“Do you want to pick some pumpkins?” we said, while turning toward the small boy, fast asleep. Landon Johnson was sitting upright in his car seat. His eyes were closed and he was breathing heavily.
The short drive from our house in Centerton to Pea Ridge, Arkansas, was just long enough for the SUV’s drone and cool air to lull him into a kip. Now, he was beginning to stir. His arms reached toward the ceiling and his head turned, first to the right and then to the left. Then, his eyes began to flutter open, ever so slightly, acting as our cue.
We got out of the car and stood on the solid ground of McGarrah Farms, where we looked out across a vast field filled with orange, white and pink pumpkins, and punctuated with sun flowers, strawberries, hay stacks for climbing and tractors giving hay rides and pulling a pony train. They all competed for the attention of our own little, just awakened, “Punkin.” And, we were also soon to learn that at McGarrah Farms, punkin isn’t just slang for pumpkin. It means much more than that.
I began to understand the more comprehensive meaning of punkin as soon as I heard it drawled out, through a megaphone, by a jolly man calling us to accompany him on the farm’s hay ride tour. He used the tractor and attached hay wagon as a vehicle to do more than simply show us the farm. He combined his own humor and experience to encourage the deepening of personal relationships.
“Make sure to give your punkins more face time with less screen time,” he said as we drove through the haunted woods, located just to the side of thousands of pumpkins.
“When I was a kid, I could spend the whole day in the barn using just my own imagination,” he said as he drove toward the pony train ride.
When the hay ride came to an end, I sat still. Then a small girl hesitated as she was about to walk past me.
“Why are you still sitting here?” she asked.
“Because I don’t want to miss the parade,” I said.
“You and the others walking by.”
I gave her a little parade wave, elbow, wrist, then hand.
She smiled at me, waved back, grinned broadly at her Mom and Dad, then continued to use her hands to grasp hold of her family as they paraded toward the sea of pumpkins.
The pumpkins soon swallowed us as well. We pulled our little wagon, making sure to select proper pumpkins before returning home.
Along the way we stopped at Roaring River State Park where we parked on the edge of a river to watch fly fishers and enjoy the playground before it began to rain. We also sat on a park bench to savor the moment.
“Days like this will be what he remembers, cherishes, the most,” I said to my daughter, Kilee, as we watched her son climb and slide. The emotion of the moment was too much for the clouds as they began to shed tears of joy on us.
“Do you want to take our picked punkins home?” I said to Landon. He held our hands as we dodged rain drops and walked across the parking lot to our SUV. The short drive from the park to our house in Centerton was just long enough for the SUV’s drone and cool air to lull him back to sleep.
Pumpkins were our cue for punkins to fill our hearts and fuel our memories.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.