Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

A Corn Maze, Roasted Peanuts, and a Kansas Pumkin Patch. Does Life Get Any Better?

Gold, scarlet, and orange leaves and grasses, blue skies muted by just a hint of vernal gold, air crisped by a gentle breeze, and burnished milo fields.  What more could anyone ask for on an October weekend?  Not much, unless you want to toss in a cornfield maze, a pumpkin patch full of traditional pumpkins, Cinderella pumpkins, and some odd gray - blue pumpkins, a toasty wood fire designed for roasting marshmallows and peanuts, and hayrack rides.  
From the time our girls were toddlers until they were pre-teens, we looked forward every fall to our annual trip or two or three to Love’s pumpkin patch on the Saline River.  Weeks before it opened, the girls would gleefully ask, “Can we get our pumpkin yet?”
“Not yet; they’re still turning orange,” I answered.
It wasn’t just the chance to select the perfect pumpkin; it was also the joy of riding to the field on a flat-bed trailer pulled by two huge draft horses. Every child and grownup grinned broadly as the wagon rolled down the sandy lane.  
The year Love’s quit their pumpkin patch was a sad one for our family, one which was bemoaned every autumn thereafter.  Until recently, that is.
My eldest daughter and I look forward to the evening news..  Imagine our joy when the reporter noted several area farmers would host public pumpkin patches.  
Our joy multiplied when the day we planned our journey to the local patch dawned crisp, bright, and fully dressed in every possible shade of fall color. We called a close friend to ask her to join our expedition.  The more the merrier.
This particular patch required  us to meander about the countryside before we found it. As dust rolled behind our little car,  we feasted our eyes on picture-perfect milo fields and mosaic-like foliage.
Along the way, I discovered old-fashioned telephone poles, aged and decrepit, lining these unfamiliar rural roads.  I’d never seen the short kind that have two little insulator holders on each side of the pole.  
Burst milkweed pod distributed clouds of down that punctuated roadside ditches.  In addition, I noted a plant sporting thick, red stalks, a leaf that looked worse for a recent frost, and dangling clusters of black berries.  I thought I’d found wild grape Valhalla, but this was my  introduction to pokeweed.  
Once we reached our destination, we saw people wandering about looking for their great pumpkin.  Small children squealed with delight as they tried to lift pumpkins their little arms could not surround.  Older peopled chuckled at the small fry and at their own memories.  
This particular patch had a cornfield maze which challenged our group.  Actually, we were a bit tall or the corn was a bit short for it to be a real threat, but the maze designer added the a bonus scavenger hunt to intrigue those roving the intertwining lanes and dead ends .  Finding the little treasures and trinkets thrilled us as much as it did the youngsters dashing through the winding labyrinth.  Our biggest thrill came when we flushed a rooster pheasant from his hiding place.  I don’t know who was more frightened, me or the bird.
Following that experience, our trip through the Haunted Forest built a raging thirst, so we headed for the concession stand. It hawked standard fare: spiced cider, apple fritters, caramel corn, s’mores, and roasted peanuts.

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