pumpkin patch

The Grimmest Pumpkin Patch in Los Angeles

After misunderstanding a friend’s recommendation for a preschooler-friendly local pumpkin patch, we took Charlie to the grimmest, most Carnie fall experience I’ve yet encountered.

In pursuit of of autumn magic, we drove over to the Pasadena Pumpkin Patch. When my friend Heidi said she always took her kids to their local pumpkin patch and had a great time, I just Googled which pumpkin patches were close to her and made plans. Like an idiot.

As we drove into the CVS parking lot, I questioned Heidi’s taste for the first time in our 11-year friendship. When we walked through the chain-link fence, I knew she must be all the way out of her entire mind. But Charlie was enchanted. He immediately found the pumpkin of his dreams.


I foolishly only took pictures where it looked like we were at a perfectly acceptable pumpkin patch. 

He liked that it fit in one hand, and that it had the best stem. He also found some dried corn, which he started using as a broom immediately. Neither of these were near as exciting as the prospect of the ultra-grim petting zoo. Wanna touch a real, live, mangey chicken? This is the place for you! What about a piglet with intestinal discomfort? We have two! Do you like goats? This goat does not like you, and is currently escaping through the chain-link fence to explore the freedom of the rest of the CVS parking lot. Don’t worry, Methy Joe has acquired a rake with which to shoe the goat back into place. Please, Mom, please can we pay the $7 to get right in there, in the pin with them, and touch those animals? Kiss them with our faces? Rub the hay in our eyes? I’m especially interested in the parts of the animals that ought to have fur and/or feathers, and yet have neither.

Oh, sorry honey, dad is highly allergic to some manner of evil within this petting zoo, and we’ve got to GTFO before his sinuses explode. I, too, am experiencing itching in places on my face I didn’t know I had.

When can I go on the inflatable slide, Mom? I love the part about how we have to take our shoes off and walk around in what I can only assume are used hypodermic needles and a bit of hay.

Sadly, we had to go before we could experience the full splendor. Andy was legit allergic, so we couldn’t linger, as much as we obviously wanted to. Charlie started throwing a fit upon the news that it was time to pay for our pumpkins and go. Sobbing, as is his custom, “I’m never going to be happy again!” He cried all the way home.

As it turned out, this was not the recommended pumpkin patch in question. The one my friend endorsed was her non-gimmicky, strictly pumpkin-based neighborhood patch. In fairness to me, this questionable autumn experience had a lot of close-up pictures on its website, so all red flags had been carefully cropped out of my internet research. But because I wanted to create a magical memory and didn’t feel like driving all the way the fuck to Moorpark, we now have the magical memories of the saddest petting zoo in Los Angeles, and a son who promises to be unhappy forever.

But a memory’s a memory. I’m counting this one as a win.

7 Phases of Autumn Magic

When it seemed like I wasn’t going to have children, one of the hardest things to come to terms with was missing out on Kid-Having Autumn Magic. It was something I held in very high regard. Toddlers who wore tweed on their hayrides before cheerfully collecting multicolored leaves for the cinnamon-scented centerpiece that would be in plain view in my clean home during every evening meal from October 1 to Thanksgiving. With the leaves starting to change, with Andy’s mom in town, and with Charlie beginning to appreciate activities and novelty, we made plans to make today our special outing to the pumpkin patch. Probably we could get slightly lost in a corn maze, but only enough for it to be fun, and have some cider before Charlie picked out his dream pumpkin. Let me take you through the phases of today’s Autumn Magic.

  1. Commit to a trip to the pumpkin patch.
  2. Remember that we live in a city, and, with help from the Internet, learn that the closest proper “patch” is at a farm in Bowie, Maryland.
  3. Decide instead to go to Eastern Market (the big DC farmers’ market on Capitol Hill), where there will be plenty of locally grown pumpkins, fresh from the patch, for Charlie to choose from while I drink cider. They might even have some hay strewn about. Urban equivalent of the pumpkin patch, and there for more authentic and appropriate.
  4. Fail to get everyone fed, napped, and showered in time to get to Eastern Market via Metro before I go to work for a brief event.
  5. Promise my mother-in-law that we can stop at Home Depot to pick out a pumpkin as soon as I’m home at work around 6:00. They actually have a really good variety of pumpkins, and there’s location really close to our house. I think they also have some decorative hay in the pumpkin section.
  6. Get home from work around 6:00. Think better of ever leaving the house again.
  7. Skip Home Depot; order Dominos.

This is exactly the Autumn Magic I knew myself to be missing out on when I started crying in the pie aisle at Trader Joe’s a few years ago.

Live, from us not going on a hay ride through a corn maze while sipping cider in an authentic pumpkin patch.

Live, from us not going on a hay ride through a corn maze while sipping cider in an authentic pumpkin patch.