The Great Pumpkin Search

The Great Pumpkin

I have a theory about the world of gambling. I think it originated in the mind of some young child observing his peers at a pumpkin patch.

A couple weeks ago Lauren and I accompanied Olivia on her class field trip to a nearby pumpkin patch. We were thrilled by the intrigue of the corn maze, cuddled with the oh so clean barn animals, and even listened to the story of how a pumpkin seed becomes a pumpkin.

But then, at long last, came the much anticipated moment, the hayride leading to the pumpkin patch. That magic land of orange, that field that holds the promise of the best, most jack-o-lantern worthy pumpkin ever seen. I could almost picture the

casino lights and music as I helped my children climb up into the hay-filled tractor trailer.

The kindergarteners all watch with wide eyes as the pumpkin patch draws ever closer. They wring their hands nervously and tap their fingers on their knees, as if signaling the dealer that they want another card. Will this be the year? The year they find the most spectacular pumpkin ever seen?

Finally, we arrive at the promised land. The back of the trailer is opened and one of at a time the children step down, looking around in amazement at the sights around them. More pumpkins than they’ve ever seen, gleaming in the fall sunlight with vines wrapping mysteriously around them.

I watch as the kids scatter, little shrieks of delight coming from everywhere. This is what childhood is all about, I think, as I observe little boys and girls happily calling their parent over to praise the perfect pumpkins they have found.

And then I watch my daughters. And slowly I begin to realize I may be in for more exercise than I bargained for. The patch is at least five acres and both my children are working their way toward the far corner of the field. It doesn’t matter, I think, this is fun for the girls and surely they will find a pumpkin that catches their eye soon. I take a final glance behind me and notice the first children already climbing back into the trailer with happy smiles and pumpkins in their arms.

We pass pumpkin after pumpkin and so far have not found anything remotely acceptable. Too round, too bumpy, too orange (?). But girls, I say, we didn’t bring any water with us for such a long walk. It’s like they can’t walk away from the table, you see. The next pumpkin will be better. Just one more, they’re thinking. You wait and see. I will beat the house and find the most glorious pumpkin ever grown.

Little beads of sweat seem to be forming on their foreheads. I suggest this one and that one, yet none of them seem to be good enough for my little gamblers. Just a little further, they say. They look really good over there. On we trudge through the patch.

Just as I begin to think I may need my cell phone to call for a ride back to the trailer, at long last, the moment arrives. The pumpkin of all pumpkins is found. But Olivia, I say, remember the one rule the pumpkin farmer told you? Do not choose a pumpkin you can’t carry. Look how far away we are from the trailer! That pumpkin seems too heavy for you.

But as I always do, I give in to her insistence that she can carry her pumpkin and we begin the long hike back. Exactly seven steps later, I find myself lugging her 15-lb. pumpkin for the remaining two acres back to our ride.

So you see, pumpkin patches could have a direct correlation to future gamblers. They start out as kids determined to hit the jackpot of the pumpkin world. They’ll push lady luck and pass up great pumpkins b/c they’re clinging to the hope of what the next one will look like. They can’t resist the allure, the temptation, of what might be just a few more steps away. And before you know it, they are visiting the black jack table.

So come on by and see our glorious pumpkins. We’ll have some spiced tea and roasted pumpkin seeds. Then the girls can teach you how to play poker.


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