When the leaves and weather start to turn, when the roads turn orange and red, when the sun shines a little cooler, when the breeze bites and you cozy up with a scarf and a jacket, you know autumn is here. I’ve previously written about the beauty of autumn in Portland, Oregon but have only really begun to scratch the surface of what autumn brings to the Pacific Northwest. One of those things is an annual trip to the pumpkin patch.
My kids like Bauman farms because there is so much to do. My wife and I like it because there is so much fresh food (including their world famous farm fresh apple cider). As we drive south on I-5 to the town of Gervais, just twenty minutes from Portland, we are ushered into a world of agriculture and rustic charm. As we pull into the hay-lined dirt road of Bauman farms, the kids smile as the wooden paintings of happy cartoon farmers greet them.
“I’m going to do the scary, dark hay maze first!” My son says.
“I’m going to use the bouncy house!” My daughter says.
“And I’m going to buy some fresh veggies!” My wife chimes in.
“Yuck!” My kids say in unison.
“And apple cider!” I say.
“Yum!” We all say.
As we walk through the farm, my daughter giggles when the baby goats run past her, and laughs when she sees the piglets. When her ears perk to the sounds of the rooster crows and the chickens clucking, her eyes grow wide with amazement. My son pets a llama and sticks his tongue out when the llama does the same. We run to the darkened maze where my son and I run ahead and scare my wife and daughter. Eventually, we are all filled with delightful panic as we can’t find our way for a good forty-five minutes. When we finally do, we all claim to not have been scared and we decide it’s time to eat.
We grab some hot dogs and some fresh squeezed apple cider. We eat slowly as the children describe the jack-o-lanterns they plan to make. Leaving the eating area, we enter the fresh fruit tent and are greeted by apple samples. Braeburn, Jana Gold, Golden Delicious, Sweet Tango. Succulent treats that result in us filling bags with apples to take home. I close my eyes and imagine the delicious apple pie my wife says she’s going to bake.
While I walk my daughter over to the bouncy house, my wife heads over to the country store and my son returns to the animal barn to feed some goats. Now, this is not your typical bouncy house. This is an air filled pillow stretching a hundred feet long and thirty feet across. I watch (and eventually join in) as my daughter leaps from one end to the other. Eventually, a mini daddy/daughter wrestling match takes place. My daughter wins, of course, and squeals with glee.
“I got you daddy,” she says.
“You sure did honey.”
I look and see my wife’s arms loaded with bags of tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, Swiss chard, fresh jams, pickles, apple cider… basically, we have enough fresh food to get through the winter. She smiles when she sees me. “There’s something we forgot,” she says, as my son runs over to join us.
I look at her arms, the full bags, the tiny beads of sweat on her face. She looks content and tired. What could we have forgotten? “Really,” I say. “What did we forget?”
“Pumpkins!” My wife and son say with a smile.