The Uncomplicated Joy of The Pumpkin Patch

If you had asked me a year ago what I planned on doing with my life, one of the first sentences out of my mouth would have been, “Getting out of Alaska.” I had my eyes set on the big city, with dreams of living in Seattle, Los Angeles, or New York. I knew that it was little far fetched, but I also knew the The Husband and I could make it work. Somehow, love and a low wage barista job would pay the rent while we looked for work in media.

At one point, we even had our bags packed and a moving date set in stone. Destination: Seattle. My parents had moved away, his parents had moved away, our friends had started moving away, and we didn’t have a whole lot left here. In our minds, nothing held us back from just jumping in the car and going. And that was exactly what we intended to do.

Then, he proposed. And then, we got married. After that, we moved into a lovely little house in a lovely little town, and I found my urge to leave fading. Looking around at the life we’d created, I realized what we would have to sacrifice in order to live in the big city. No more late night strolls in a safe neighborhood. No more family events. No more cozy snow days.

And for what? So that I could eat pizza at 1am and see more concerts? I’m always in bed by ten, and I’m too short to see anything good at concerts.

Which brings me to the pumpkin patch.

Over the weekend, we piled into the car with our winter gear and cups of hot chocolate. We drove over the frosty roads toward farm country, where cafes and warehouses gave way to horse pastures and mountainsides. The reindeer farm rested at the end of a side road, although every road is a side road around here. As I pulled into a parking spot in the middle of a big ass hay field, it struck me how different my life is now.

When I lived in the “city” (if you could call Anchorage a city), The Husband and I spent a whole lot of time complaining that there was nothing to do. It wasn’t until we moved to a small town that our lives became full of activities. Festivals, farmers markets, family gatherings, girls nights out, volunteering…overnight, our lives became so busy that we found ourselves wishing we had less things to do.

And now I’m spending my weekends standing in the middle of nowhere, picking pumpkins, hanging with farmers, and petting reindeer. It’s as far away from New York City as I could possibly be. And yet, I love it.

And all of that can be exemplified by the pumpkin patch. A big fenced-in bundle of joy, covered in frost and filled with small kids trying to pick up bright orange pumpkins while their parents watched. It’s such a simple thing, but it sparks joy from the most nostalgic parts of the heart. When we found The One, it was as if we’d found the Holy Grail. We took it home that night and carved it into a Jack-O-Lantern that now sits on the front porch.

At one time, I couldn’t imagine a life in a small town. If I wasn’t wrapped up in the flow and the energy of millions of other people, was I successful, or happy, or meaningful? A year ago, my answer would have been no. Now, I’ve changed my tune. My free time and routine are much simpler now, and much more joyful. I can’t express how much the act of uncomplicating my life made a difference. The urge to constantly move has disappeared. I’ve become accustomed to stillness and lazy days.

I could go on and on about all the poetic ways that small town life has changed me, and I’m sure I will someday. But for now, I can leave it at this: there’s a pumpkin on my porch. I picked it. I talked to the people who grew the pumpkin. Little kids on my street have commented on this pumpkin. This pumpkin makes me happy every time I leave my house. There’s some metaphor for the circle of life in there somewhere, but I don’t feel the need to find it anymore.


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