The Petaluma Pumpkin Patch

At the start of October, Ty and I brought in the season with “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” a 1966 classic that fills my soul with joy. Linus: “Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

I feel that way about pumpkins. In California, we were driving down the highway and I spotted an orange-dotted field and yelped. Tyson pulled right over.

The Petaluma Pumpkin Patch is sincere enough for me, each squash grown locally by a farmer named Jim, whom we saw pulling up to the farm with a truckload of orange. I squealed like the deprived Phoenician that I am.

Look at those stems. You don’t see stems like that on the pumpkins at the grocery store, or those glorious pumpkin hues — although Trader Joe’s does get some.


I loved wandering the rows, marveling that a pumpkin begins as a blossom.

This patch was even rimmed with nodding sunflowers, dripping pollen all over their leaves.

“If we lived here, you’d be here every day,” Tyson said.

I know, I said.

“If we had kids,” he said, “we would bring them here, to this patch, and they could choose.”

“Yes,” I said, exactly.

I’ve tried to explain why I feel this way about pumpkins. My birthday is at the end of October — the 29th — and as a little girl, when I saw pumpkins in stores, I knew good things were about to happen: my mom’s pretty presents, a party, a visit from Granna, and then Halloween, Thanksgiving pies with my Aunt Marianne, and on into Christmas.

Pumpkins bring all of that to me.

Petaluma is in Sonoma County, California, just north of San Francisco. Arizona friends: there are seven places around our state where you can find a pumpkin patch with sincerity and actual pumpkins growing in fields. That list is here.

To my other readers, please tell me where you’ve found your own Great Pumpkins. I like to know these places exist somewhere out there, and I can visit come fall. (P.S. Seriously searching for a great patch near NYC, so I can go visit next weekend.)

I’ve heard you can grow pumpkins in Phoenix. Do you know such a soul? Can I come over?