Daniel and I planned to take a little trip up to Edwards Apple Orchard last week to pick out some pumpkins for Halloween. It was a little touch and go. I had hoped to take the afternoon off, but ended up working until five (they close at six). As the sun was setting somewhere behind the steel gray clouds in the west, we jumped in the truck and took off towards Poplar Grove. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We had a rare winter tornado in January. It missed Belvidere, but wiped out a lot of the buildings at the orchard. We’ve been going up there for our pumpkins for several years; it’s “tradition”. I wondered if it would be the same. Driving up Centerville Road, there were some signs of damage. One farm had three silos. The first looked fine, the second one was missing the top and the third looked like someone had bitten it off at the middle.
It was getting dark, so we decided to pass on the pumpkin patch across the road and look at the pre-picked pumpkin piles instead. Daniel roamed from stand to stand, eyeing this one and that and finally located a lopsided giant sitting on an old railroad tie. I noticed a dirty dent on the flat side that I assumed would be the face. Daniel saw it as potential.
“It’s got a scar!” he said. “It will be the perfect scary face!” I lugged the perfect pumpkin into the main barn and waited as patiently as I could while Daniel rummaged through the smaller pumpkins, looking for a “pumpkin buddy”. Every year, our Jack O’lantern has a sidekick. The siren smell of apple donuts filled my nostrils. We ended up with the perfect pumpkin and buddy. Daniel also bought two mini-pumpkin gourds with his own money. I was told we would not be carving them, but rather drawing their faces with magic marker.
Edwards Apple Orchard re-opened for business Labor Day weekend and it’s still a work in progress. The orchard itself was undamaged in the storm and the pumpkin patch was fine. The main house has been rebuilt, but they were still working on the siding. There had been a big old tree in the central area between the house and barn. While the tree was still there, the top of the crown was missing; several naked branches stuck up like tines on a fork. The barns looked okay and the playground area behind them was all set up except for the fence maze. We carried the pumpkins back to the truck, bracing against the cold wind whipping across the fields. Piles of leaves swirled around the buildings. Fall is definitely here, but I was happy to see a few signs of renewal.