“ O sun and skies and clouds of June, and flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour, October’s bright blue weather…”
October. If I had to pick one month to live all year through, it would be October. October pairs the last warmth of the summer sun and cornflower blue skies with the crisp pacific wind. The leaves turn to shades of gold, orange and red in a vibrant rhythm that only nature herself could orchestrate. The frail, dried grass of summer returns to its vibrant emerald green, and we embrace our accustomed and infamous damp weather by way of morning mist and fog. October politely suggests knit sweaters and caps in the evenings, but refrains from forcing us into a full retreat under down parkas and insulated rain shells. If you are a native to the PNW, it wouldn’t be unusual for your stock of flannels, puffy vests, knit caps and boots to be more plentiful than all your other clothing put together. There is so much to love about October. The sights, the smells, and of course… the crops! Corn, apples, nuts, fall blooms, squash, gourds, and the most glorious of all, the pumpkin!
The Northwest is full of idyllic farms busting at the seams with this orange globe of sentiment. My family keeps our ventures within Snohomish and Skagit counties for our pumpkin hunting. Skagit farmland is easily some of the most beautiful in the nation and I am so grateful to live so near to it. I truly believe in the necessity of supporting our farmers, our small businesses and keeping as much of our shopping and venturing as local as possible. That is an easy thing to do in this area, where farmers markets, farm stands, co-ops, and small businesses are easily accessible. You likely already have your favorite source for all the fruits of fall, but just in case you have not yet discovered my personal favorite, let me share it with you. And if you already know it, you will hopefully enjoy the reminder of why it’s just so beloved.
There are 2 very different core reasons to visit a pumpkin patch, and that reason should fully dictate when and where you go. Most people go to patches for the entire experience of all things fall and a glorious kick-off to the holiday season. With or without kids, many patches offer hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin slinging, with all the kettle corn, caramel apples, cider and hot cocoa a heart (and appetite) can desire. With so many wonderful places, it can be difficult to pick where to go. My 3 boys and I have enjoyed picking pumpkins at Craven Farms in Snohomish for several years now. Especially good for smaller children, as there are play areas to include tractors and a pirate ship, this is a great place for them to run out that energy. Although admission into the farm is free, their Alice in Pumpkinland themed corn maze that is well worth the small fee, as it encompasses 15 acres! Their pumpkin patch is a full 20 acres, guaranteeing everyone will find their very own perfect pumpkin. Wagons are provided or you can bring you own, but definitely wear your boots! With farm animals, a gift shop and plenty of weekend activities this is a great place to enjoy a few mellow hours with family or friends.
If you want to step up the excitement, Stocker Farms may be your destination. At the Big Red Barn you will find a 10 acre pumpkin patch and plenty of options to fill your day. Their family adventure package includes the patch, the hayrides, the corn maze and a multitude of other activities. Their corn maze encompasses 7 acres and this year’s Hero theme is pretty amazing. They are offering discounts all month for the heroes among us, to include Medical Personnel, Teachers, Military/ Veterans and First Responders. If you really want to step it up and bring in the scare factor, visit their highly acclaimed haunt experience. Not for the faint of heart, it’s a great way to get into that spooktacular Halloween mood!
Then there is the other reason why many, like myself, set off to a pumpkin patch. That reason is for an absolute full immersion in the beauty and serenity of all things fall in the PNW. This is why, Gordon Skagit Farms is, and will always be, my favorite destination come October. This small family farm has been around since 1932, and has been growing perfect pumpkins since 1969. While they, too, have activities on the weekends, my personal favorite time to go is on an early weekday morning. You will likely never find yourself as the sole customer in this treasure of a place, but you are more likely to have plenty of quiet space to just breathe and take it all in. What is the “all” that I am taking in when I do this? Oh my goodness, where to begin. Every day they bring in fresh bounty from the fields. This includes every size, shape, and color pumpkin you can imagine and some that you never even dreamed existed. And almost just as plentiful as the pumpkins, is their selection of gourds and squash. The shades and shapes are the stuff of childhood stories, painting a sense of peace and perfection where nature and humans work in quiet, efficient harmony to create this beautiful bounty. Their other offerings include apples, carrots, potatoes, and many other crops fresh from the source. They also feature some goods from other small businesses and artisan workers, as well. My favorite honey can be found here at an exceptional price. They have a lovely selection of decorative crops, wreaths, flowers – both fresh and dried, and original artwork by Eddie Gordon himself. (One of these days I will bring one of those fantastic foxes home with me.) And, just as extraordinary as the crops, are the displays. The care and attention to every detail presents each and every piece as a wonder to the eye. I could easily spend hours wandering, admiring and photographing. And speaking of photography, you will not find a better backdrop for you family fall photos. I promise. So if this farm is already your favorite, keep supporting them. They are an absolute treasure in this crazy, chaotic society around us. And if you’ve never been… good heavens, go!!!
Read the book, plant the flowers, take the trip, and always have the courage to be kind.