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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Pumpkins And Porta Potties

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Autumn agritourism has blossomed in the last couple of decades, and, having discovered the pumpkin patch phenomenon, I gladly traipse my family to one of the several on the high plains every fall.

Autumn agritourism has blossomed in the last couple of decades, and, having discovered the pumpkin patch phenomenon, I gladly traipse my family to one of the several on the high plains every fall.

In previous years, I made a point to dress the kids in coordinated outfits when we went on our fall forage. Dashiell would be decked out in overalls with an orange flannel shirt, and Millie would be wearing a denim dress with pumpkins on the front. One year, Clementine even wore an orange tutu.

I used to take photos of the kids sitting on hay bales and pulling wagonloads of gourds and I’d slap those pictures up on social media to show the world the perfect life we pretend to live.

This year, Millie wore sweats and Dashiell managed to throw on a pair of stained blue shorts. I was still able to jam seven-year-old Clementine in an orange shirt with bats on it, but I realized that I had seen the last of matched outfits and toddler tutus.

We pulled into the crowded parking lot, and even though I had asked Clementine to use the restroom before we left home, she immediately announced that she had to go. I had only tried to take Clem to a porta potty one other time in her short life, and that experience had almost prematurely ended mine. But alas, there was nothing for it, and I took her hand and headed to the blue stall. I can’t believe people line up to use one of these things, but they do, and there we were.

We lined up with eight other parents holding hands with children. I think the reason that the kids, ranging in age from three to sixteen, were allowing parents to hold hands with them says a lot. Families do tend to draw together for comfort in the face of trauma.

Holding a seven-year-old child in a suspended sitting position because she refuses to touch the seat in a 24-inch by 24-inch space is a feat that should probably be recognized as an Olympic sport -- especially when said child won’t use her hands for support because she needs them to hold her nose. The commotion was liable to knock the whole stinking porta-potty on its side.

Once we made it through that trial, the corn maze would seem mild, I thought. We headed to the entrance. My voice filled with manufactured drama, I narrated our first couple twists and turns through the maze. My narration must have been too spooky for the teenagers, because they were out of there within two seconds. “Be careful!” I called after them.

“Mom! It’s a corn maze for little kids!” my son yelled over his shoulder as he ran ahead.

After we emerged from the maze, we looked at the animals in the petting zoo. Donkeys, lambs, calves, and plenty of fowl wandered the farmyard. The rather large turkey seemed blissfully unaware of his impending November fate as he splayed his feathers proudly. I learned something I hadn’t fully comprehended prior to my up-close-and-personal experience with a tom turkey: big birds make big poop.

After cleaning our shoes the best we could, we played a few games. This particular pumpkin patch offered giant Jenga, pumpkin checkers, and cornhole, among others. After a brief scuffle over who got the orange pumpkins and who got the white pumpkins in tic-tac-to, (hey, Joel got the orange ones last year – I deserved them this year), it was on to the grand finale: the choosing of the jack-o-lantern pumpkins.

It’s a sure bet that Dashiell will go for the biggest. Since pumpkin patches typically charge by the pound, we’ll have to finance his colossal gourd. On the opposite end of the pumpkin spectrum, we have Clem’s choice, which will be a “widdle bitty cute widdle tiny baby.”

Come time to carve, this will be a challenge even using a pediatric scalpel. Millie will pick an unusual pumpkin, like one of those with all the warts or one that is greenish-black. We load the $87 worth of fruit that will rot on our porch, and off we go, covered in turkey poop and grassy sandburs, but nevertheless, happy to be alive on the high plains.