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December 09, 2016
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The hunt for red October

I found the great pumpkin right here in my own backyard—this one is on Main Street in Jeffersonville, NY.
TRR photo by Jonathan Fox

It did not escape my attention that the rest of the state had also suffered at the hands of Mother Nature, while driving through the rolling hills. A lack of roadside stands, usually overloaded with produce (and pumpkins!) was discernible, although possibly not to the city slickers that scoured the farms, camera-phones working overtime, as they searched for the elusive cell tower signal.

Keeping an eye on the mighty Susquehanna, I spied it off in the distance. My precious Iron Kettle had (thoughtfully) mounted signs along the way, advising that the pumpkin farm was still there, waiting for me with open arms. Ok, I’ll admit I became a tiny bit verklempt as I pulled off the road, steadying myself for a blast from the past—wondering if time had exaggerated what I recalled as a magical, fantastical romp through a storybook adventure, narrated through the eyes of a pumpkin. As kids, we would marvel at the detail of never-ending dioramas of nursery rhymes, fairy tales and fables that were brought to life every year via the painstaking efforts of the farm hands. Cinderella, Jack and the beanstalk, the three little pigs and of course, the Wizard of Oz still resonated after decades, and I steeled myself to not be let down.

Mobs of children scampering through the now incredibly extensive display enveloped me in the fantasy and again, I wiped away a tear. It was all there, bigger and better than anything I could have hoped for, weaving its spell over a new generation. I ran into some childhood friends who had made the trek with their grandchildren (OMG!) to share their own memories and scour the patch for the elusive pumpkin that awaits us all.

The stories have changed (although Goldilocks, Alice in Wonderland and the Peanuts gang were still there). I found Harry Potter and the Toy Story characters mixed in with (at last!) Dorothy and the Tin Man, who suggested that I go home, whispering in my ear that “if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I need never look further than my own back yard—for if it isn’t there, I never really lost it.”

With no shortage of perfect pumpkins right here in Sullivan County, I’m headed out, knowing that I’ll find just what I’m looking for—right in my own back yard.