In England, Jon tells me, people do carve pumpkins for Halloween, but I don't remember seeing any out on stoops or in windowsills in Chelsea or Islington. In fact, the only people I know in London who decorate for autumn are US expats, and making an adventure of choosing your pumpkin is distinctly American. As an English friend commented on a photo from the outing that I posted on Facebook yesterday, "I thought pumpkins came from Sainsbury's!"
So Jon was in for a treat as we drove all the way up 97 past Brookeville - the town to which James Madison fled after the British burned the White House in August 1814 - to Waterford Farm. We turned off onto a winding dirt track, passing fields of stubbled wheat stalks, and crossed a little stone bridge over a ditch to find, laid out before us, the quintessential autumnal experience. Or, as Jon commented when we saw the bright red barns, "Oh, look, they built a farm from Pinterest for all the urbanites."
Despite Jon's cynicism, we had a great morning. We fed the goats and petted the cows and agreed that it was good we'd left Charlie back at home. Jon and another childless man there with his wife had a loud conversation next to the pig pen about their favorite cuts of pork, to the dismay of nearby parents, and I was glad to see that I wasn't the only woman there with her phone out to take pictures.
When the haywagon rolled up, Jon suggested that we let the families with young children board first, but I reminded him that we were still less than an hour away from DC and so it was totally acceptable to sharpen our elbows. We hopped up and, surrounded by mothers with DSLRs and toddlers trying to eat straw and fathers hoping to see a hawk darting above our heads, trundled off towards the pumpkin patch.
I'm delighted to report that, as Jon predicted, our pumpkins chose us relatively quickly, and we were able to spend a while wandering the fields under a brilliant blue sky before boarding the wagon back to the farm.
On Jon's suggestion, we took the scenic route home through Patuxent State Park; it was amazing to see how much more colorful the foliage was there than in the city. (We passed quite a few hunters in full camouflage by their trucks, which was almost as novel for me as it was for Jon!) It was the most gorgeous day - perfect for an autumnal outing.