Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

Photo courtesy stokoefarms.com

How can we not smile to know that we live in world where we have Octobers? And not just the name of the month to toss around, but the full, hearty meaning of October – fall in essence. While I could post on and on about the imagery of fall in the Finger Lakes, I can also easily centralize a place where all of fall fun happens to collide: Stokoe Farms in Scottsville.

I sincerely admit that even at 21 years old, I’m excited to go pick a pumpkin at Stokoe (pronounced Stoke-y). My roommate this year has never gotten a pumpkin from anywhere but the grocery store parking lot, and I’m ready to pack her in my suitcase to take home so that she can experience the glory of the pumpkin hunt. Stokoe has pre-picked ones that look pretty nice, but you just don’t bond with your prize in quite the same way as when you cut the vine yourself.

Picking the perfect pumpkin in a field full of twisty vines takes some acquired skill, a little bit of fate, and a whole lot of patience. The best ones are usually half-hidden by big, floppy leaves, and hardly ever on the outside of the patch. Don’t forget to bring along a little wagon to cart your own Great Pumpkin back to the car, and if you’re the type to get chilly, probably some hand warmers, too!

Oh, and don’t forget something to actually cut the vine with… It’s no fun to wrestle a well-tangled pumpkin once you know it’s the one.

When I was younger, the pumpkin hunting was only half the fun. I am so sad that I probably won’t get to ride a grain sack down the giant slide, or tunnel through the straw-pile forts on my hands and knees. It is seriously so cool in that thing – there are a bunch of paths and hidden nooks. It’s a straw bale kingdom where you can pretend to hide from your parents and feel like a mountain climber if you scale it to the top.

I also would get some weird looks if I joined the little kids in the dried corn sandbox. I am astoundingly disappointed by the lack of corn sandboxes here in Indiana. It’s an entirely missed opportunity. I can only describe the feeling of the cool, hard kernels running through fingers as highly smooth and satisfying. However, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be finding corn in all your nooks, crannies, and pockets for days afterwards. I like to think of them as little souvenirs.

When it’s all said and done and you’ve pet the billy goats, ridden the ziplines, launched some pumpkins with a catapult, and had some hot cider, you can go home at the end of the day with rosy cheeks and tired limbs. I always used to be ready for a nap in the car.

My boyfriend will be joining us on our trip this year – I’m not sure that he’s quite prepared for the enthusiasm I’ll be bringing to the table. 16 days and counting!

Halie Solea 2013By Halie Solea

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