quickly handed over to Zach because it was taking an inordinate amount of muscle to try to push the knife through the rind. Eventually, Zach got the top off and handed the pumpkin to Zoey to begin scooping. Right away, she was struggling with the sensory impact of it.The “guts” inside her pumpkin did seem to be particularly mushy. Eleanor, darling that she is, offered to switch and let Zoey scoop out her pumpkin while she dove into Zoey’s mushy job for her. Ellie practically reveled in sinking her hands into the goop. It was when I jumped in to help scrape out the insides and loosen the gunk that the revelation finally hit. The smooth, green outside with an inordinately hard rind. The mushy, white inside. The thin stem. The oddly shaped seeds. And, finally, the smell. “Zoey!” I exclaimed. “This isn’t a pumpkin, it’s a melon!” Yes, somehow Zoey had found a melon growing in a pumpkin patch and we were carving it. Like a family of idiots.We all had a good laugh, then decided it wasn’t worth the effort of hacking our way through the tough rind to try and fully carve the melon (nevermind that the gross job of gutting it was already complete. And it really was gross – even my sensory issues were pushed to their limits trying to scoop it out). I handed Zoey a box of oil pastels and she was content to draw her jack-o-lantern on the outside of the melon. I returned to helping Alden carve his pumpkin to look like a kitty and Zach helped Ellie carve a face she designed herself. In the end, I think they came out pretty good.And never shall we forget the year of the Halloween Melon.