Yesterday morning, I went out with my granddaughter and her friend to take pictures. It wasn’t an optimum day for shooting, rather overcast with the distinct feeling of rain on the way. But the season is short and if it isn’t actually raining, I feel I should be out there catching the season before it gets away.
The granddaughter and I wanted pictures of pumpkins, but the only pumpkins we had found so far were in the supermarket … and somehow, that wasn’t what we had in mind. Along our winding route, we came to a house that was very nicely decorated.
The place was little overly planned and neat for my taste. I’ve always favored controlled eclectic chaos, in both interior and exterior decoration. I don’t want everything to match. I just want it to live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, they had obviously put a lot of effort into prettying up for the season and they had done it with elegance and enthusiasm. I took a few pictures and wished my driveway wasn’t a mess of crushed asphalt. Chaos is fine as a fashion statement, but it’s hard on the snowblower.
The man of the house was in the driveway with his leaf blower, reminding me that should it ever stop raining, we needed to do some blowing of our own. I took a few pictures, then we chatted some more.
Shortly, his wife came out to see what was going on. Obviously relieved that her husband was chatting with a white-haired grandmotherly type and not some more threatening female person, I asked if she knew someplace nearby that might have some pumpkins because I didn’t want to buy a pumpkin at a supermarket.
She said I should definitely go to Goodwin’s farm stand and I said “Where is Goodwin’s” and she said “You just go straight down there, turn left, then follow along by the river until you come that old barn …”
“Whoa,” I said. “I’m already lost.”
She said “No, it’s easy, really,” and I sighed.
“I don’t even know where I am, so I will never find someplace I’ve never been.”
“How can you not know where you are? You’re from Uxbridge. That’s just up the road.”
“Everyone makes fun of me,” I said. It is hard being hopelessly and permanently lost. My granddaughter’s friend had just talked to her mom. Mom had asked when she’d be home. She had said she didn’t know. Her mother had asked how come she didn’t know and she explained that they were out with K’s grandmother and SHE didn’t know where she was. Unless it’s one of the standard “places I go,” I’m at least confused, if not completely lost. Put me in my living room. Put a paper bag over my head, turn me around twice, take the bag off. I won’t know where I am. Seriously, I won’t.
This total lack of a sense of direction is not the result of getting older. I was equally confused when I was young. My only saving grace was that I could read a map. When the GPS was invented, I was an early adopter. It was made for me.
We went back and forth for a while, then she told her husband to put down the blower. They jumped in their car and led us to Goodwin’s. It took about 20 minutes and we would never have found it on our own … my own, really. I don’t know either of their names and they didn’t ask mine. They simply dropped everything they were doing and took us to a place they thought we would enjoy so we wouldn’t get lost finding it.
That’s the up side of life in the valley. It’s a very big up side because strangers act like friends. People aren’t suspicious. They are shocked by petty crime because it is so rare. They assume you’re okay because they are okay. They may not turn out to be people you want to hang out with every day, but they aren’t going to mug you, either. And they will do favors for you, for no reason, just to be nice, because they can. Not bad, if you think about it. Especially for those who grew up in places like New York where the possibility of getting murdered is never outlandish.
And so we’ve come to pumpkins. Goodwin’s really had pumpkins. Two houses built of pumpkins and acres of big pumpkins, huge crates of smaller pumpkins … and finally, the most gorgeous vegetables I’ve ever seen. The granddaughter picked a perfect and enormous pumpkin and both girls felt inclined to rotting their teeth, so I bought them candy apples. I was irresistibly drawn to those yellow peppers, and the granddaughter and the friend selected a dozen ears of handsome corn on the cob. I, in a moment of wild abandon, bought some brand new Indian corn. And then, it began to rain and we headed home.
I pointed out to my granddaughter that if you are never lost, you never find anyplace unexpected.
When Garry and I were on our honeymoon in Ireland, we were lost all the time. I mean literally. We had a marvelous time. We found fairy circles, stone circles, castles, out-of-the-way inns and B&Bs … wonderful pubs where everybody sang folk songs. We didn’t see most of the tourist stuff everyone else sees … but we found all kinds of wonderful places and had fine conversations with complete strangers who turned a vacation into an adventure.
Getting lost, unless you are on a schedule and short of time … or are in a dangerous place … is one of the only ways to discover new things. To find yourself in a different and unexpected place. Being surprised in a good way is rare. Most life surprises are bad, painful, scary.
So go get lost. Pick a road that’s beautiful, then wander. Turn if you feel like it. Make random choices. Don’t worry if people laugh at you. You can laugh along with them because meeting them has made your adventure even better.
- Oregon’s largest pumpkin ever on display in Woodburn (kgw.com)
- Pumpkin Carving (ourearleylife.wordpress.com)