It's times like now – fall – when I miss my native Ohio. By late September, the air is crisp there and shorts are packed away.
Last October, when craving a Midwestern autumn, I decided on a whim one day to take the family to a pumpkin patch. Off we went to Windy Hill Orchard in York County, S.C. We ate freshly made melt-in-your-mouth apple doughnuts and drank apple cider. We snapped photos of our baby daughter sitting in a sea of pumpkins and picked out some to take home. Of course, we were also wearing short sleeves and sunglasses, and baby Lucy was barefoot.
Around here, summer lasts forever and then gives way to winter. Newcomers often notice there's not much of a fall at all.
My family will be heading back to Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill next month. Lucy is old enough to get her own doughnut this time and to go on the hayride.
Want to head to a pumpkin patch? I've listed some here. Don't forget to pack the sunscreen.
And if you know of a pumpkin farm not listed here, please let me know and I will update on my blog.
Riverbend Farm, Midland: 18 acres of pumpkins. Open to the public on weekends in October. More info, including directions:
Chester County, S.C.
Cotton Hills Farm, Lowrys: Maze and wagon rides, too, through Nov.10. Info: www.cottonhillsfarm.com.
Lineberger's Maple Springs Farm, Dallas: Pumpkins, hayrides, picnic facilities and wildlife trail. Info: http://maplespringsfarm.home.mindspring.com.
Carrigan Farms, Mooresville: Open weekends in October for hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Nighttime hayrides also available. Info: www.carriganfarms.com.
Black's Produce, Denver: Pumpkin patch, apples and old-fashioned candies. Fall season is daily through October. No Web site. Phone: 704-489-0078. Address: 636 N.C. 16 North, Denver.
Rural Hill Farm, Huntersville: No pumpkins here, but there is a corn maze. Open Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 2. Info: www.ruralhillfarm.org.
Aw Shucks! Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch, Monroe: This is its first season in Monroe after moving from Marshville – on the eastern edge of the county, near Anson County – to be closer to Charlotte. Aside from the two attractions obvious in the name, there are farm animals, bonfires and something called flashlight nights. Info: www.awshuckscornmaze.com.
The Hunter Farm, Weddington: Pumpkins, hayrides, pony ride and bonfires. Fall season goes through Nov. 16. Info: www.thehunterfarm.org.
York County, S.C.
The Peach Tree Orchards: Features pumpkin display, painted pumpkins for sale, a maze built of straw bales and ice cream parlor. Info: www.thepeachtreeorchards.com.
Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill: In addition to pumpkins, there's a petting zoo. The Apple Harvest Festival is the third Saturday of October. Info: www.windyhillorchard.com.