STEM, SHAPE, OR SIZE? When a group of pumpkin buyers saunters into a patch, the conversation naturally turns to the type of squash the group in question would like to depart with, if only one pumpkin shall be purchased. But picking a pumpkin isn't simply a matter of strolling up and pointing; rather, there are some gourd fans that land firmly in the shape size, as in the pumpkin needs to be perfectly spherical or tall and elongated. Others want a ginormous canvas to work with, when carving time comes, and others like wee little pumpkins that are made for a table's centerpiece. And a small but vocal contingent believes that the stem holds sway, especially if it is curly and rather fairy-tale-ish, like something from the top of Cinderella's carriage (before it goes all glass, of course). This debate grows come September, when some of the best-known of Southern California's pumpkin patches begin to open. But the debate takes on a different turn in Orange, at Irvine Regional Park, for the question that's asked isn't whether the pumpkin purchased with be round or large but whether you should ride the train first, prior to picking out your pumpkin.
OR... visit the sweet, kid-okay haunted house or do the hay maze or take on the pumpkin ring toss or engage in any of the activities this seasonal sweetness is known for. This is truly pumpkin patch-plus, and the train rides go a long way towards distinguishing this tree-shady spot. Want to both buy a pumpkin or two and have an autumn outing that has a rustic feel that's nicely oriented to families with little kids? The Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch is now open for 2015. And, yep, bigger kids are welcome, too, but the face painting and the ring toss and the wee train are just right for the toddler set. So no arguing over what kind of pumpkin you're all going to get, okay? Really, the perfect pumpkin needs to call to you, from across the patch, and you know it when you see it, even if it doesn't fit all of the expectations you walked in with (much like life itself, really, in the best sense).